Every week, as I turn on the latest episode of The Hard Times of RJ Berger, I am reminded of how formulaic and unrealistic society’s portrayal of high school life really is. My school never had quite the same divisions when it came to cliques (they did exist, but there were a lot of gray areas and it was possible to be a part of more than one), and I can’t think of a particular It Girl who “ruled the school” a la Regina George of Mean Girls. In other words, while many of pop culture’s portrayals of high school have some grain of truth, few really capture the essence of my high school experience (or that of anyone else I know).
Having said that, although I enjoyed high school to an extent, I wouldn’t mind borrowing some elements from the movies and television shows that seem to capture it all. And so this Friday, I bring you five fictional high school events I wish I could relive, had my life been a movie, TV show, or book.
The Friday Five: High School Experiences I Wish I Had
1. Attending a school where it’s okay to break into song no matter what.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a jock or a nerd, because on Glee, everyone gets their chance to shine. In a school with boundless musical talent, you can sing about anything (really!) — whether it’s the student who has a crush on her teacher, the baby you’re giving up for adoption, or the boy you liked that you thought had feelings for your friend but was actually gay. While my abilities in song and dance are extremely limited, I would have loved being a part of the Cheerios cheerleading squad with Sue Sylvester as my coach. Yes, she can be sadistic, but as a former cheerleader myself, I know it would have been amazing to perform with a team of such talent (and with pyrotechnics included… gasp!). I could do without the whole “slushie in the face” routine though. : )
2. An 80’s/90’s movie prom night.
Much to my friends’ dismay, I hate to dance. For all of my high school dances, I always felt like I wasted a perfectly good dress on a night of watching sweaty people practically have sex on the dance floor — for me, the night might as well have taken a break after my pictures were taken and then continued a few hours later at the after party. However, had my homecomings and prom resembled more of an 80’s or 90’s event (such as Pretty in Pink or She’s All That), I probably would have enjoyed them a lot more. A fun, choreographed dance to Fatboy Slim’s The Rockafeller Skank or a slow dance to The Spandau Ballet’s song True would have made the night that much better… instead of listening some hip-hop artist I couldn’t even understand.
3. Having full access to my friend’s basement hangout.
Let me just preface this by saying that basements are a rare commodity in Florida… and basically impossible to have if you live as far south as I did. Therefore, finding yourself in a basement is a very cool thing. Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t be doing quite the same things that the characters from That 70’s Show did, but if I had an Eric Forman in my life whose basement was always up for grabs, there’s no telling what I would do. It doesn’t matter if Eric is out of the house or even on the same continent; his friends still have a place to call home — no knocking or calling ahead of time required! The basement is their safe haven for dealing with the pressures of life and growing up. While my friends and I did have a few places we frequented, there was never one that meant all that much to me. Many of the locations we went to were easily replaceable, and none of them ever felt to me like a home away from home.
4. Taking bets and then falling in love because of them.
Growing up in the 90’s, I was surrounded by images of boys who accepted money to date dorky and socially awkward but still obviously pretty girls, but ultimately ended up dropping the bet/deal and falling in love with them. Take 10 Things I Hate About You as a prime example. Patrick Verona (played by a young Heath Ledger, who really stole the show – rest in peace) is paid by Joey Donner (the narcissistic popular guy… yay stereotypes!) to date Kat Stratford so that Joey can have a chance with Kat’s sister and eventually sleep with her. Patrick gets Kat all the way to the prom but falls in love with her along the way, to the point where he even serenades her with Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You and pays the band to perform at her soccer practice. Of course these things never happen in real life, but 90’s movies make the argument that if you start to date someone for the wrong reasons (such as a bet or the fact that you’re being paid) then you’re destined to fall for them. Case closed.
5. Learning magic and defeating the most evil wizard of all time.
I still maintain that my Hogwarts letter got lost in the mail almost nine years ago… and while the seven years spent in wizarding school overlap middle and high school, I would be willing to erase my middle school years in favor of becoming the next Hermione Granger, minus all the hormones (besides, middle school really sucked). Although I doubt I’m brave enough for Gryffindor, I think I’d find a happy place for myself in Ravenclaw, hopefully not among know-it-alls but just among people who like to question and learn new things. I’m convinced that I would love my Charms and Transfiguration classes, hate Potions due to my aversion to chemistry, and struggle a little with Defense Against the Dark Arts because I’m a bit of a passive person but nevertheless would learn a lot from the class and love being there. I might not have been on the frontlines fighting against Voldemort, but I would still find my place in the cause and work toward the equality of all magical creatures!
So, what high school experiences do you wish you had?!