The answer is no. You cannot overshare at the Assisted Living Christmas Party.
I sang songs, had a nice cup of hot cider, chatted with Lois before the gig, and then basically told them about my recent road trip to Chicago and how I embarrassed myself forever and for always at a moment when I was supposed to try and act cool and professional.
It didn’t work that way.
I told the Assisted Living folks, along with their families and the head of nursing who was helping pour ciders and coffees and cranberry punch about how I was glad they asked me back again this year because I remember really botching Jingle Bells last year and hoped to redeem myself. You see, last year I was feeling confident and bold and thought I knew all the words to “Jingle Bells” no problem until, halfway through the second verse, I got a tad bit lost, looked to the audience for a lifeline, no one was totally sure either and that’s how I killed a Christmas classic in 2017.
THIS YEAR I nailed it. Thanks, Songbook! Me and my trusty songbook and prepared set list really made for a better gig. So did the Candyland-themed decorations and hot cider so, some time after “I saw Three Ships” and before “Silent NIght” I decided to tell them about my deep appreciation for a certain songwriter, my decision to drive to Chicago for the show because that’s as close as he ever comes to my neck of the woods, what I would call “appropriate” online admiration for his work and then the subsequent real life interaction that had me walking into the cold Chicago night air with a huge neon sign flashing over my head reading, “SHE IS A TOTAL LOSER.”
Yes, I told the residents about drinking a shot of whiskey and a PBR tallboy at the bar after the set. Yes, I told Bob and Bob’s grandddaughter (who was holding Bob’s tiny 5 week old great-granddaughter in her arms) about hoping to get out of the venue unseen and then how that didn’t happen and, instead, I told Lois and everyone else there about meeting this incredible songwriter, about not knowing what to say and having my previous internet admiration make me feel like a grade ‘A’ fool (for you guys I’d say “asshole”, but I’d never say that to them, my elders).
So there I was, standing with my guitar in the middle of the Lollipop Woods decorated Rec. room, trying to explain how I wanted to be cool but just wasn’t.
About how I drove home the next day shaking my head not knowing whether it was funny or humiliating or both when one of your heroes (who you’d hoped might be a colleague) remembers you commenting on internet stuff so much that he says, “Are you Hope?”. And then I sang “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” and we had a good laugh about the miraculous nature of Sunday School Christmas Eve programs.
It was actually a really good gig. I loved it. And at the end, Judy, the Social Coordinator who booked me, said they all agreed I was cool and that made me feel as warm and cozy and the well-heated room.
So dear friends, I’m a doughy semi-sad midwestern mother of three in a tea length skirt who sometimes wears makeup but mostly not. As much as I’d like to be that cool songwriter in a dark bar who doesn’t give a shit and where it’s SRO and everyone is wearing black, that’ll never match up with what I’ve been called up to do. I promise to not be an idiot on the internet (but no I don’t) anymore and if my best effort at punk rock is writing songs about it and oversharing at the Assisted Living Christmas party gig, then so be it.
Go be amazing. Screw up royally like me and tell your friends about it, write songs about it and then go do it again. I love you.