This Sunday, as is my wont, a fond remembrance:
Many years ago, two folks were sharing an evening at the Hollywood Bowl; The musical play was “The Music Man”. However, that won’t be the point of this story, nor was this particular couple’s advanced age. The night was a package of goodies to behold this warm summer evening. The Hollywood Bowl, “The Music Man”, and an all-American Iowa story, dressed up in all its theatrical finery, revived with the music for yet another generation to enjoy. It was pure gold, thanks to Meredith Wilson, a lasting musical genius.
Most of us go to the Bowl for a slice of life, the way it’s supposed to be. A Los Angeles night on display, along with the music of the masters being performed by the cream of our cities most elite musicians. As a kid growing up in Los Angeles, there is always a good chance the Hollywood Bowl becomes a part of one’s lifestyle. That’s not to say it’s the part that gets to sit way up front like we do now. Then, my friends, and yours truly, were more than happy to sit up at the top in what was effectually referred to as the nosebleed section.
When the first swell of music comes up, the bowl fills with the poetic sounds which will last for a lifetime of memories. One day when magically you’re in a box seat at the Bowl, with good friends, the love of your life, and food that depicts sin, it’s tough not to have a grin a yard wide. Summing up this particular evening is a simple remembrance for me: from the street to a box at the Hollywood Bowl; who would have “thunk” it could happen.
“Glad To Be Alive Time”
It was “glad to be alive time” for me. I must have had my feelings written all over my face. People were smiling back at me. Unsolicited. Glancing around at the crowd is an enjoyment for me, especially in the pond, where anyone who has been in our business as long as we have is almost for sure going to run into a recognizable face or two.
Above the aisle and directly behind our box, an older, distinguished-looking couple, who were just finishing dinner were raising their wine glasses in an obvious toast to one another. Their joy was compelling. I marvel at the sight of two older people who have obviously been together forever. These two were special; glamorous, genuine, and some may think them a rarity. Hey, for me, they were cool. And as we prepared to see the show, my eye caught his. We both nodded and left it at that. The only other obvious commonality was that the man and I were both wearing a little pin of American flags attached to our jackets.
The show’s first half concluded to a thunderous ovation. All of us were on our feet, time to get some coffee. I turned, and as I moved out of our box and across the aisle behind us, I waved an approval thumbs up at the man, and he did a likewise move. I figured what the hell, I’m going to say something to the couple; just a word or two about what a great show we were being treated to and then be off quickly, down the ramp to get some coffee.
Approaching their box, I took notice the man was wearing an air force wings pinned to his chest above the American flag. “Were you in the Air Force?” I asked. He proudly proclaimed with his distinctly British accent he was a flyer in the American Air Force during World War II. “Were you a flyer?” he asked. I responded that I had served in the army, a few years after him, during the Korean Conflict. With that he stood up, straight and erect facing me, extending his hand into mine. Without another word we acknowledged mutual respect, bringing forth a knowing nod from his wife. Though we were separated by a few years in age, our handshake was that of fellow club members greeting one another. Without further conversation, we moved physically apart . As the second half commenced. I felt a single warm teardrop make its way slowly down the side of my cheek.
In retrospect, that man and I both knew it was a flip of a coin which allowed us to be members of the same club. To survive and be there at the Hollywood Bowl, for one more evening, enchanted by a time, a place, love, and the superlative music of the night. Two strangers from different places joined together by a bond of a mutual appreciation over how precious life is.
Somehow, the Music Man’s love songs had more meaning for me that evening. The hand of my own life’s partner was held closer to my heart than ever before. I wonder how many of my fellow club members allow the joy of similar feelings.
And lest we serve
What values will we embrace
For within our club
Of a man’s hand extended to another
A day for fear, shared and lived, and removed
With age which too quickly comes
A moments reprieve of a dream
For this beauty
We all must find
As we enjoy the music of this night!
HK, Monday, 5 August 2002