Tuesday, August 7, 2007

From the mouths of babes

MadPriest will enjoy this.

So will Peacebang. (She's also here. And her lovely rant about cultural styles, which reminded me of my birth family and of my ministerial-ecclesial families, is here.)

The scene:

Large gathering room at my parents' retirement community. Thirty-odd of us from three generations (there is now a fourth -- one child and another on the way -- but they and their parents had to stay home on the other side of the Atlantic) have finished large meal plus long round of public story-telling with laughter, groans, and applause. My aunt, one of the few surviving members of the oldest generation, a pianist, writer of children's musicals, and former vocal coach for Broadway singer-actors, sits down at the piano, dementia and all, and despite her bad arm which is still in a sling, starts playing show tunes, Cole Porter, Gershwin, requests from her own musicals in which several of the cousins acted in summer camp, and finally, requests from Broadway musicals. Everyone claps appreciatively and she is putting on an amazing performance.

I request tunes from my favorite Broadway musical, Guys and Dolls, and lead four female cousins in an appropriately silly and campy rendition of "A Bushel and a Peck" (the star number by the Hot Box chorus girls -- see Act I, Scene 4 here for context) complete with waving arms and wiggling bodies. (Did I mention that this family is full of hams and loudmouths?)

The youngest member in attendance, a boy, age 9, pipes up in an alarmed voice:

"Is this an asylum?"

Except that he has never heard it pronounced, though being a literate sort like most of us, he has seen it written. So he says "ASS-ill-um."

"What?" says one of the cousins.

"Asylum," says the adorable young one. "A place for crazy people."

"Yes," say I, "that's right. Every last one of us." (Very pleased with my family and looking fondly upon the adorable young one.)

The boy's aunt (my first cousin, age 40) grabs him from behind in a big hug and in a fake scary voice says, "and we're your FAMILY, so you're DOOMED."

So far, no signs of trauma in the kid, but it's only been four days.

This is the same boy who, when told there would be all sorts of people he wouldn't know or remember at this reunion, said "That's okay, I'll just go around and hug everybody." Which he did.

P.S.**Video of two of the tunes from the 1971 and 1992 revivals of "Guys and Dolls." Once you get to the site, click the screen on the right, you religious types. Don't you think the Episcopal Church could use a little of this? (The tune on the left-hand screen is pretty funny, too.)

P.P.S. **Video of "A Bushel and a Peck" coming shortly in separate post. Not performed by anyone in my family, though. We do have to keep some boundaries in this blogging business.


Paul said...

Welcome back. Glad you caught the Signoret. I remembered the title in both languages but had to google to assiste my memory on who wrote it.

Love the asylum anecdote! We're all doomed.

Grandmère Mimi said...

That youngster knew what he was talking about. The trauma will come.

Jane R said...

Mimi, we've got three psychotherapists in the extended family, so maybe that will help. ;-) Neither of the boy's parents is in the profession though, which is probably a good thing.