Friday, April 20, 2012

Grease Doesn't Live Here Anymore


Last night I had the strange pleasure of watching a movie which I should have watched in the summer of 1978.  In  many ways, I was always the outsider, even in my own culture.  Though my father took me to a few Saturday matinees of Disney movies, my mother took me only to the adult movies she liked. 

That's why I was a little girl in a dark movie house watching "Harold and Maude" .  It's about a man obsessed with killing himself until he meets an octogenerian funeral frequenter whom he befriends and then beds.  Astragferallah.  She ends up killing herself, by the way, so I'll add another, "astragerallah".  It became my favorite movie.  Ruth Gordon became the balance to my adoration of Marilyn Monroe.  In 1986, when she came to my city for the premiere of her husband Garson Kanin's newest play, I arranged for a thank-you note to be hand delievered to her in the theatre lobby. 

Of course the greatest message of the movie ended up being through the music: 

"If you want to be free, be free!"

"I'm on the road to find out."

The songs were from Cat Stevens, who later came to Islam as Yusuf Islam, alhumdulillah.  I believe now that a major reason I was attracted to the movie was actually a pull towards Islam.  If you are searching for goodness then you will find it even if it has to be sifted away from all the badness you're consuming.

There wasn't much that I remember of the movie, "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore".  I don't remember the story but I remember being scared.  It was a grown-up show.  That glimpse of a single mom became the gist of the TV show, "Alice".  Remember that?  Every 70s show had its catch phrase and "Alice" had, "Kiss my grits!"

I always felt a bit alien as a child.  For one thing, I didn't have the same media filling my head as my classmates.  When I read an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, I felt a kind of sad kinship with him.  Astragferallah, what his mother, Gloria Vanderbuilt, exposed him to was so far removed from human decency that I almost don't want to mention it.  However, if we are to belong to Islam, it's good to remember the haram we are eliminating from our lives.  Alhumdulillah we are mindful of our consumption.

That's why it was strange to finally watch John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in, "Grease,"  last night.  I should have watched it as a ten-year-old before entering fifth grade.  I heard all the music.  I think I even bought a couple 45s (those are the small phonograph records...which were before CDs...and CDs were before MP3s).  My, that was a long time ago!

I sat on my comfy couch in the (finally) furnished salon alhumdulillah.  I sat with my little family alhumdulillah.  I sat with my beliefs in what is good and clean and commendable.  I watched dating, cheating, sexy dancing, smoking, drinking, rudeness, dangerous behavior, and even an unwanted teen pregnancy.  Honestly, I was shocked to learn that the movie I was supposed to have seen at age 10 (the one that all my friends had seen) was as full of filth as all the movies to which my mom had taken me.  Yet, because it was wrapped in the American flag and written off as the fun fifties, we are supposed to sip it through the straw like Coca Cola. 

Really?  Does Sweetheart Sandy really stop wearing modest clothes and change into a hootchie mama outfit?  This is the happily ever after?!  They tramps around the school carnival singing, "You Better Shape Up," as Sexy Sandy tries seducing the heck out of her boy-man.

John Travolta.  I've got to say that I have heard 30 years of compliments regarding his dancing only to have them disproved last night.  No, he really isn't a good dancer.  He moves.  He can move his body.  He doesn't, however, have a groove.  He isn't groovy.  He is too light in his loafers.  He isn't a man I could enjoy watching dance, though he's attractive.  Give me a cool dude like Gene Kelly, Shah Rukh or Jackie Chan who all bring some manly showmanship and acknowledgment of performing for the audience.

It was hard to see Jeff Conaway.  He was so magnetic as the bad boy.  As a girl, I had watched him in the TV show, "Taxi," and was drawn to his energy.  He had such a jubilant spirit.  Yet, he died at 60 from living the lie; more is not really better, "just one," really can hurt you and too many will kill you.

It's been a tough week at my house.  Alhumdulillah.  I've really been searching the depths of my intentions.  I've prayed over decisions and made resolves and resolutions.  Alhumdulillah. 

I talked with two women this week who helped me see where I am.  Alhumdulillah I'm OK where I am.  One woman is seeking a marriage with a man who gives her love but won't commit.  One woman is seeking a divorce from a man who is committed to her but won't give love.  Astragferallah for the men who don't realize how much pain we endure.

I watched a BBC report on the acid attacks in Pakistan.  My husband wanted to switch the channel because there are a million other satellite stations so why watch something so unpleasant.  I made him switch back and did so with righteous indignation.  What is happening to our sisters in Pakistan at the hands of their male family members is haram.  HARAM!  And it is happening on average TWICE every week.  Two women loose their meaningful lives and become like, "a living corpse" to quote Shama, one of the victims profiled.

