"Time stops, hearts are young, only serenades are sung in Loveland."
(The original production of Follies)
At a climactic point in the 1971 musical Follies, the two married couples who play the leading roles are arguing fiercely with each other and themselves. And then the stage itself erupts into a valentine, as the shouting protagonists are engulfed by a production number about "Loveland." It's a perfect metaphor for how disruptive, baffling, and insane love can be.
I was thrilled that I got see the rare revival of the show that opened in Washington, DC, last spring and continued to Broadway. It's the musical I love the most that I had never seen, and it demands star performers and a big budget. I sat in the second row of the Kennedy Center, watching Bernadette Peters, Linda Lavin, and Elaine Paige, with the man that I love, on my birthday. It was an experience I will never forget.
It ended, and tears were streaming down Max's face. When he could explain why, he told me that it was because he saw someone in the audience with an oxygen tank, and it reminded him of Norman, the man who was his partner in life for 28 years. Follies is about people who have wasted their lives because they could not manage to love both themselves and their spouses. That's not my Max.
"Loveland" is an extremely odd song with an odd history-- it was left off the original cast album, and it's been changed a great deal in various productions. I've been obsessed with it since I saw Follies last June. When Stephen Sondheim, the most original lyricist in the American theater, uses lines like "See that sunny sun and honeymoon/ Here, where 700 days hath June" he's being insipid for a reason. The melody begins even more simply, almost a variation on the "I've got a secret" Ur melody that seems to be the most basic human tune. And then it builds into something which is both glorious and absurd.
I don't know of many things that are a worse match than Valentine's Day and autism. The throbbing emotion, the baffling unsaid rules, the pointless frills, the crushing popularity contest. Not autism friendly.
But here we are again.
So let's think a little about love and autism. I'll be reposting some of my favorite love and romance pieces today and tomorrow, and adding some original things.
Brace yourself and fasten your seatbelt, or get out while you still can.
We're going to Loveland.