Thursday night, Anne and I went to go see the Maplewood High School production of “Steel Magnolias”. This play is about the bonds between a group of Louisiana women, and is set in a hair salon. It was written by Robert Harling, and the story was based on his sister’s death. The title suggests female characters that are as delicate as magnolia flowers, yet as tough as steel. The play was nice. I had never seen this story before. It always seemed a little too girly. There were a few opening night jitters, but the cast and crew pulled it off fine. I must admit that I fell victim, to an attack of “eye allergies” towards its end. You girls know what I mean, so please pass the tissues.
In the movie “Grease” Principal McGee of Rydell High, began each school day’s morning announcements, with the ringing of chimes, “bing, bong, bing”. She then went on to give her daily announcements with unintended humor. That was theater, but sometimes real life is also funny. Maplewood’s morning announcements, has the principal closes with the exhortation, “Hats off, pants up, love yourself.” The first two phrases pertain to the school dress code. No hats are to be worn, and the sagging of pants is not permitted. The third phrase is encouraging self-respect, and not self-love. If you can remember back to high school, no exhorting was ever required for that act. If this doesn’t keep RegenAxe banned at Maplewood, I don’t know what will.
I think that I know the real reason why high school culture is so pervasive throughout American culture. “American Graffiti” is at the summit in the film genre, but there is a mountain of other works available as supporting cast. It is because high school combines both the banal and the sublime. This dichotomy drives straight to the heart of our culture, Jersey Shore versus Carnegie Hall. Each has its place in high school, they seem to coexist under the same roof.
Pictured with this post are crocuses, heralds of Spring. Also pictured are magnolia buds. Both species are early Spring bloomers. Blooming so early in the season requires a certain hardiness, a certain amount of steel. A few weeks from now, any good wind will litter the ground with magnolia petals, but here in Saint Louis, the month of March, will be the belle ball for all magnolias, both for the delicate and steel varieties.