I admit it. I have a cougar crush on Troy Bolton. Yes, on the romantic athlete-slash-theater geek character in the three High School Musical movies (a cougar, for those of you who don’t know, is a woman of a certain age who goes for much younger men. I’m not really a cougar, I just have a cougar-ish crush. By the way, you shouldn’t Google “cougar” at work).
It’s kind of gross, isn’t it? I’m becoming a dirty old lass. But let’s get this straight, it’s not the actor, Zac Efron, I fantasize about, it’s the too-good-to-be-true character he plays. Who wouldn’t want a high school boyfriend like Troy Bolton? He’s gorgeous, he’s buff and he’s sweet as pie. Plus the kid can dance.
And when I say “fantasize about,” I mean “think about in a wholesome swoony high-school-girl” kind of way. Yes, I may be a cougar to his Wildcat, but I’m keeping it clean here. Though, throughout the movies, I did occasionally want to push that movie (and real life) girlfriend of Troy’s to the curb as she delivered another emotionally-deficit line. She can sing and dance too, but she doesn’t have her partner’s big-screen charisma.
In truth, I wasn’t particularly enamored of Troy when I saw the first High School Musical on DVD with my girl. He’s too young and green. And skinny-gawky in that way only young men are just before they grow into their bodies. I didn’t care much for him in the second movie either, which I’ve only seen glimpses of as the girl devours the DVD in the next room.
However, I saw High School Musical III in the movie theater (though on the cheap at Asheville Pizza and Brewing), and dude, Troy is a major heartthrob. In a super squeaky-clean way, which is part of his appeal. I may claim to like bad boys, but in truth, I’ve always gone for the romantic nerds. Sadly, few of them were blessed with Troy Bolton’s bod (which, I’m happy to report, he’s grown into). Or his dance moves. But movies are rarely reflective of reality, right?
In the third film, Troy Bolton faces his dilemmas with flair. Basketball or theater? The girl or the game? Troy battles his desires, singing and dancing his way through, and comes out wiser, and, believe or not, even cuter. I’m not saying this character has much depth, but he’s the only character in the movies with even puddle-deep personality.
I think my 10-year-old girl is similarly enamored of Troy, though she won’t admit to it and was a little embarrassed when I let her read this column.
Also, in the final movie, the star couple, Troy and Gabriella, finally kiss (their senior year), which made my girl squirm. Even she understands that, after three years of dating, this probably wasn’t Troy and Gabriella’s first kiss—just as regular high school kids aren’t beautifully pimple-free and full of song.
My generation’s high school musical was Grease, released in 1978. Strangely enough, that movie seems more reflective of actual high school—including condom breakage, sex in the back of a souped-up car, concerns about pregnancy and the sad truth that immature boys think they want bad girls.
In fact, I was a bit shocked when I saw the 20th anniversary reissue of Grease on DVD. I’d forgotten about all the sex and swearing, though I can still sing every word to every song. It’s kind of strange to realize that high school was edgier, at least on screen, in 1978 than in 2009.
But for now my girl and I share a wholesome crush, probably for the first and last time. She’ll probably never understand my slavering affection for Viggo Mortensen, and the other teeny-bop stars she likes are too immature and skinny for my taste (have you seen The Jonas Brothers? They have this gawky, too-much-eyebrow-for-their-faces thing going that makes me want to mother them—with some tweezers).
So we had a mother-daughter bonding moment as we rode the wave that is Troy Bolton. We’d left the guys behind (though the boy loves movies, he put his foot down about High School Musical. He said, “Gross. No way.”). As I looked around Asheville Pizza, I noticed lots of other mother-daughter teams whose eyes were tear-smudged and starry as well.
Though I’m glad the High School Musical movies are done (please don’t say they’re over, then come back and change your mind, big movie studio honchos), I’m surprisingly glad they exist in all their syrupy sweetness and over-romanticized situations. And I’m happy that abnormally perfect Troy Bolton’s there, to light up this cynical middle-aged mom’s screen.
Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.