Haram is a spectrum.  There are small harams which only go on in your head.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson warns us,

"Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything."

I wanted my husband to understand the reality of how haram starts from our thoughts and can grow as we allow Shaytan to work in our lives.  A man's cruel thoughts about his wife can become mean words.  His mean words can become hard blows.  The hard blows can become sudden injuries.  The sudden injuries can become unrevokable disfigurment or death.  Astragferallah.

Women...okay....me...I can be so shrill.  I can be that braying donkey which the Quran warns us about: 


وَاقْصِدْ فِي مَشْيِكَ وَاغْضُضْ مِن صَوْتِكَ ۚ إِنَّ أَنكَرَ الْأَصْوَاتِ لَصَوْتُ الْحَمِيرِ

We prove ourselves so strong, right?  When we have a point to make we open our mouths wide and let loose a diatribe on our husbands.  We...okay...me...I have been too upset and used my voice and my words to hurt.  I don't want to be that person.  I don't want to be a woman alone---whether unmarried or unhappily married. 

 It is Friday and time for another khotba.  Please watch Imam Khalid Latif "Every 2 Minutes:  Sexual Violence".  This comes to us from New York.  He is a very well spoken gentleman who seems to truly understand women and our relationships.  We have different needs than men but we are still needing the same respect.  He is truly eloquent. 

If you don't have a lot of time then just watch at 13:50 when he flat out condemns the abuse of women.  It is Sunnah; following the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be kind to those weaker than overselves. 

" The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never struck a woman, a child or a servant."

Never.  No matter if the woman was shrill, the child was fussy or the servant was insolent.  We spend so much of our lives attempting to emulate the greatness of our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).  Yet, we lash out at those who are closest to us as if we had the right.  We don't!

Alhumdulillah, if you've identified with any part of what I've written then you've lived a life.  You've been a real person.  You've been a child.  You've felt alone.  You've wished for companionship and for protection.  You are here.  I am here.  Alhumdulillah.  We have made it here by The Grace of God.  God is Great.

As we watched the last song of, "Grease," my husband pulled me up off the couch to dance.  My boy jumped up and joined.  It was joyous.  Alhumdulillah for delaying gratifcation until the right time with the right people in the right place.  Alhumdulillah for Allah's plan.


3 comments:

MarieHarmony said...

It reminded so many memories. I think I watched it I was 12 or 13. I did not understand everything at the time.
I just love the songs, the clothes but it's true the story is not that fabulous and I agree John Travolta is not a good dancer.
I hope things are well for you dear. Sometime it takes time to find our place in our lives and homes. You are in my prayers always.
take care.

egyptchick7 said...

OMG you haven't seen Grease until now?? I watched it when I was much younger and I don't think it influenced me any which way-agreed w above commentator- I was too young to understand the innuendos- loved the music and dancing-

John Travolta- bad dancer?? Maybe not in this per se but have you seen "Saturday Night Fever"?? Excellent movie but long and sad...it features his graceful skills tho-

Very sad about Jeff Conway- and sad for what is happening in Pakistan-

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Marie,

It's funny the movies we watched as we were forming our minds and morals. Did those images and ideals really pass over us without affecting us? I don't know.

A couple of years ago...or longer (since I've been here a couple of years) I picked up "16 Candles". I was so sure it was a movie about a first kiss. That's how I remembered it from the million times I watched it as a teenager.

NOPE! It was about losing virginity in high school. I was dumbfounded. How did I misconstrue that?! I had NO rememberance of that being the plot. So, did I not really understand? Did I not really care what they were saying and doing? Not sure.

It's a long time ago since I was a teen. Now I have teens of my own. May Allah protect all teens in the world!

Alhumdulillah for my life. I am not quite finding my place right now. Or maybe...I have my place (more than ever before) but I'm not sure if it's really mine and if I'm meant to be here (not simply in a geographic sense but in a wider sense too. I'll keep putting my faith in Allah and move slowly to see what happens.

Thank you for good thoughts!

Asalamu Alaykom EgyptChick,

I KNOW! I KNOW! I am a loser for missing out on American culture. I have no idea how I was allowed not to see it.

I remember seeing clips of SNF but I don't think I've seen that whole movie EITHER. The soundtrack was playing at every home when it came out. And I didn't escape that.

Travolta being a "bad dancer" is my analysis. I don't like his way of shaking it though I totally get that he has a nice form to shake. I remember seeing him in Pulp Fiction and thought he was cooler.

I hate to put in sad stuff into this blog. I just felt it though---on the small level with Jeff Conway and on the large level with Pakistan.

Did you listen to the khotba? Honestly, it's so affirming of us as Muslim women. Please give it a whirl :) EgyptGirl. Sorry, I had to change your name but it rhymes better.