#190 – The Headliner

Word to the wise. If you’re going to make fun of old people, don’t bring the evidence to a nursing home … where it might be discovered … and your welcome might run thin. That’s the motto I’ve adopted in light of this morning’s accident.

After the poor reception Atlas Shrugged and I received at a nursing home’s reading program, I’d assumed the residents averse to any further sight or sound of me. But I apparently underestimated the dearth of entertainment available there. When the facility’s Director called me a couple of weeks ago, she said the residents had voted to give me a second chance. She added: “If you’re willing, they’re happy to listen; though I suggest you pick a shorter novel this time.” I agreed.

I decided to go with Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Not only is it a hell of a lot shorter than Atlas Shrugged, but as I figured, everyone there’d be familiar with it and recall it nostalgically. Frankly, some of my shriveled listeners looked old enough to have known the author – a bonus in my view!

This morning, I read chapter one aloud. The audience clearly appreciated my selection, as I’d hoped. They went so far as to give me a round of applause. But that was before one of them discovered the “article” I accidentally dropped on the floor.

When I’m bored, I occasionally amuse myself by drafting fake news articles to pair with actual headlines. This morning I was bored. I’d run errands and had time to kill before the scheduled reading hour. Rather than drive home and return, I decided to peruse yesterday’s Atlanta Journal Constitution in the seniors’ parking lot. One of the headlines in the “Metro” section caught my eye, and I decided to write my own amusing version of its accompanying story. Though I’m not sure exactly how it happened, I unthinkingly slipped the completed scrap of paper into my copy of Tom Sawyer.

I’d thought only residents incapable of reading participated in the literature program. But when my “article” fell to the facility’s floor, the document was retrieved by a codger whose peepers obviously functioned satisfactorily. His lung capacity appeared in equal working order, as he demonstrated while interrupting the audience’s applause to notify his peers: “Quit your clapping! You want to hear what ‘Mr. Twain’ thinks of us? Well, here’s the headline from a story I saw in today’s paper: ‘Ground broken for new seniors community.’  And this is what the wise guy here wrote beneath the headline in place of the real article:

The Happy Valley Cemetery is once again accepting new customers. The first new graves in five years were dug yesterday in acreage recently purchased by the facility… 

Judging by the ensuing boos, I expect another vote to be taken; and lack of entertainment or not, I’d be shocked to hear anyone requesting my presence for a reading of chapter two.

The new seniors’ community?

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