I am not an angry man. I have sometimes, when driving, spoken sharply to other drivers about their incredible stupidity, but mostly I’m a pleasant and mannerly passive-aggressive Midwesterner. I am tender and loving to my wife, Penny. I am 76 — did I already say that? — and I believe the cure for anger is euphoria. I don’t drink anymore and I never got high from reefer or cocaine and due to physical cowardice I never skied or dove from planes and so for euphoria I turn to the arts, mainly music.
I was in New York last week and got to hear Renée Fleming sing Richard Strauss at Carnegie Hall and see “Rigoletto” at the Met and attend a Rodgers & Hart revival, “I Married An Angel,” and all three had moments that threw me out of the plane and opened my parachute.
I was transported by Miss Fleming’s golden soprano, a passage in which she decrescendos to a whisper and the audience stops breathing and the hall is filled with a whisper, and the next night by the father-daughter duet of Rigoletto and Gilda and then, Friday night, live on stage, a fabulous tap dance number, twenty hoofers, ten dudes and their sweet patooties, tapping their hearts out, step step step shuffle scuffle slap and slide jump click clunk paradiddle paddle turn pullback and roll.
The audience went to pieces, it was so astonishing. Twenty dancers, in a line of work with 92 percent unemployment, had worked two weeks to create five minutes of anonymous synchronized perfection such as I, at 76, had never seen done onstage before and how can a man not be changed by that? I was.
Three transcendent moments in one week. To me, an old man, this is more meaningful than having a common crook in power ….