Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Last night I had a Stephen Sondheim moment

Because she said so, Tuesday is officially "Date Night" for L and me. This is fine, because as far as I am concerned Tuesdays have become a wasteland in the middle of the week. There's nothing good on tv, and there's nothing fun at the gym so I can go bounce around for a couple hours. Instead it's just a long evening of thinking about what I want to eat for dinner, and then settling for sub-par Bravo reality shows. Often I'll end up at the gym on the treadmill watching American Idol, which I guess is not as bad as it could be. But Tuesday night is definitely not worth writing home about, usually.

Cut to last night! For my birthday L got us tickets to see "Company" on Broadway. This is a Stephen Sondheim musical, originally from 1970, about a single man swirling among his married friends' good and bad and ambiguous relationships. It was very funny, and the sensibility of the whole thing was very modern and kind of chic. There wasn't really a traditional narrative; it was more like a suite of songs exploring married life and why you would or would not want to get involved. I thought they brought out some interesting observations about emotions from within the marital bond: gratitude, devotion, and affection; curiosity, nostalgia, and even regret. They depicted several marriages that were thankfully very different from my own.

Maybe the lack of a structured narrative freed me to really enjoy the show. Usually I resent musicals, where the repetition of a single line of a song can really retard the forward progress of the story, and thus delay the moment when I get to go to the bathroom and buy M&Ms. On the other hand, I found these songs completely absorbing and smart. Unexpected notes, sophisticated melodies, and brilliant patter in the lyrcis - plenty of internal rhymes, bawdy humor, and some heartfelt sincerity.

I couldn't believe how I was so into this show: was it the perfect storm of musical theatre for me? Take an otherwise lackluster Tuesday, look sharp, go see a musical about an institution you've been thinking about on a near-constant basis for lo these many months, hear some clever songs, laugh occasionally and nod knowingly at the vagaries of this crazy thing we call matrimony. Maybe that is how I got to the point where I was contemplating buying the cd of the cast recording. "Do I really want this?" I asked my wife. "Well, it's all in your range, so you know you'll sing it," she said, thus affirming why I wanted to marry her in the first place.

That's how I got here at this moment, sitting in the library before tackling my income tax assignment, listening to Stephen Sondheim on my ipod and wondering if I used "vagaries" properly. On this Wednesday afternoon I am looking back on yesterday as one of the best Tuesdays I've had in a long while.

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