Holding to the Oldies

I had to call my mother’s AARP health insurance company this morning to find out what the deductible was on her medicare supplement plan. 

Several months ago I’d tried to talk about her plan over the phone with them and was told she would have to submit a written form designating me as someone who could be trusted to act in her behalf. 

(The whole purpose behind that call was to see if they’d received the check I’d sent them after I found out my mother hadn’t paid her premiums for the last two months and was in danger of having her insurance terminated.  I don’t know what a person would do if their parent wasn’t lucid enough to fill out that form—forgery, perhaps?  Appearing in person at their corporate offices dressed up as Mrs. Doubtfire maybe?)

Anyway, I got into their system and proceeded through the automated menu with the help of the nice disembodied female voice on the other end of the line.  She had the soft, reassuring tones of Miss Nancy on the old t.v. show “Romper Room.”  All I needed was some graham crackers and milk and I was back in the 1950’s again.

After jumping through the automated hoops I was finally going to be turned over to a living breathing agent.  But first I had to be on hold for awhile.  Now, some businesses have really annoying “music to hold by.”  Often I’ve had to put the phone out at arm’s length to keep from being deafened before the end of the call.

This time it was different.  For a company primarily dedicated to older folks, their music wasn’t very loud at all.  Go figure.  And the tune I was listening to also took me back to the 1950’s. 

It was Perry Como singing “Papa Loves Mambo,” kind of the quintessential fifties song—slightly silly lyrics with a bit of sexual innuendo thrown in for good measure.  I liked it. 

Perry Como recorded it on August 31, 1954; it was released in September, and charted on October 4, eventually peaking at number four, spending eighteen weeks on the charts. It was Perry’s 98th hit.

So here it is for you to enjoy.  I’m sure when we baby boomers get a little further along in age and find ourselves put on hold when calling AARP, we’ll be listening to the music from our youth too. 

Only with our luck, it’ll be The Captain and Tennille singing “Muskrat Love.”

Papa loves mambo
Mama loves mambo
Look at ’em sway with it
Gettin’ so gay with it
Shoutin’ “olay” with it, wow (huh)

Papa loves mambo
(Papa loves mambo)
Mama loves mambo
(Mama loves mambo)
Papa does great with it
Swings like a gate with it
He loses weight with it, now

He goes to, she goes fro
He goes fast, she goes slow
He goes left ‘n’ she goes right

(Papa’s lookin’ for Mama)
(But mama is nowhere in sight) (huh)

Papa loves mambo
Mama loves mambo
Havin’ their fling again
Younger than spring again
Feelin’ that zing again, wow (huh)

Papa loves mambo
(Papa loves mambo)
Mama loves mambo
(Mama loves mambo)
Don’t let her rumba and don’t let her samba
‘Cause Papa loves Mama tonight (huh)

22 thoughts on “Holding to the Oldies

  1. Good one! A few years ago my mother in law had a fender bender and to be nice I called the insurance co to make the claim for her. They said she had to authorize me as a person to make a claim on her behalf “for privacy reasons.” Well, I already know about the claim, her insurance policy and I’m calling from her phone, but that wasn’t proof enough. So I asked, “What would happen if she had been killed in the accident? Or in a coma?” The person said, “Good question.” I felt like I’d just listened to Muskrat Love in it’s entirety (i.e., I wanted to bite my ears off).

    Anyway, I don’t know if it would have occurred to me if you hadn’t mentioned innuendo, but Papa Loves Mambo is downright dirty!!


  2. Oh those lyrics take me back – to a time when style was triumphant over substance. The very days often admired by our conservative friends. I was there. It was vapid – until Kennedy.


  3. I handle all of my aunt’s affairs now (the kind not requiring a sexual partner) and I have spent entire days sorting out health insurance, etc. And I always think, What do people do who don’t have anyone to do this for them? Note to Tom: Deceased people are capable of more than you might imagine. Zombies aside, I once had a deceased person purchase a property. But that’s a story that will never made it to the blog.


    • “What do people do who don’t have anyone to do this for them?”

      Good question! If left on her own, my mother would have no secondary health insurance (after conscientiously paying for it every month since 1987!!) and would owe a hefty penalty on her property taxes. And that’s just for starters. It’s scary to think what could happen to any of us if we were alone with no one to look out for our welfare.


