May 21, 2007

HARDLINERS

Weekend fun report from the oldest town in Indiana:

-found out that my great grandparents were in a band together with two of their neighbors, circa 1920. On Saturdays, they'd have a bunch of people over and they'd roll up the rug and people would dance while they played popular songs. He played mandolin and violin and she played piano. My grandma, aged four-ish, hid in a closet that she had accidentally locked herself in, for several hours, and did not holler to be let out, even though the dirty clothes were kept in the closet and it smelled awful, because she loved the music.

-brought a puppy to the nusing home to visit my grandma. All I could think about was the PBS nature show from two weeks ago where they said dogs smell 650 times more intensely than humans, and the nusing home, to my average human nose reeks of general infirmary and stale urine. I imaged what it would be like to smell that smell with infinite intensity and felt terrible for the dog, until I realized that he was super into investigating the nursing home's many smells and all the wheelchaired grandmas were psyched on being petting stations.

-the dogs name is Mikey and he looks like Knut Das Eisbar baby and his bark is so high and squeaky he sounds like a rusty gate hinge when he opens his lap.

-If you can play piano at all, you need to put together a nursing home band with your friends who can half sing and learn "Swinging on Down The Lane", "It had To Be You," "Moon River" and like, 3-4 other songs that are the favorites of all 89 year old people and go play them at whatever nursing home in yr hood that'll have you. Seriously. Imagine you are 70-90, all your friends and most of your family are dead, your mind/arms/left foot are missing and you spend your day startng out a window at traffic and hoping there is a reason to get out of bed other than to use the bathroom. Everyone wants to volunteer to help out kids, because it's a no brainer, but kids are ungrateful and have their whole life ahead of them. Old people have whatever memories they can half remember, and are often times just waiting around to die. If you so much as say hi to lonely old people they will tear up with gratitude. And your thought "Oh fuck, what if this is what my old age is like" is blotted out by the joy of your tiny action that brought joy to someone. SO: You need to start an old timey old people's casual entertainment ensemble that plays soft music. I will do it too. We can compare notes and repretoire. If you don't have a band, just take an animal to visit, and if all you have is a metal band or a political rap band, try and book a show at the parking lot of the VA hospital. Seriously. Summer project, people. This is where the pact comes in. Forget working on your tan and reading a book a month or whatever your noble exercise in me-time was slated to be--it is time to holler at the forgotten, lonely and elderly. Nursing homes are in many ways, terribly frightening to visit. But for now, all you have to do is visit and make it easier on people who have to live there.

-I'm real serious. Put that band together. If you live in Chicago, lets make it happen--I have maracas and a car. Most nursing homes have pianos or organs. We are resourceful people with big hearts who understand that songs you love make life worth living. Think about it. Maybe if you do this, then, one day, when you are 81, someone is going to come and play "Magic Man" or "Jordan, MN" or Gnarls Barkley songs you hate and it will absolutely make your fucking day. C'mon. Do it.

Posted by Jessica at May 21, 2007 12:55 AM | TrackBack