We Have Both Kinds, Country and Western

Yesterday, Bill and I had big plans to drive north to Fort Collins to help my sister Jen celebrate her birthday. Bill and B.J. tentatively planned on playing golf. Jen and I tentatively planned on going downtown and toasting her birthday with a glass of wine on a scenic patio. I made a baked ziti casserole in advance, and planned on baking a pie in the morning before we left.

Except we didn’t leave because Jen celebrated her birthday by getting sick.

So, Bill and I had a day with not a single plan looming ahead of us. Thinking of our day that way is funny because we are both retired, and the truth of the matter is that most days we have no plans. Still, this absence of plans was unexpected.

“How about a movie?” I asked him. He quickly agreed. We had both been interested in seeing Respect, the biopic about the life of Aretha Franklin as portrayed by Jennifer Hudson. So I got online and got two tickets to a nearby theater with a 1:10 showing.

As an aside, I always buy my movie tickets in advance as 100 percent of the time I am certain that unless I buy the tickets ahead, there will be no tickets left when we arrive at the theater. It’s worth the $3.95 service charge. I’m certain of this because it happened to me one time about seven years ago. As it turns out (and as it turns out 99.2 percent of the time), the theater was empty except for four or five other retired folks. You never know. Aretha Franklin could draw them in like a Grateful Dead concert.

The movie was good, though I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who doesn’t like Aretha Franklin, or soul music in general. While I’m not a huge Aretha fan, I love music, and I love my husband. He, in turn, loves both Aretha and soul music. I think he also loves me. So we both enjoyed the movie. Jennifer Hudson was amazing in her portrayal. She sounded exactly like Aretha. As is the case, it seems, for most famous musicians, Aretha’s life wasn’t a bed of roses.

Bill and I went out for sushi afterwards. I feel compelled to add that sushi was Bill’s choice. When people ask me if Bill likes sushi, I always respond that he likes it fine, but he would never choose it. To my surprise, we walked right past Bad Daddy’s Burgers to go to Hapa Sushi at his suggestion. Even after 29 years of marriage, the man can still surprise me.

He was very animated about the movie, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He made a point of telling me that, though the movie was two-and-a-half hours long, he never got restless or bored. And it’s true. Every time I would glance over at him, he was wide awake and tapping his toes to the music.

“That was the music of my era,” he told me. “I know all her songs.”

When we got home, his excitement wasn’t over, because Aretha made him think of The Blues Brothers, which is his favorite movie by far, and the real Aretha Franklin has a role. He likes the Chicago setting; he likes the amusing storyline; he loves the music. He sings along.

I don’t believe I have ever sat down and watched the entire movie with him. Maybe once a long time ago. What I didn’t realize — or at least remember — is that many of the funny things Bill says come straight out of the movie. When I’m listening to my country music, he is liable to say, “You enjoy both kinds of music, country and western.” Straight out of the movie. And anyone who knows Bill has heard him say, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.” Again, words straight out of Elwood Blue’s mouth.

It ended up being a fun day.

By the way, when I talked to Jen yesterday morning, I would have bet my bottom dollar that she had COVID. She sent me a text yesterday evening telling me that preliminary test results indicate no COVID. They will test again two more times, but it’s looking like she just has a bad cold.

Not that that’s good.

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