(Continued from April 3rd post)
by Bob Sparrow
The show begins. The entertainment was a husband-wife team in their 50s who had a Captain and Tennille sort of vibe, except he played the keyboard more like a deckhand than a captain and she, pardon the mixed metaphor, couldn’t carry Toni Tennille’s jock strap in a wet paper bag. I have no idea what that means. Their repertoire included mostly Snoop Dog and Lady Gaga stuff. Oops, sorry, that was the music I had running through my iPod during their performance. Just kidding, I don’t have any Snoop Dog. Actually they weren’t bad, as they succeeded in keeping the audience awake, no small task, and on numerous occasions even had them ‘gumming’ the words to some old familiar songs.
Several times during the course of their performance, mom would turn to ‘New Jack’ and start talking about various subjects, not in hush tones, but as if she had learned to whisper in a saw mill. A woman sitting directly behind us, wanted of all things, to listen to the entertainment and not mom’s ‘whisperings’ of sweet nothings into New Jack’s hearing aid. After several room-filling, head-turning ‘shhhhes’, the woman realized that mom was either ignoring her or hard of hearing, or both, so tapped me on the shoulder and nodded over to mom, using the now-familiar, non-verbal, face-contorting, silent language of seniors, that screamed, “Can’t you shut that old stove up?” I shrugged and tried to give a non-verbal look that said, ‘Welcome to my world.’
The entertainment was really just the opening act for the main event – the crowning of the Merrill Gardens Valentines King and Queen. The room quieted as the hostess from ‘god’s waiting room’ came before the group to announce this year’s king and queen. In a very officious way she explained that the king and queen were voted on by the residents and that the results had been sealed since yesterday noon, probably in a prunes jar. She paused dramatically and explained that this year’s voting had a little twist – she would explain later. She announced the names of the king and queen. The new queen hurried to the front to be crowned and explained that the king was in the restroom at the moment and would be out when he was good and ready. The hostess then explained that the voting was so close this year that they decided to crown a runner-up king and queen, which was unprecedented. She then called out, “Jack and Barbara” – New Jack and mom! I leaned over and congratulated mom and whispered to her that as runner-up queen, should the 1st queen, for whatever reason, be unable to perform her queenly duties, that she would become queen!
I must admit that soon after I heard my mom’s named announced I had to restrain myself from jumping up and running around the room shrieking, “I’m a Prince, I’m a Prince”. Or would I be a duke? Whatever, I was inwardly thrilled with this brush with royalty. My enthusiasm dimmed however as I realized that while my sister would become a royal princess, my older brother would be the first in line of succession and as the middle child, I’d be squeezed out again. After this realization, to be completely honest, I became secretly happy that my mom was only runner-up and muttered under my breath, “Long live the queen.”
After the show, mom, New Jack and I retired to mom’s room. I knew my brother and sister were going to be asking a lot of questions about New Jack, so I needed to get some information out of this guy. With the help of some light water-boarding and a flood light, the grilling began. I learned that he was originally from West Virginia, but he seemed to have all his teeth and as far as I could tell did not play the banjo. He was a dentist for 30 years before moving to San Diego and getting into real estate where he apparently found that he could make more money with his hands in people’s pocket than he could with his hands in their mouths. He came to Sonoma because his only child, a daughter, lives there. The daughter has three grown children, the most interesting of which is a son who lives in Taiwan and works for the US government. New Jack thinks he’s a CIA spy of some kind; I think he’s a ping-pong table salesman. All and all, at the end of the interrogation, he seemed worthy of my mom’s attention.
This budding romance is the talk of Merrill Gardens, but will it last? We don’t know whether to expect a call from ‘New Jack’ asking for our mother’s arthritic hand in marriage or a call from mom saying that the ‘Chicken Lady’ is now saving his seat. Time will tell.
Post Script: I have poked some fun at the elderly here, but I poke fun at everyone and I just didn’t want to discriminate. Merrill Gardens does an excellent job of caring for their residents.