Pretty and I began Christmas Day with a musical comedy called The Prom that started streaming on Netflix in December with a cast that featured three of our film favorites, Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington and Nicole Kidman. The movie got mixed reviews from the critics (whoever they might be) but came highly recommended to us by several friends as a must see. Even though I knew nothing about it, my feeling was any movie with Meryl is a must see.
Spoiler alert: The movie was about a high school girl in a small town in Indiana who wasn’t allowed to come to her prom because she wanted to bring another girl as her date. The plot sang and danced its way from one twist to another turn, from the longing of young lesbian love to the more political issues of inclusion and discrimination. Lavish musical production numbers, intimate dialogue among the key characters, Kerry Washington as a mother with a penchant for control that rivaled Olivia Pope in Scandal, Nicole Kidman with legs that went on forever, a musical Meryl having fun in the spirit of her Mama Mia movie in 2008. Director Ryan Murphy combined a variety of love stories set to music sung and danced to by a cast of talented performers that also featured James Corden, Keegan-Michael Key and Jo Ellen Pellman as the teenage lesbian heroine. Pretty and I were thoroughly entertained.
What struck me as I watched from the comfort of my recliner, however, was the message of the movie. In 2020 teenage lesbians coming of age in outgoing VP Pence’s home state of Indiana weren’t intrinsically bad kids. They were legitimate heroines; their love could be celebrated, not condemned. What a difference sixty years make. I shed more than a few tears mixed with laughter as I relived the emotions of my teenage yearnings for the “love that dared not speak its name.” Going to a prom with another girl in West Columbia, Texas in 1964 was as unimaginable for me as becoming Vice President of the United States.
Christmas night Pretty and I settled in for another musical comedy on Netflix: White Christmas starring Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney (George Clooney’s aunt on his daddy’s side), Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen, another dancer whose legs went on forever. This classic was made in 1954 when I was 8 years old and while I have no memory of seeing it that Christmas, I do remember watching several times when it was replayed on television over the next six decades. I had, of course, forgotten almost everything about White Christmas except the song “Sisters,” a dance routine Clooney and a dubbed Vera-Ellen sang in costumes Beyonce and Tina Turner must have worn at some point in their careers. Did I mention Vera-Ellen’s legs went on forever? Well, Pretty was more impressed with her tiny waist which was practically nonexistent.
The amazing costumes for White Christmas were created by Edith Head, one of Hollywood’s most prestigious costume designers who won eight Oscars during her career but not one for this technicolor film. No, the only Oscar for the movie went to Irving Berlin for the title song which is purportedly the largest selling single record of all time if you can trust Guinness World Records that places sales at more than 50 million copies. Pretty came up with the interesting research that Bing Crosby had recorded the song years before the 1954 movie was made – that’s Pretty for you, and she’s always right. Crosby introduced “White Christmas” for the first time on Christmas Day on his radio show in 1941, days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Pretty and I spent Christmas day with our dogs, our gas logs and Netflix movies. This year we had no travel plans, no holiday get together with friends; but we had enough memories of our past twenty years together to make the day as special as our first Christmas. We had Mexican food leftovers purchased the day before at our favorite go-to small restaurant near our home. Life is better with salsa.
The pandemic of 2020 changed not only our lives but also the lives of everyone on the planet forever. On Christmas Eve we opened gifts at the home of our son and daughter-in-law to share the joy of our granddaughter Ella James who at age 1 was more interested in opening the packages than what was inside. It was a memory maker, as my mother used to say.
Stay safe, stay sane and please stay tuned as we face 2021 together. Pretty and I wish better days for all our friends in cyberspace in the New Year.