“But theatre is always a difficult experience.”

As I look back on the Best-of-Facebook geezer posts, this one stands out. It’s a hair-raising knee-buckling #GEEZERUPDATE in which DooDaddy takes a field trip …

We opted to ride in the relative luxury of Joan Jetta instead of taking the ‪geezer van from Shannondale to “Mighty Musical Monday” at the historic and lovely Tennessee Theatre. DooDaddy and I were especially excited because world-renowned tenor, Mark Fox, brother of Diana Fox and son of fellow Shannondale resident, Miss Peggy (who had just celebrated her 93rd birthday) was in town all the way from Aachen, Germany to perform.

The sun was shining, and all was well as we pulled onto Gay Street at 11:25 for the noon performance. Note to self: Geezers are ALWAYS early. My plan was to drop DooDaddy off out front and go park. But for some reason, the theater doors were not yet open and there was a logjam of walkers, wheelchairs and minivans stretched for blocks. Reminded me of standing in line to see “Jaws” in 1975 at the Park Theatre on Magnolia.

I brazenly stopped in the middle of the street while the light was red, hopped out, popped open the walker, got DooDaddy out and hefted him up on the curb, jumped back in the car (light no longer red) and dashed off. Felt like leaving Mac Bower at the first day of Kindergarten. He looked so vulnerable. My heart was pounding as I ran back up the hill from First Church to find my geezer still stranded on the sidewalk. Theater doors still locked. It was at that moment I realized we should have brought the wheelchair instead of the walker.

Finally the doors opened and the geezer stampede was on. It was like Black Friday at Walmart. There were box lunches to be procured (Chick-fil-A but DooDaddy couldn’t eat his without mayonnaise. Too dry), popcorn to buy, that damn slanted floor I forgot all about, some goober dressed as Barney Fife scaring all the geezers, a jazz pianist and a lounge singer. A veritable minefield of obstacles.

We teetered and tottered precariously up the endless lobby, tripping on spilled popcorn, navigating around oxygen tanks, until the slant changed, and we were going downhill to find a tiny velvet seat, very, very low to the ground in rows that are not walker friendly. Did I mention we should have brought the wheelchair? Finally plopped DooDaddy in a Goldilocks-sized gilded seat and dashed back for water, on account of DooDaddy was choking on his dry Chick-fil-A sandwich. Then back again for napkins. Once more for popcorn.

The Mighty Wurlitzer fired up with a “Musical Tour Across The Country.” Then finally we got to the really good stuff. Let me just say Mark Fox was brilliant. Brought tears to my eyes. My heart was in my throat. Enthralling. Magical. Worth it all. The voice of an archangel, the breath control of a master yogi.

As I listened to show tunes, spirituals and opera, over the slow purr of a nearby oxygen tank and the peaceful snoring of dozing geezers, all I could think about was how the hell I was gonna get DooDaddy outta there without mishap. While Mark sang, I plotted our escape.

I had hoped to bustle DooDaddy out ahead of le déluge, so I dashed to retrieve his walker, thinking I had “The Tennessee Waltz” disappearing-organ routine still to go, but they let school out early, and it was a geezer free-for-all. They were plodding but relentless in their desire to get back to their routines, now that the fun was over. It was a mass exodus, a slow-moving, melting glacier of white walkers making their way to the convoy of ‪geezer vans parked out front.

I safely steered DooDaddy through the throngs down the slick-as-glass, slanting lobby floor, spilling my own popcorn in the process, frantically scanning for a chair to park him in while I went for the car. Did I mention we SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT A WHEELCHAIR?!?

Chairs are priceless in these situations. I finally appropriated one from behind a table of handouts and hefted it over my head like I’d won Wimbledon (I did not, however, kiss it). Put DooDaddy in it. Left him to wave and greet and yuk it up with everyone on the way out. He was clam-like in his happiness.

As I burst into the sunshine, what to my wondering eyes should appear but Ashley, the benevolent and buxom activities coordinator from Shannondale. Our ‪geezer van had a prime spot. I zigged and zagged my way back against the steady stream of humanity to tell DooDaddy the good news. Dragged him back outside to board what felt like the last chopper out of Saigon, only to find out the so-called geezer van had no lift, just five very steep, jagged metal steps. What the hell? DooDaddy stared at those stairs, and they stared right back at him baring their snarling corrugated teeth. He decided he just couldn’t do it. And who could blame him?

So I propped him up against the wall in the middle of the frenetic bus boardings and ran down the street to fetch Joan Jetta. Miracle of miracles a space had manifested right on the curb by the time I got back. And DooDaddy was with two friends from First Church (bless you Mert and Ashley) who helped him down the cliff-like curb to the car. And we were safely homeward bound.

We arrived to find Gmamma napping in her chair like a contented cat. She never even considered making The Incredible Journey. Why, the very idea! “Mighty Musical Monday is for the birds,” she said. Sometimes Gmamma knows best.


Photo credit to Diana Fox, sister of Mark Fox and daughter of Miss Peggy, now deceased.