She’s going to sivilize me, and I can’t stand it

I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.

I am a challenge to my fiancée. She is the most cultured person on the planet. I don’t know anything about art, literature or music. Unlike Huck, I’m not going to light out for the Territory.


She took me to the opera the second time I visited her in New York. Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. I was hooked. Yes it’s silly. But it’s gorgeous.

She’s taken me to Don GiovanniMacbeth, Don CarloThe Death of Klinghoffer, Ernani and Otello.

Great stuff. I’ve loved every minute. Even when the guy next to me snores.


Which brings us to Friday night.

Game 3 of the World Series.

vs

Turandot.

I was prepared to be grumpy. I wasn’t prepared to be revolted.

Go read the synopsis. It beggars belief. The three main characters:

  • A prince, the son of a deposed king.
  • A servant to the deposed king, who loves the prince because he smiled at her once and has ignored her since.
  • A princess who murders her suitors for sport, reneges on her oaths and tortures the servant to death to get information that would let her murder the prince.

But it’s all OK, because the princess, after torturing the servant to death so that she can murder the prince, falls in love with the prince. Because he’s trying to rape her.

Really. I could not make this up.

Maybe this is just a story to hang music on. Maybe it’s the product of another time and place (even if that time and place is Fascist Italy). Maybe it’s really a man-hating-feminist, smash-the-patriarchy text. But it’s vile. And stupid.

Oh, you say, one must admire the music separate from the drama. But isn’t the point of opera music plus drama? (I deduce from synopses of La Boheme and Madama Butterfly that the coherence and plausibility – even the intelligence – of the drama were not priorities for Puccini.)

The production only makes it worse. It is colossal, garish, tasteless and overripe. I felt as Martin Luther is said to have felt when he saw the opulence of the church in Rome.

Then there’s the racism.

And for this I missed a World Series game?

Am I just an uncultured lout? Is there no hope for me?


Saturday night – Halloween – she doubled down by taking me to the Philharmonic.

I could be handing out tooth-rot to the kids in my building?

I could be watching the World Series? The penultimate game of the season?

What kind of a woman would do that to me?

I’ve listened to Beethoven’s Fifth on CD. Who hasn’t? But a live performance? Extraordinary!

Also on the agenda were Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23. The Mozart was lovely, but I loved the Britten.

Don’t tell her, but it was worth missing the kids and the game.

My heart leaps up: A sense of wonder

I don’t know much about literature. That’s my Love’s department – although she has gotten me hooked.

I didn’t take any literature courses in college. I had one high school literature course: Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, a novel by Dickens (which left so little impression on me that I don’t remember its plot or title) and some poetry.

I didn’t see the point of poetry, with one exception: My heart leaps up, by William Wordsworth. My Dad will recite it at the drop of a hat. It’s been a touchstone of my life.

Why?

When I was very small, Dad told me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

Whenever a meteor shower was predicted, Dad would take me out into the mountains, where the air would be clear and free of light pollution. We would lay on our backs and look up at the sky and watch the show. He’d tell me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

When I was small he showed me a video tape of Galloping Gertie. He told me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

Whenever a thunderstorm was predicted, he and I would sit out on the porch swing and watch it roll in over the mountains, the black line of clouds, the indistinct lightning in the clouds and beyond the mountains, the guttural rumble of distant thunder.

The smell, from afar off, of approaching rain in the high desert.

Then the flash of lightning nearby, the crack of thunder, the smell of ozone, the pummeling rain, pouring over the eaves on the far side of the porch.

He’d tell me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

The older I get, the more important that is to me, the more profound it seems to me. He doesn’t need to tell me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

It’s the one thing I want to pass on to my children.

Never lose your sense of wonder.


I’m in love for the first time at age 35. I’m glad I never lost my sense of wonder.

Thanks, Dad.