OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN GREASE’D OUR TEENAGE HEARTS


By Akin Ojumu

In every generation, there’s a song, a movie, that catches the youth like a contagion. For people my age, that bug was Grease. The romantic musical is still fondly remembered by many of us till this day. When it comes to classic movies, the 1978 box office ranks high up there on the charts. It was, perhaps, the one movie that singularly ushered me and my contemporaries into the world out there at the outer limits of our imaginations and far beyond our immediate geographical boundaries. Grease helped, in no small measures, shaped our world view on social matters, particular how to deal with the opposite sex.

The leading actors in Grease were none other than Oliver Newton-John and John Travolta. These two were the megastars of that time. Many teenage girls there were swept off their feet by the leather jacket clad, greasy haired, smooth operator Danny Zuko (John Travolta), the leader of a pack of rascals. And there were many teenage boys whose first crush was the sweet voiced, stupendously beautiful Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John).

As pimple-faced teenagers, we learned how to navigate the choppy waters of adolescent romance by watching Grease. Our first lessons on how to make the girls swoon was seeing how the leather-clad bad boy Danny moved on sweet innocent girl, Sandy Olsson. In High School, John Travolta’s jerry coiled hair became a fad and his dance moves were the “it” of parties. Back then, the girls looked like walking-talking Sandy Olsson baby dolls costumed in yellow sweaters, white top and belt, and yellow dress skirts. John Travolta and Oliver Newton-John were the celebrities who charmed our teenage hearts.

As I write this, my mind takes a trip down memory lane, back to Ijapo Estate, Akure. I remember how me and my childhood friends used to gather around small TV screens to watch Grease play on Betamax video players. These many years later, I still have a vivid recollection of when and where I first saw Grease. The tune of Summer Nights still rings in my ears and I can’t help but tap my feet and whistle along.

Today, the curtain is drawn on that memorable chapter of my formative and impressionable years. Olivia Newton-John is with us no more. Sadly, the Grease superstar passed away peacefully earlier this morning, Monday, August 8, 2022, at her Ranch in Southern California, after a long bout with cancer; she was first diagnosed with cancer in 1992. She was 73.

So long, Olivia Newton-John. Thank you for your contributions towards making us the adult we’ve become today. My deepest condolences to the family she left behind.

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