Get Your Kicks on Route 66

No one would ever call me a drama queen–at least, not in the figurative sense.  Not in the literal sense either, since never once in my sixty years have I ever tried out for the elementary school play, the high school musical, the college a capella groups or the fourth year medical student end of the year shebang.  I may do a good dog and pony show by tripping over a dog and flying through the air, or falling off a horse (and, again, flying through the air), but I am no song and dance man.  Inspired by a high school sweetheart who sang and played guitar, I bought a used Gibson J50 acoustic in 1970 only to have my music teacher (who had guaranteed she could teach ANYONE to sing) pronounce me hopeless.  The boyfriend is long gone, but forty four years later I still have that guitar as a souvenir of my high school longings and failings.  And I still can’t sing.

Today, however, I had the pleasure of attending the annual musical revue at La Costa Glen, the senior community where my father now lives. A few months ago, Dad told me that he was dating a “young lady.”  With some trepidation and with visions of the said “young lady” seeing the retired plastic surgeon as a meal ticket, I asked “How young, Dad?”  He smiled and said, “She’s eighty three.” A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to meet his new “friend” Evelyne, who is by any definition what we oldsters would call a “hot ticket.”  Petite, and beautiful and French Canadian with a charming accent, Evelyne has travelled the world, had her own music school where she taught piano lessons, and when her first husband had a major heart attack and wanted to sell his beloved airplane, Evelyne decided to learn to fly it herself.   And fly she did, all the way from San Diego to Montreal and back.  When the movers and shakers at La Costa Glen decided that the annual play would be a musical entitled, Get Your Kicks On Route 66, Evelyne decided to learn to tap dance.  My husband and I had tickets for today’s matinee.

For an hour and a half today we got to see a very talented group of octogenarians light up the stage, telling the story of a group of seniors who decide to take a bus trip down the old Route 66, and gracing each stop along the way with song and dance routines and some wickedly funny storytelling, mostly poking fun at themselves– their restaurant ordering habits, their need for frequent “pit stops” and their own memory lapses.  A retired physician gave a Broadway worthy rendition of “Old Man River” and a retired professional songstress hit the boards again with “My Kind of Town.”  Evelyne sang and square danced her way through “Cotton Eyed Joe” and tap danced her heart out to “One” during the last bus stop in New York City.  By the time they headed for home with “California Here We Come”, the whole audience was clapping and singing along—even tone deaf yours truly.

Which brings me to the idea that perhaps it’s never too late to try out for the school play.  One of my birthday presents this year was a ukulele, which I have sworn to master.  I just won’t sing. And I hear there’s a North County dance studio that offers tap classes.  Bill Robinson, Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell—step aside!  I figure I’ve got about twenty years to practice before I audition at La Costa Glen. Anyone care to join me in a little soft shoe?

10 thoughts on “Get Your Kicks on Route 66

  1. Life really opens up when you stop working-working-working. For example: before I quite my full-time job years ago all I knew about my neighbors were their names. Now, many years later, my neighbors are a wonderful part of my life.

    When you come home too exhausted to do much more than eat and watch TV, it leaves too little time for community.

  2. This one brought a wonderful smile to my face. Happy for your dad and Evelyn. But, mostly happy for you and your chances to engage in life and anything you want to pursue. Have a blast.

  3. Saving this one, what a wonderful story. Of course not everyone at 83 is going to be tap dancing, but it sounds like such fun over at “La Costa Glen” and a great one to pass on to anyone dreading joining a senior’s community. Thank you.

  4. What fun!! Evelyne sounds great, too!
    Before I retired, I bought a violin then discovered I was tone deaf & couldn’t tune it! Luckily, my husband plays. I also bought a set of drums – something I definitely wanted. I do play them but not enough. I also tap dance ( since @ age 7) so let me know if you need a partner. Enjoy!

  5. Glad to know there is still fun to be had, no matter the age! But, like you, I am betting I still can’t sing! Perhaps what makes it even worse is I am not tone deaf, so I can hear when the notes, be they sung or played, are off. Painful to me. Perhaps to others around me. Usually the reason I keep my mouth shut

  6. Am so happy that your Dad has found some happiness – after so many grueling years alone. Cheers to him! And now that you are retired, Cheers to you for having some FUN at this event! Maybe 2014 will be a happier year for all. Will be in touch – promise.

  7. Wonderful slices of life; thank you for sharing.
    I still regret selling my guitar, while in college…no job, needed to buy food. Fortunately, we paid tuition and rent by the semester back then, so I just needed to figure out how to eat! The toughest summer was when I had to sell my 10-speed bicycle for the same reason.
    And, go ahead and sing — I just do it when no human is listening, even my bird likes my voice (but her’s is pretty horrid, she sings with me)!

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