  4. When I watched Romper Room, I think it was Miss Frances. But then, I’m older than you.

    Bend and stretch, reach for the sky…!

    We never missed the Perry Como Show. Didn’t Peggy Lee have the sexiest voice ever?!?!

    What happens to people who don’t have anyone to look out for them? They receive “invoices” from crackpot charities and they pay them like they think they’re supposed to. Then the charities sell their sucker list to other crackpot shysters and they receive any more phony bills the next month. Had a relative whose mailbox was quite literally filled each day with requests from charities that preyed on the elderly.


  5. Apparently there were many Romper Room “hostesses”, depending on what area of the country you lived in. Miss Frances actually pre-dated that show with her “Ding Dong School” program:

    “Dr. Frances Horwich was head of the Education Department at Roosevelt College in Chicago. The show ran from 12/22/1952 – 12/28/1956 and was syndicated on NBC. The opening sequence showed a hand ringing a bell. Producer Reinald Werrenrath’s three year old daughter gets credit for naming the school, Ding Dong.”

    I used to watch that one too—and also “Sheriff John’s Lunch Brigade” in the L.A. area. He played the “Red light/green light” game to get you to drink your milk. [On second thought, that may have been “Engineer Bill”…] No wonder we all now belong to the Clean Plate Club…

    My mother gets mail from questionable charities too and has been suckered into donating to one or two. Now I have her put her mail up on the dresser in her spare bedroom when she gets anything that isn’t a letter from a friend or relative so I can check it out first. It’s terrible the way people would prey on the elderly like that. Bastards…


  6. i’ve done battle with the phone/insurance people on behalf of my mother. sometimes it’s a game of 20 questions – “OK. Understand the privacy issues. Can you tell me if the account is paid? No? OK. What about any cancellation notices sent – she told me she got a notice she couldn’t understand, and asked me to help sort it out… what was that last notice?”


    lovin’ the Mambo. The song, too! 😉


  7. I love this song! By the way, here is a video of a grandpa singing this song to his grandson, which you might enjoy… 🙂


  8. I love that song! When we were growing up (I’m a generation behind you), all my parents listened to was the Oldies station in our town. Though… if was hold music… I think that would come close to ruining it. Good luck! Also, Congratulations! I just awarded you with the Versatile Blogger Award (it’s a fun little award passed around within the blogging community). Here’s the shortlink: http://wp.me/p1jBAi-ct Looking forward to reading your “fun facts!” –Melissa


  9. Thank you! “Papa Loves Mambo” did make the holding experience a little more bearable. That and the fact that I spoke with a real person fairly quickly. Now I’m wondering what other tunes they have on AARP’s music list…almost want to phone them again and see. ha ha

    (By the way, we share the same first name. I didn’t meet another Melissa until I was 30 years old. Now, they’re all over the place.)


    • That’s very true. And it turns out Perry Como was not only a great singer, but he was a pretty great guy as well.

      He was born Pierino Como to Italian immigrants and had his own barbershop at age 14 so he could help support his family. He never had voice lessons but was proficient at a number of musical instruments. He married his childhood sweetheart, Roselle, at age 17 and they remained married until her death in 1998 at the age of 84. Perry died in 2001 at the age of 89. He was a well-respected, humble man throughout his long singing career.


  10. According to my mom, as a toddler, I yelled “Creamy Como” whenever I heard his voice (born 1955).

    Now that I’m a well vintaged adult, I LOVE the “Mambo loves Mambo” line. Well, yes we do. My loving partner of very many years is the most adored pseudo-kid that Mom loves. Love is in the family that cares.


  11. We understand the aggravations trying to handle business for an older person. We had to jump through all kinds of hoops with Medicare and Medicaid for my wife’s mother.

    I remember Perry, and never realized that ‘Pappa Love Mambo’ had a suggestive component to it. But reading the lyrics, you’re right.


  12. Maybe it’s just me. 🙂 I think Perry would probably be mortified that we’re thinking that about his song. From what I read, he was very careful about not offending anybody that way in his t.v. shows. But I think during the 50’s even though they weren’t as blatant talking about sex as we are now, you can bet your bippy there was definitely an undercurrent of it running beneath the surface.


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