Tonight I went to a high school production of the musical Chicago. It got me feeling incredibly misty-eyed and nostalgic for my own school musical days. Suddenly feeling very old as I realised that these kids on stage weren’t even born when it was my turn. 

But looking at them, it was like I was back there. Examining their faces for expressions of excitement, their body language giving away little clues of clumsiness and insecurity. 

Most of all, I look amongst them, and I wonder “Who has a crush on who?”

Oh, the high school musical crushes! Was there anything more glorious?!

They were such beautiful, soul-consuming, painful, festering, giddy things. They would develop in the first week of rehearsals and last the entire term. Twelve weeks of torture and bliss all in one. Nothing like spending every lunch hour, three nights a week, plus weekends with the person of your desire to really get the heart racing and imagination flying. Not being able to wait for opening night, but also, feeling sad as in the back of your mind you know that once the show is done, these nights of being in his, or her, proximity will be over. You see your time together vanishing before your eyes. 

Getting up the courage to sit one seat closer to them, each rehearsal. Stolen glances from across the stage. Being able to watch them, unashamedly, in all their glory, longing for them, from the wings, as they stand out on stage and perform their solo. The stabbing jealousy every time they have to hold another cast members hand, or god forbid, kiss them, in another scene and you cry “why can’t it be me?” You’re utterly convinced that they’re going to fall in love now, and elope. 

But then, after three nights of performance, it’s all over. 

But all is not lost. Because, there’s there it is, there awaits the payback! Your final chance, at the end of the journey, to get close to them: the sacred After-Party. 

The After-Party is always held at someone’s house in the backwaters of suburbia. You are all under age, but some how have a copious amount of Kristov vodka and RTD’s. Everyone is going apeshit. You’re trying to be cool, and hang out with your friends, but you can’t stop scanning the room, anxious that he’s not there. 

Eventually, at 10pm he arrives. 

And it all becomes a bit of a blur from there. 

It’s 11pm and you’re talking to him. 

12pm and somehow you’re wearing his military jacket. 

And then it’s 1am and taxi vans have been called and your friends are telling you that you have to go soon, but you say JUST HANG ON A FEW MINUTES and you’re both standing out on the freezing, frosty, back porch. The sky is black, the stars are bright, and your breath is white mist. And suddenly, suddenly, you don’t know how and you don’t know why, but he’s leaning in…and you’re pashing. It’s happening. It’s really really really fucking happening oh my god. Oh my god. 

It’s taken twelve weeks. Hundreds of hours of brainpower and imagining. Half a bottle of $15 vodka. And endless blind optimism and wishing. But you are finally kissing your school production crush.

You congratulate yourself. 

It was all worth it.

You did it. 

You win. 

So to those kids in the show tonight, I wish you the best of after-parties tomorrow. I’m so excited for you and the chance to hopefully, finally, get that pash. I feel your anxiety, rush of hormones and sense of opportunity. Go for it. Be brave. Be bold. 

God speed, little ones. Go get them (in a consensual, legal, respectful, and safe manner, of course).x

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