I have a friend named Morris who lives in an assisted living facility across town. To describe what kind of a fellow he is, I must tell you that he changed his telephone message for the holidays. It says, “You have reached a number that does not accept felicitations. Keep your Feliz Navidads to yourself!”
If you have seen the movie Grumpy Old Men, the Walter Matthau character was patterned after Morris, only Hollywood cleaned him up a bit. He lives to torment his caregivers, putting sugar on his frosted flakes just to “gross them out.” There is a stash of fake-vomit (the rubber kind) in his closet that he strategically places in the hallway. And when people tell him he’s not politically correct, he argues that he is. If he had been the producer, the movie would be named Grumpy old Men and Women.
He also uses reverse elderspeak. If a dining room worker has an accident, he says, “Did we drop the tray of dishes, Dearie?” Or if he notices that one of the rooms is suddenly vacant, he stops by the administrator’s office and says, “Honey, did the staff kill off another resident last night? We need to stop doing that with paying customers.”
Morris was complaining the other day about Christmas music. His opinion is that there haven’t been any good Christmas songs since Eartha Kitt recorded “Santa Baby” Click Here in 1953. He basically likes Christmas carols, which were released centuries ago, but disc jockeys don’t play them as much on the radio as they do secular Christmas songs.
I don’t know much about Christmas music, but I got online. The forties and fifties were obviously great contributors to what has been heard on the radio ever since, but I only had to beat 1953 to prove Morris wrong. “Morris, ‘Little Drummer Boy’ was released in 1958 and ‘Do You Hear What I Hear’ in 1962.”
“Can’t hear you!” he yelled. “Nothing good since ‘Santa Baby.’”
“Then how about ‘Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,’ 1964?
Naw, I never liked Burl Ives.
“You should. For someone who doesn’t like Christmas, you look more like him every year. Must be all that eggnog.”
“I never said I didn’t like Christmas.” Morris sighed deeply, “I just don’t appreciate most of what passes as Christmas music around here. And they play it in the dining room all month.”
“MOST of what passes? I thought you said there hadn’t been ANY good Christmas music since ‘Santa Baby.’”
“There might have been a couple of songs that I didn’t hate, but none of it’s any good.”
“You forget? Well, I haven’t forgotten. Last year you told me that you liked ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.’”
“I do like the story; still, Eartha Kitt rules.”
I looked at my screen. “Wait a minute. I’ve heard this song before but not often. It’s got a lot better story than ‘Santa Baby.’ It’s called, ‘Mary’s Boy Child/Oh my Lord,’ Click Here by a group named Boney M.”
We sat in the common area of the second floor listening to the song. Three ladies got off the elevator and as they walked by, they broke into dance, at least a little bit.
“I hate it when they do that,” Morris said.
“But it’s got a beat to it, doesn’t it?”
“The only Boney M I know is Boney Maroni. Who are these people?”
I flipped to a Wikipedia page. “It says they’re a Euro-Caribbean group created by a German record producer.”
“Germany should have never switched to the euro.”
“So some believe.”
“I can hear the Caribbean sound. Thought it might have something to do with Jimmy Buffet. But Germans do pretty good with Christmas carols.”
“Do you like it? Is ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ any good?”
“Is it new?” he asked.
“No. It’s been out for years in Europe, since maybe the seventies.”
“Then I don’t like it.”
“One of the jobs we elderly have is griping about the way things are today. If I found something I liked from as recently as the seventies, I wouldn’t doing my job.”
“Griping that there haven’t been any good Christmas songs released since 1953, ‘Santa Baby.’”