It took a shockingly long time for me to get started on this Grease set. It seemed simple enough: A few core characters from the musical painted in pattern-free outfits. Simple pimple. But the first doll was what tripped me up. The first doll is the Greased Lightning. A car. I didn’t say no because Grease and the Greased Ligtnin’ go together. It’s like painting a set of Christine without Christine the car, right? I’ve seen some insanely creative matryoshka sets that are just cars, but I’ve never been interested in just outright painting a doll as a car. No, it had to be an actual car or else. And that is the part where I complicated things even further.

I’m no carpenter, so I had to dig an old art school friend out from the woodworks (see what I did there?) and enlist his help with just what sort of wood would work on this one. He’s a master with a jig saw, a tool I’m pretty sure I A) cannot find in my garage and B) that I will lose a thumb if I attempt to use one. First things first though. I measured up the dolls and looked around for suitable types of wood before settling on the two I know I could comfortably work with. Then I made some patterns and passed them off to my unpaid intern (husband). This turned out to be a stroke of genius because it turned into HIS project. He’s one of those guys who needs everything to be Exactly Right, unlike me, who would often allow a millimeter to slide here and there. He introduced me to types of glue I didn’t even know existed and sawed and hammered and even designed and 3D printed some fairly important elements like the wheels and the windscreen and even the headlights. I had in my mind some wonky looking wheels I was going to cut out of foam but these are even better!

While the car that I have outsourced was being made, I focused on the more traditional aspects of this set.

(Clockwise from top) John Travolta as Danny Zuko, Jeff Conaway as Kinickie Murdoch, Didi Conn as Frenchie, Stockard Channing as Rizzo and of course, Queen Olivia Newton John as Good Sandy.

The painting of the car took two nights. I had to put down several layers of white paint and create templates for the lightning bolts because if you, and I learned this from experience, attempt to put white on top of red, the red will always reign supreme and seep into the white and that’s when the crying begins. So the bolts had to be taped down and cut out first. Then the four layers of red, three of them different shades, were put down. A few harrowing hours were spent taking the tape off the bolts and cleaning them up. When all the external bits were glued on and everything was dry, I was able to put the entire set together for the first time!

In the seventh grade the popular kids in my grade got together and performed “We Go Together” for the school talent show, complete with appropriate costumes. This was rather sweet, except they went on right before the school band (me included in the flute section), where the horns section decided to empty their spit valves right after they tooted out the last note of “Little Brown Jug.” I still cringe every time I think of my classmates having to put their hands on the damp stage floor during one of the maneuvers. And get this, two of the boys in the performance also contributed to the spit-a-rama.