11. My favorite things

“The Sound of Music” was a great movie. I had a crush on Maria (played by Julie Andrews), the young nun governess for the wealthy Von Trapp family. She helped the Von Trapp children overcome their fears as they faced an uncertain future in 1938 Austria.
But kids aren’t the only ones who face uncertain futures these days. Think about us old guys. I have trouble just hearing the sound of music, much less responding to it.
What about “Sound of Music II: the Golden Years”? This may be my next writing project.
Instead of an Austrian castle, it takes place in a retirement community, most of whose residents are sixty going on seventy. They need someone older and wiser, telling them what to do.
Enter a lovely new caregiver – a mature Maria – played by the 82-year-old Julie Andrews. Maria’s leaving her lifelong career of climbing every mountain in order to follow her most recent dream of helping old guys become more socially secure.
The plot needs some development. The arc (I learned that word from my film school son) has to do with Maria struggling between her mountain-climbing career and this new career of helping seniors adjust to the demands of hearing aids and Medicare.
She responds to a Craig’s List ad looking for a senior wellness counselor for a retirement community. She shows up for the interview, guitar case in hand, and she’s an instant hit with the director. She gets the job.
There’s much more to do on plot and lyrics, but I’ve got the rest of my retired life to do that. For now, I’m sketching out one key scene.
Maria has just moved into her new room with a big king-sized bed. It’s bedtime, and she’s climbing into bed in her flannel granny gown. A thunderstorm rages outside. After a loud clap of thunder, there’s a frantic knock on her door. The door opens, and one of the women residents she just met asks if she can come in. Right behind her is another resident, a gentleman, and they’re both in their warm flannel jammies. Maria smiles, and motions them into her giant bed. Soon three others appear, all visibly shaken by the storm. They all huddle together in the giant fluffy bed.
Maria recognizes this as a teachable moment. “My goodness,” she says, “that’s certainly a scary storm out there. Do you know what I do when I feel scared?” She reaches over and picks up her guitar, which happens to be next to the bed. “I just think of some of my favorite things that I can do now that I’ve reached retirement age.”
She strums a couple chords, and begins to sing…

      Movies on weekdays
      Free help with my taxes.
      Discounts at Denny’s,
      Good wine in big glasses.
      Medicare coverage for health issue things.
      These are a few of my favorite things.

      Always can sleep late
      No matter what day.
      Calls on my birthday
      From kids far away.
      Young people treat us like queens and like kings.
      These are a few of my favorite things.

All six of them are out of bed now, holding hands, and dancing in a circle.

      Grandchildren’s visits,
      And old codger lunches.
      Grape nuts and prune juice
      And Mother’s Day brunches.
      All of the perks our advancing age brings
      These are a few of my favorite things.

They sing the final chorus together, with Maria in the middle.

      When my joints ache,
      When my ears ring,
      When my memory’s gone,
      I try to remember… (Hmmm. Lost my train of thought here)
      And then things don’t seeeeem so wrong.

Another clap of thunder, and they all bounce back into the big comfy bed. As we fade to black, we hear, “I may have broken my hip…”
Okay, it needs some work, but I’ve got plenty of time to work on it, now that I’m retired. And writing’s one of my favorite things.

10 thoughts on “11. My favorite things

  1. This one was a definite LOL Larry. I think you should send it to Mary Schmich at the Tribune. She loves clever poems. Maybe she’d publish it and even give you credit.

  2. I always knew you were a good writer, but I didn’t know you were a lyricist. Move over Stephen Sondheim!

  3. I have to agree with Jane that this performance is mandatory in July. I am sure you can recruit plenty of kinfolk to sing the chorus with you. And certainly Matt can direct the camera angles of the rest of us filming this award winning performance.

    On a side note, Autumn used to watch The Sound of Music, sobbing at the end because she was sure she was supposed to be part of the Von Trapp family, that somehow she had been misplaced with us. Maybe in SoMII, you could include that additional child or cousin?

    1. From a non-Mitchener guest: That’s a really good idea — a sequel to all those things that are changing.

  4. Very clever. You need to have Matt film a Youtube video of the song–you’ll get scads of views.

  5. Haha!! I think your son should consider hiring you for a second career in show biz!!

  6. Beth (my second kid, not the one you thought was deformed and retarded) became a geriatric nurse practitioner. Her first job in that field when she was 16 was reminding elderly Sunrise residents that they had come to the dining room to eat because they were not at all sure why they were sitting in front of food. Possibly Maria should be assigned an employee to handle this task? But love the song! You could probably sell it to Weird Al! xoxox

    1. It was your first son. (Brian, right?) I’d probably never seen that young a newborn, and thought his head shouldn’t be that big. Innocent mistake. I just hope he’s managed to have a normal life.

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