Wednesday night Cyndi and I went to the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center, the coolest addition to Midland and Odessa in ten years, to see the traveling Broadway production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It was excellent. The cast was perfect, the singing was spot-on, and the sound and production were exactly right. We loved it. I remember watching the animated movie many times back in the 1990s, on VHS, so I knew the story and the songs. But I was completely surprised at my own reaction during the second act, when Belle and Beast were dining and dancing and Mrs. Potts sang:
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
I had huge big-boy tears rolling down my cheeks. I didn’t see that coming at all. I mean, I was thoroughly enjoying the play and pulled in by the performances, but I never expected to cry through the signature love song.
Maybe my reaction was due to the influence of industrial-grade antihistamines I’d been taking all week to fight off a cold; or maybe I’ve become a big softy as I get older; or maybe I really am a hopeless romantic, surprising for a degreed engineer; or maybe I haven’t been able to stop crying since Walk 135 in 1998; or maybe, even after thirty-five years of marriage, I still can’t believe the girl sitting next to me holding my hand fell for me so long ago and keeps falling for me time after time, year after year.
Besides all that, one of the coolest parts of the evening was how many young girls came to the performance wearing their yellow Belle princess dresses. I counted at least a dozen, but I’m sure there were twice that many. Being a bit out-of-touch, I wasn’t expecting to see that. Cyndi said, “Of course they wore their dresses.”
I asked, “Was that the little girl’s idea or their mom’s idea?”
Cyndi said, “It was the little girl’s idea, and their mom was cool enough to let them do it.”
Cyndi told me that our 4-1/2-year-old granddaughter, Madden, wanted to wear her red Santa dress to school and her mom let her do it. Why not? The little girl wanted to be beautiful. Cyndi said, “We all want to live the fairy tale.”
I said, “You’re right, we all do. Even adults. We’ve just outgrown the costumes.”
Even men and boys long to live the fairy tale, but we call it living the adventure. We all want to live in the bigger story, be part of the grand tale, and have more than a provincial life. As we get older we wear our princess dresses and warrior’s armor on the inside where only we can see it since it would be too embarrassing to wear on the outside and reveal our heart’s desire.
Thursday morning as Cyndi and I were getting ready for the day and talking about the play, I told her about crying through the love song. I brought it up while she was in the next room in case I started crying again telling the story. I said, “In the past five years, I’ve heard a lot of guys tell their life story, and all of them think they got lucky in marriage. Just like The Beast, they can’t believe this beautiful woman fell for them.”
Cyndi repeated what I’ve heard her say many times, “The best marriages happen when both people are convinced they are the lucky one.”
She was right about that. Except, in our case, in our marriage, I am certain that I’m the lucky one. Maybe that’s why I cry through love songs.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32