A couple of weeks ago, my wife informed me that the third installment of the latest Disney cash cow had arrived: High School Musical 3. You can imagine my elation. So in preparation for this glorious event, I scheduled to take the day off of work. This tactic is to impose my own version of crowd control by attending the feature during hours when the most likely clientele are absorbed in the menial tasks of high school. Ironic, huh?
First my credentials. You may be wondering if a middle-aged dude whose favorite pastime is watching two men kick the crap out of each other in a steel cage should be critiquing a musical. I have compiled what I believe to be an impressive resume showcasing my ability to address this issue. First, I have seen High School Musical 1 & 2 437 times each; been to the off-broadway version; listened to my girls belt out "Bop To The Top" 17 times in a row via the Wii version. By the way, it is not a good idea to engage in this before bed. I have played the DVD High School Musical Trivial Pursuit game; been involved in a stampede to secure a decent position to witness the California Daze live float version in Anaheim; spent $2.5 million on clothing, purses, backpacks, CD's, dolls, playing cards, pencils, notebooks, board games, table cloths, plates, cups, posters, jewelry, candy, and, my favorite, High School Musical chapstick.
So after much hype and news that the flick has broken all imaginable box office records, the magical day has finally arrived. Like an athlete on game day, my girls prepare for the event with an hour or so on the Wii system, followed by twice through the soundtrack and a warm-up round on the Nintendo DS version. From past experience, my wife and I have determined it necessary to apply the Three Hours Per Child Preparedness Rule. This rule states that no less than three hours of preparing per child is required in order to arrive anywhere on time. There is the need for snacks, drinks, diapers, hair products, extra clothing, more diapers, and various other crucial items that, if forgotten, will indeed provide for a less-than-perfect outing. So after making our list and checking it twice...
Wait, we forgot the diaper bag.
And we're off.
We make a stop at a local fast food joint for lunch and make it to the theater about 30 minutes before the movie is scheduled to start. As we approach the box offices, it becomes clear that no one is there to give us the warm welcome one would expect when about to drop a 50 note. Instead we are greeted by 5 ticketing kiosks. They stand side by side in a row and I expect to hear the opening drums for the royal changing of the guard wherein the machines would stand at attention, salute and begin the ritual replacement by 5 identical machines. This would have been worth a 50 note.
I have come to realize I have absolutely zero talent with anything electronic. This has been proven, without fail, on numerous occasions. When I need cash, it's a difficult decision: try panhandling or lose my card to the merciless ATM. Go ahead, hand me the tin cup and accordion. Needless to say, when I saw that we were going to have to battle the corps of card crunching kiosks, I turned to my wife and said, "Well it looks like they're closed. Maybe we should try back later." My wife who, in our family has earned the title of "Our Fearless Leader" stepped up to the machine, inserted our payment card, and began furiously pushing buttons and pulling levers. With several beeps and slurs, and some smoke, okay not so much smoke, we were given the message that maybe the most annoying message ever created. "Loading, please wait." This is a problem on a couple of fronts. First, how long am I supposed to wait? A minute, an hour, maybe until Nursing Home Muscial comes out? Second, what to do if nothing happens, which was the outcome this time. Fortunately we notice a commotion near the box office. A young man setting up his cash drawer. We jump into line and purchase our tickets. A quick glance at the watch reveals 15 minutes to spare.
We found our theater to be empty save an elderly woman in the back row, probably a music teacher or maybe someone from the original cast of "Grease" there to check out the new breed. After sitting through what seemed an endless stream of previews, and previews of the previews to come, the featured presentation began. In a nutshell, the movie was brilliant. The production, writing, acting and choreography were spectacular as were the first two installments. But the day was so much more than just a great show. The sky was an endless sea of blue, the temperature was cool and my wife and kids were the greatest company anyone could ever ask for. Playing hooky with these girls was the greatest fun and I can't wait to do it again.