When I first arrived in Las Cruces at the age of 80, I considered it a major transformation and probably the last big change I would make. Up to then, my life had been full. Professionally, I taught at California State University Los Angeles for 20 years; I wrote books, articles, and an award-winning column for the Los Angeles Times. On the personal side I had been a wife, mom, grandmother, widow, great-grandmother. I thought I had completed both cycles, but life had some surprises for me.
Instead of settling into the New Mexico lifestyle and relaxing, I felt restless and began exploring new avenues. Today, at 85, I am more community-involved than I ever was in Los Angeles.
I joined the Las Cruces Women’s Press Club; I volunteer weekly at the Institute of Historical Research Foundation; I am producing a program for the brand new Las Cruces Community Radio Station (KTAL), that I will write about in a future blog. I perform with the Las Cruces Ukes.
Best of all, I have found a new dear friend and playmate, Roxana Gillett. Together, we have been writing song parodies and presenting them to our ukulele group and elsewhere. We are having so much fun with this new venture, plotting and combining mutual interests and talents.
Here’s a partial sample of one of our parodies, sung to the tune of “All I Want For Christmas.”
All I want for Christmas is my young body back,
Memory intact, my belly flat.
And if I could only find my new false teeth,
Then I could wish you Merry Christmas.
It seems so long since I could walk
Without a pain in my tuchas
Gosh, oh gee, how happy I would be
If I didn’t have toe fungus.
Another one of our hit songs was set to the melody of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Our version is the irreverent topic of what to do about having cooties.
Did-ja know our beards are filled with dirt
Within these hairs cooties lurk?
But hygiene sucks, it doesn’t work, so sue us.
They sink their teeth into our scalps
Eat our flesh until we yelp
Give us some relief, some shampoo-yah.
Some shampoo-yah, Some shampoo-yah
Some shampoo-yah, Some shampoo-yah.
We couldn’t overlook Halloween, so we wrote a parody to the tune of the Addams Family theme song.
La Cruces Ukes are kooky. On Halloween, we’re spooky
We’re altogether ooky, ukulele family.
We play at business lunches, and walrus fishy brunches
Bring smiles to gloomy Gus-es, ukulele family.
This is a parody of “Whiskey You’re the Devil,” as part of a St. Patrick’s Day medley.
Ukulele you’re the divil, you’re leading me astray, taking up my social life and even my birthday.
The music from our strumming is spunkier than the tay, ukulele you’re the divil drunk or sober.
For Valentine’s Day, we parodied Dean Martin’s song “That’s Amore” changing it to “That’s Divorcé.
When the love leaves your heart and you’re a-falling apart
When you’ve run out of Prozac switched over to cognac
Cell phone rings, ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a ling
It’s your ex’s fiancée.
Heart skips a beat tippi-tippi-tay, tippy-tippy-tay
She’s sending a selfie.
She is flashing a ring that has way too much bling
He’s replaced you.
She’s a gold-digging ghoul, you have been such a fool
You hate her.
You throw down the phone, you feel so alone,
You start crying.
‘Scusa-me, but you see back in our home town,
Now we’re aiming for the Third Annual Las Cruces Ukulele Festival in May. This parody is sung to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun.” Here is the first verse:
There is a coop in Las Cruces, they call the Rockin’ Roost,
It’s been a place where chickens can hide, to keep from being fried.
Our mother was a frying hen, in sizzling oil she died.
Our father was a uke-strumming cock, it saved him from the pot.
So what am I going to be when I grow up?
WEIRD AL YANKOVICH… MOVE OVER!
Norine Dresser is a folklorist who is astonished that even at 85, more exciting times are possible (If only her body cooperates).