Jo‘s younger daughter, Sophie, was over yesterday, and persuaded us all that “High School Musical” was the best movie ever, and we should rent it instead of watching Godzilla or old Star Trek Animated Series episodes. What do you know – she was right. It was very much like The 80s Ending parody movie, but set in the 90s: the jock basketball star meets a really really blindingly smart honor student and they both have to bust out of their stereotypes to find true love and star in the school musical! Awesome. I knew I was loving it when the first big dance number was *a gym full of hot teenage guy basketball players* who danced while looking kind of like they were playing basketball, dodging & faking and then synchronicity and Busby Berkeley overheads, and … the jazz hands!
When they all three watched the movie again in “singalong mode” I sneaked quietly off and shut the door to my office.
Our other adventure was a foray into genderbending. Sophie complained suddenly, with proud melodrama, that her mean, mean mom “forces me to dress like a girl, and I hate girls and everything girly.” Since just the other day I heard (and observed) the story of how she wouldn’t wear anything in the house except for a stretchy purple miniskirt that was in the dirty laundry pile, and since I’ve watched her exult in sparkly pinkitude and plastic high heels with bits of fluff on the toes for the last 5 years, Sophie’s further vivid descriptions of torture at the hands of her mean-ass girlifying mom didn’t cut any ice with me. It was a good story though. Just like when she went around school telling everyone that she had a baby sister who died… “And then sometimes she makes me wear a *dress*, and she puts my hair like this so I can’t even see and it’s over my eyes! And I think girls are disgusting.”
So what to do? I said a few obvious things about girls not being disgusting, but then let her know that when I was 7 I wore wrangler jeans with patches on the knees, played in the dirt, climbed trees every day, and refused to brush my hair. My best friend was a boy. She pointed out that I still “dress like a boy all the time” but I denied this and swore to my love of the pink and sparkly — depending on mood. “What you can do is, get a necklace that says “BOYISH” on one side, and when you’re feeling more boyish wear it that way, and then flip it over and on the other side it would say “GIRLY” when you want to wear sparkly miniskirts, which are super fun sometimes”. Sophie stared up at me with sudden adoration. “YEAH. I bet my mom would make me a necklace like that.”
Then I gave her butch lessons. Hair in ponytail, tucked back under baseball cap put on sideways. “Sporty” shirt that’s too big. Jeans would help. It was the most awesome thing to see her posing in front of the mirror making muscles and adjusting her baseball hat angle for the next hour, while babbling sporadically of how she would score goals in soccer in her next game.