IT IS DIFFICULT for an adult — especially one of my advanced years, somewhat logical mind and thoroughly female persuasion — to put myself in the place of a 21st-century teenage boy.
But if I could, I would imagine that the first thing I would have done in preparation for the annual "Mr. Foothill" talent contest Wednesday night at Foothill High School in Pleasanton would be to give my parents blindfolds.
Yes, folks, unless you've always hoped your wee-widdle bumpkins would be up on stage under bright lights wearing nothing but Speedos and smiles, jiggling what you and Mother Nature gave them in front of teachers, other parents and squealing teenage girls to a medley of James Brown's "I Feel Good," Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" and that ever-popular classic, "The Hokey Pokey," you'd surely appreciate some blissful ignorance.
Then again, knowledge is power, and if you possess the knowledge that your son is scampering around in public dressed as Britney Spears, smashing Taco Supremes in half with his head, or making astronaut-undergoing-G-force-test faces by aiming the business end of a leaf blower at his mouth, you can elicit your parental power to tell him not to do those things anymore. Really. Please. Command him. Take away his (driving/computer/Taco Supreme) privileges if you have to. For the sake of humanity.
And we wonder why public education's getting whacked.
Actually, it was all
These days, you'd never be able to get away with such a show if the contestants were girls, but, well, apparently it's OK for boys because, well, boys will be boys. Unless, of course, they're being Britney Spears.
Now this was not an event I ordinarily would have attended. One, I do not live in the suburbs. Two, I do not have children, and if I did, I would not have teenagers. And three, I didn't have the five bucks for the ticket.
But I was a victim of my own vices, lured out of my comfortable urban chicness by a friend whose daughter goes to Foothill, tempted by the offer of a free ticket and the promise of a preshow dinner at a fine Pleasanton restaurant that serves six-cheese mac-n-cheese with crumbled potato chips on top, bottled Dr Pepper, sour-green-apple cotton candy for dessert and tubes of Pixy Stix instead of after-dinner mints, all of the above being favorite treats when I was a teen myself a couple of years ago, thereby putting me in the proper mood for the show.
As an extra bonus, my friend's younger daughter serenaded us with the "fart app" on her recently acquired iPod Touch. "It can do 20 different farts!" she said, and demonstrated.
Now that's entertainment.
After dinner, we arrived in the school's multipurpose room and joined a standing-room-only crowd of about 250 people to watch the 12 contestants — one per month, Playgirl-calendar style — in a bathing-suit competition (Mr. November experienced a brief wardrobe malfunction when the bra of his mermaid costume abandoned ship). Then the so-called talent portion got under way, followed by an evening-wear segment, with the whole event moderated by the class president and vice president, who threw in occasional shameless plugs for the school's upcoming blood drive and Sadie Hawkins dance.
Early in the show, my friend and I — able to spot talent far better than Simon Cowell, even if he used the Hubble telescope — recognized who would be the eventual Mr. Foothill.: Mr. June, a.k.a. student Matt Clark, the clear crowd favorite, receiving raucous cheers whenever he moved a little finger.
He was also the goofiest. Geek chic, if you will. As my friend noted, "If Beaker (from the Muppets) and Bill Nye the Science Guy had a baby, it would be that kid." Super tall and super skinny with glasses and brown hair, he was an elongated Bill Gates, his spindly arms flailing around in the air like one of those wavy-arm balloon guys that advertise mattress sales, but with a platinum-blond wig and cropped T-shirt. Mr. June had style, charisma and a bony rib cage that just wouldn't quit.
Soon, the judges had spoken and there he was, Mr. Foothill 2010 in all his glory, draped in flowers and a red-velvet crown. He did not cry. He fulfilled his duties with poise, strutting the stage with a backhanded royal wave, which I always thought was not so much of a wave as a gesture meaning, "It's good to be the king. Stay back 100 feet, you lowly, scabrous knaves." Bert Parks did not sing, probably because he's dead.
All in all, it was the best five bucks I never spent.