My good friend’s son is auditioning for The Sound of Music, and hearing about it roused my inner drama geek. I think he’d make a great Rolf, and so I started humming Sixteen Going on Seventeen while I was at work today.
And I realized there’s some bad advice in there. Not just the obvious sexism of a young woman needing a man to help her navigate her budding sexuality. That goes without saying at that point.
It’s that advice about roués and cads who are going to offer you food and wine.
Honestly, if you think about the kind of girl who’s going to pay attention to Rodgers and Hammerstein, this is the wrong advice altogether. I’ll admit, that I was “totally unprepared…to face a world of men” when I was sixteen going on seventeen. And I’ve met a few cads in my time who offered me wine. But that I could handle. I can honestly say that none of my man trouble was ever caused by food and/or wine.
What I really needed when I was sixteen, and what most girls who memorize that song really need, is a working gaydar. Watching musicals makes you think that gay men are some kind of ideal, which is fine if you’re a gay boy, but isn’t great for the young, straight girls out there. I would have had a lot more free time when I was young if I hadn’t wasted any having crushes on and/or dating gay men.
So I spent my time looking out for the roués of the world when I should have been paying more attention to the boys I liked and whether or not they were checking each other out. Seriously, the roué thing is totally overblown. You steered me wrong, musical theater.