I saw Jersey Boys the first time in San Francisco. There on a writing retreat, alone, I walked up one evening and got last minute tickets relinquished by family/friends. There’s really no current theatre that so reflects Boomer history than the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and no Boomer who loves oldies more than my husband, so it was with great pleasure that I took him to see it in London for his 65th birthday. I didn’t expect it to be such a moving experience.
Let me make clear: We are not from New Jersey. It’s true that sister-in-love and her kin are from NJ and have welcomed me into their circle of sisters, so you might say I’m an adopted New Jerseyan. Same with my longest-time California friend.
But M and I? We’re from Rochester, NY. Different state. Different accent.
Also, the Four Seasons are more than a decade older than we are. Still, their music was a big part of the soundtrack to our youth. So, from the first familiar chords of Silhouettes to the last notes of Who Loves You, we were both transported back to the 1960s and our childhoods, and stayed there for the entire performance.
And as I immersed myself in the play, I was reminded of how much M and I had in common with the Four Seasons.
First, like the Jersey Boys, we’re also of Sicilian descent and that culture permeated every bit of our childhoods, from the food to the music to the people. We hang out with a few people with whom we share our culture, but for the most part, we live in an Anglo world. Or not– M. was the first non-Jewish partner in a venerable, 100+ year old Jewish Wall St. law firm. So, as we often say, our lives were led mostly around white people. Yes, black friends, we Sicilian-Americans call people not of our culture “white people.” You’ll just have to roll with it.
The Mob was more than a bit player in the Jersey Boys story, and it was more than a bit player in our lives. I’ve blogged before HERE about being raised around the Mafia, and M. had the same experience. His father owned a chain of lumber stores that wasn’t a Teamster shop in Mob-controlled Rochester, NY, but still, was never targeted. Why do you think that was? M. sometimes asks, rhetorically. And, it’s better that we don’t talk about his grandfather.
After M and I divorced in 1981, I never dated another man of Italian descent. Just wasn’t interested. So I never thought I’d enjoy shared cultural references with a husband or partner.
I was wrong.
So many times during the play M and I would look at each other and smile, knowingly, at a culturally familiar incident or scene. I never thought I’d have that kind of connection again.
Today is our anniversary. We’ve been married either 41 years, 12 years or four years, depending on how you look at it.
On this date in 1972, we walked down the aisle without a clue about marriage. I wasn’t even 21 year old. He was just 24. It lasted eight years.
On this date in 2009, we remarried, with a far better idea of what marriage takes. And that’s where we are today.
Interested in how we got back together? No, not Facebook or a reunion. Different. HERE’S a post I wrote in 2009 that tells the basic story, but of course, a memoir’s in progress.
That couple in the Godfather-esque wedding photo above had no idea how life would unfold for them. But aren’t the good surprises in life what makes it so rich?
Happy anniversary, Michael. Thanks for giving me the most surprising, amazing life ever. (And, who ARE those kids in the photo above?)