Spanning the Generations

I wore bell-bottoms and collected troll dolls; my mother had saddle shoes and jitterbugged. For most of my young life, I couldn’t see many areas where we overlapped. Then in my 20s I worked at a restaurant with live music on weekends. The lead vocalist was a crooner whose repertoire was mostly American classics and show tunes. I may have been young relative to the audience, but this was my mother’s music, the tunes she listened to on the radio when I was growing up, and as a consequence I knew every word. In fact, coworkers would joke that I could go on the television show, Name That Tune.

And so music became something I could share with my mother. She had come to appreciate some soft-rock hits of the day, but from time to time we would hear an oldie that would open a door for me to ask her those fun “where were you then” kinds of questions. (I couldn’t quite imagine Mom screaming and fainting with her friends over Frank Sinatra, but she claimed she did.) We both liked Tony Bennett and so I was really happy to surprise her with concert tickets when he came to a nearby theater. I don’t know which of us enjoyed it more.

When my girls were smaller, I would think of that evening and wonder if there would be a parallel for us. I believe there is: Julie Andrews. Of course the girls watched (and watched and watched, as kids do) Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. But to my utter delight, Julie Andrews got them, and their generation, anew as oh-so-credible Queen Clarisse of Genovia in the Princess Diaries movies. If you haven’t seen Ms. Andrews mattress surfing, you need to rent Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement. Gotta love a lady who does her own stunts at age 68! 

For as long as I can remember, I have loved Julie Andrews. I anguished over the botched surgery that took her wonderful singing voice in 1999 and was anxious over her return to the screen, relieved to find I could still enjoy this great actor in her new incarnation as a nonsinger. I hold nothing but fond, fond memories of times curled up in front of the television watching her movies, as a child and again with my children.

My skinny-jeaned teenage daughters find the choices I made at their age in wardrobe and toys weird and amusing, and I guess there will always be trends that will be enjoyed exclusively by just one generation. But Julie Andrews is a most precious, intergenerational gift that we can share.