Hail, hail, the gang’s all here

So much better

So much better

The gang shows up in the middle (in fact, it first appears in the overture) of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. If anyone ever asks you what tunes Arthur Sullivan is noted for, two obvious examples leap to mind, “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” and “Hail, Hail the Gang’s All Here!” (If the person asking is very sophisticated, you might also mention “Tit-Willow.”) I’ve wondered since the first time I heard Penzance if “Hail, Hail” wasn’t some old British “public” school song Sullivan snitched. But it’s not. He wrote the tune. The words we all know were attached to it in 1917 and published as a popular song in America. But it’s Sullivan’s tune.

Why would anyone ask you what tunes Arthur Sullivan is noted for, you might ask. Who knows? It’s simply what was on my mind when I woke up this morning. I looked it up when Jerome—who has been in a production of Pirates and loves G&S—and I returned to his place after seeing Pirates yesterday. I’m fond of G&S, too. When the short-lived Dallas G&S Society began, a good friend hounded me to get involved, and I would have if I hadn’t had two jobs at the time. It’s a shame the Society didn’t thrive—a city the size of Dallas needs such a group.

Well, now, that sounds pretty much like a letter to the editor. It’s not. It’s a way into what I want to say.

Yesterday Jerome and I celebrated our anniversary. The earliest e-mail to him I have saved in my webmail is from March 2, 2012. One year. We saw the University of North Texas Opera Theater production of Pirates. Then we went to an elegant dinner (there’s no other kind to be had there) at our favorite Mideastern restaurant, Babouch. Then we came home (to his apartment), watched a bit of TV that he had recorded (the Graham Martin show, with Richard Gere—whom we had seen in Arbitrage the night before, courtesy of Netflix), and went to bed.

“Me, senescent.” Me, growing older. That’s what this blog is about, or so it says at the top. And that’s true. Growing older, I’ve come to believe, is OK.

Two old guys acting (dare I say it?) like an old married couple—except, of course, that we don’t actually live together. Two old guys knowing the limits of being set in their ways. It’s fairly obvious I shouldn’t say “two” old guys. I should say an old guy and his inamorato. He’s seven years younger. A young guy.

Tosh (and Jerome)

Tosh (and Jerome)

Here’s the thing about “Hail, Hail the Gang’s All Here,” Babouch, an anniversary, and me, senescent. I probably would not have dragged myself to Denton to see Pirates, and I wouldn’t even have known Babouch existed were it not for Jerome. And that’s sort of what happens when you start getting older (my right hip feels like I’m just plain old sometimes) and you decide being happy is meant more for old guys than for young guys (this applies to gals, too, but someone else will have to write that one). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. We have things backwards in our collective mind.

Life, liberty, and happiness are not meant for young folks. They’re meant for old folks. I can see clearly now.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

I wouldn’t say with Johnny Nash that all the pain is gone and all the obstacles have gone away, but I see clearly now that, even with aches and pains and curmudgeonliness, and all the other things we have  been warned to believe are the evils of old age, life is for us old folks.

“Hail, Hail, the gang’s all here.” The old guys have it. We know about the gang. We’re all here. And I don’t really give a damn how silly or sentimental you think this is. When you’ve been through what we’ve been through and hung on and come out the other side of youth, you’ll understand that even John Boehner and his megalomaniac sequestration don’t matter.

Difficult as it is for two old guys who’ve been practicing their idiosyncrasies for sixty years to match up their quirks, it’s possible. And that difficulty makes the end result much more important—at least that’s my experience. I’m not going to get any sappier than that. You’ll just have to trust me on this one. Do you have any idea how much more handsome Richard Gere is now than he was in An Officer and a Gentleman?

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