Finally it’s coming to an end, two years of speculation, more than what’s been written about the future of American higher education, the American novel, and the planet Earth combined, thanks to that long angular face with the sharp Puritan nose and the stone jaw, a man famous for his silence, and why is the name pronounced MULL-er and not MYOO-ler like all the Muellers I know — what’s going on here? Why the secrecy?
Russian subversion is not high on my list of problems. Winter was. I’m 76 and my wife worries about me slipping on an icy sidewalk and banging my head and losing some crucial memory capacity such as my encyclopedic knowledge of the great girl groups of the Fifties, the Chiffons, the Chenilles, the Chinchillas, Chandeliers, and Chardonnays, or my memory of her name, which begins with a J and rhymes with “antennae.” But now April is at the door and the ice, as George Harrison said, is slowly melting and the Miller Report is finished and Russian confusion is their problem, not ours.
My computer has driven me to the brink several times with senseless icons and pop-ups (“You have been selected to take part in a survey”) and then the other day the screen went to black for no reason and it was unresponsive and I contemplated Applecide by ball-peen hammer.
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. He’s not even the most interesting crook — Nixon was, by far — meanwhile the golden soprano whispers to us, and the Gilda (Nadine Sierra of Fort Lauderdale) and her dad (Roberto Frontali of Rome) sing their hearts out about their love for each other — he sings, “You are my life! Without you, I have nothing” (Mia vita sei! Senza te in terra qual bene avrei?) and we fathers of daughters get choked up, and the twenty hoofers lavish on us the happy rhythms of 1938 when the world was about to fall apart. And then there was Saturday night with Leni, but wild horses couldn’t, etcetera and so forth. Never mind.
Anger is justified when you see an utter fraud in the White House, a dull, dishonest, indifferent man with the manner of a Mafia don, but anger is toxic and in the political arena it so often takes a bad bounce. Spring is here, or almost here, and Mary Oliver’s poetry and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony are probably somewhere in your computer and you will learn things from them that the Special Counsel can’t tell you. “Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves,” said Mary Oliver. A day without euphoria is a wasted day, so find it and love it. A man is tweeting on his phone and primping his hairdo while at the wheel of our national government careening down the highway. Let’s get off at the next exit.