While going to an all-girl school or being a dork does not necessarily equate to being a social invalid, the two of those things together mean that, between the ages of 12 and 18, I did not talk to boys. That’s not entirely true — I did debate, so there were the weird annoying arrogant debate boys, not to mention my two guy friends from elementary school and my cat, Theo. And so because I spent my Saturday nights since 2005 watching TV and eating cookie dough, everything I know about the opposite sex comes from a weird amalgamation of John Hughes movies, British teenage sitcoms and She’s the Man. Now, however, I have realized that watching Clueless a million times may not be an adequate substitute for having a social life. The following are my top five misconceptions about the world that have been shattered since coming to college.
1. There are no 18-year-olds who look like Channing Tatum. Okay so this one was kind of a no-brainer. I always had an inkling that it was too good to be true. When Channing Tatum shot She’s the Man, he was 26 years old. Similarly, Penn Badgley was 24 in Easy A, even Paul Rudd was 27 when he played Josh in Clueless. Not to mention a 28-year-old Cory Monteith who somehow passes for 17 every week on Glee. This is a phenomenon that is strangely limited to the guys. While yes, most of the actresses who play high school sophomores are not actually 15, they are much closer to that age than their male counterparts. Amanda Bynes was 20 in She’s the Man, Emma Stone was 22 in Easy A, and Alicia Silverstone was also only 20 in Clueless. In any case, it has always been fairly obvious that the actors who play teenagers could actually legally buy alcohol for the characters they play. My vague hope that there are teenagers who look like Aaron Samuels (Mean Girls) was one of the first to go.
2. Sports are not the most important thing anyone can do, ever. Whether it’s Emilio Estevez in The Breakfast Club, any character in Friday Night Lights or Troy from High School Musical, sports have always seemed integral to any high school experience. But as comedian Eugene Mirman puts it in his Youtube video, Eugene Mirman’s The Will to Whatevs Tip #44: Surviving High School, “Several years after you leave high school, about eight, everyone becomes fat and sports are no longer important. There aren’t a lot of lacrosse jobs after high school.” And the more I’ve talked to people who went to “normal” high schools, the more I’ve realized that the importance of being the quarterback or captain of whatever team has been greatly exaggerated.
3. Prom is not the most important night of your life. I missed my prom because of a family thing. I’m fine. Thank you Never Been Kissed and 10 Things I Hate About You, for misleading me on that one.
4. Girls do not not wear heels to school. When I first saw Easy A, I was so happy that it was about a seemingly normal teenage girl with a sound mind and a smart mouth. And then I saw her wearing high heels in every single scene of the movie (even before she dresses like a skank). I freaked out a bit. I know that most girls did not wear ripped sweatpants under their uniform skirts with stained, oversized polo shirts like I did, but was I really that out of touch? It turns out that the answer was no. While I dressed decidedly more hobo-esque than many, apparently the most dressed up normal people get during school is wearing dark-wash jeans, or maybe black pants. So costumers for Mean Girls and Easy A, this one is on you.
5. Rory Gilmore does not exist. Do not get me wrong, I love Gilmore Girls. Seasons one through four (or five depending on how you feel about Dean) charm and delight audiences. But, Rory is not real. In case you’re unfamiliar with the show, here’s a brief description of the character: beautiful, smart, witty, editor of the newspaper in high school and at Yale, valedictorian, class vice-president; all of this while also staying low-key and down to earth. Plus, every boy she meets ever on the show falls in love with her. Everyone from Chad Michael Murray to Milo Ventimiglia ditches his douche ways just to spend time with Rory, innocently watching a movie. Rory Gilmore is perfect; there is no getting around it. She has no flaws. So it was actually kind of a relief to see that, she does not really exist. It lowers the standards for us all. This plus knowing that 18-year-old Channing Tatum also is not real, means that I actually feel pretty good about my life.