The joy of just being … happy

I don’t go to movies a lot.

It’s not that I dislike them, but unless it’s a James Bond movie — apparently “No Time To Die” comes out Oct. 8 — there aren’t a lot of movies that jump out at me as ones I want to see, so I just don’t go very much.

If there’s a movie Suzi wants to see, I’ll go, and I usually enjoy myself, but the last movie she saw before going to the movies stopped being a thing people did was “Emma” on a Tuesday night when I was in a photography class.

We tried to figure out the last time I had seen a movie in a theater — as opposed to an NT Live play streamed from London — and the best we could come up with was maybe “Rocketman”?

But when Suzi said she wanted to see “In The Heights” in the theater, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

Truth be told, I probably would have been interested in seeing “In The Heights” under normal circumstances. After all, it was based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first musical, which did OK for itself, and his second has done just a bit better than OK.

But it was … going out to a movie. The big screen. The big sounds. The popcorn (Suzi’s) and peanut M&M’s (mine). The leaving the house to do something.

Like the first baseball game or the first trip to the gym, the movie theater was not exactly as we left it.

The staff wore masks in an empty-looking lobby, and I’m pretty sure most showings of expected summer blockbusters early on a Saturday afternoon draw more than roughly a dozen people.

And once the movie was over, a crew was waiting to descend on the theater to give it a thorough cleaning.

But the movie … the movie was fantastic.

The singing and dancing — and if you’ve seen or listened to “Hamilton,” you’ll recognize a lot of similarity in style, plus one Easter egg I won’t spoil here, but it doesn’t last long and you have to listen carefully — were superb, and even though by the end the story does most of what you’d expect and hope for it to do, there were still moments where in my mind I was imploring the characters to just … do .. the thing and not be stupid.

I’m sure you’ve done it before when you’re watching something.

And there was one word that kept poking through.


The joy in the movie, of course, but also the unexpected sensation of how going to a movie would actually feel. Unexpected because although I like movies perfectly fine, there’s nothing I like more than baseball games, but going to one for the first time in nearly two years felt oddly “normal.”

The only thing I can think of is that going to a game or going to the gym still had remnants of being in the world as it exists, but once the lights went off, all that existed was what was on the screen.

Which I’m guessing is what the movies have always tried to do.

And now that I’ve delivered an advertisement for the motion-picture business that normally takes 20 minutes at the start of every Oscar broadcast, we move on.

Based on the number we saw along the trail (and the one that finally arrived on our lawn that morning), the rabbits have returned to town like the swallows to San Juan Capistrano. Suzi and I watched the rabbits as we enjoyed the calm, peace and quiet of a pleasant Saturday evening.

It was cloudy and just about the end of a couple days of cloudy chilliness that does nothing but make you cranky when we went into the theater, but it was sunny and warm and beautiful when we came out around 2 1/2 hours later. (By the way, “In The Heights” is a long movie.)

Since we’re not that far from the longest day of the year, there was still plenty of sunlight after dinner, and since we still had plenty of energy, I was on board when Suzi suggested taking a walk.

We don’t have a regular Saturday stroll, so we headed down the hill to the walking trail closest to our house, parked in one of the couple spaces they had left — clearly we weren’t the only ones with this idea — and did our standard mile out and mile back.

Based on the number we saw along the trail (and the one that finally arrived on our lawn that morning), the rabbits have returned to town like the swallows to San Juan Capistrano. Suzi and I watched the rabbits as we walked and enjoyed the calm, peace and quiet of a pleasant Saturday evening.

“We were leaving the sounds of the traffic behind us, stepping into this church, and finally — finally — setting foot in this Rome, with its whispers and voices that only we could hear: welcome back.”

— “Back in Rome,” Jackie in Italy, io sto a casa.

It was about 11 p.m., Suzi was long in bed and I wasn’t really tired, but I was a touch bored, so I channel-surfed to see if there was something that could keep me entertained for at least a little longer before I headed to bed.

And that’s when I found it — the midst of what appeared to be a marathon of “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” on CNN.

Along with our other pandemic (and whatever you call this not-quite-post-pandemic period) viewing obsession, we discovered it mostly by accident.

Suzi complains that she can never find anything when I let her have the remote (I don’t purely fit the stereotype of guys and the remote control, but there’s a little truth to it), but she discovered Michael Portillo during a channel-surf, and found Stanley Tucci the same way.

At first, we figured it would be a nice way to kill an hour on a Sunday night — a little food porn, a little Italian scenery porn, a little male-or-female-you-have-to-give-it-up-to-Stanley-Tucci-for-his-good-looks-and-absurd-charm porn — but we were hooked almost immediately.

The bad news was that there were only six episodes, and while the good news is that there will be a second season, the less-good news is that it won’t be until next year.

I guess we’ll just have to wait for the third season of “Succession.”

I watched for a little bit before deciding it was late and I really should go to bed, but whenever the next season of Stanley’s Italian culinary adventures graces our screen, it’ll hopefully be a far different world than when we saw him last.

And it’ll be nice to see him again.

12 thoughts on “The joy of just being … happy

  1. I’m glad you had a good time seeing The Heights, I’m so excited to see it. I have HBO Max so I can see it at home. BUT will go to the theater to see Black Widow, I’ve been waiting for that film since Avengers Endgame. I too got addicted to Stanley Tucci’s CNN series, his charm alone could make up a series. The dude could read from an encyclopedia and I’d tune in to watch him do that, lol. I’m so glad they renewed it for a second season. Too bad it won’t come out until 2022.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Stanley Tucci but I still haven’t seen his Searching For Italy! Oddly enough, you can’t really find that show over here in Italy! (maybe on the CNN website?) I love what you wrote about the movies — I was just thinking the same exact thing today, as I drove passed the movie theater with all of its posters up: wow, a movie, at a movie theater. Wouldn’t that be something? Can’t wait to find that feeling of joy that you found! (although Rome for the weekend was pretty joyful! Thanks for the mention!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As far as seeing the show, maybe the CNN site (I don’t know how it works in Italy, if there’s an international version), or you could check YouTube to see if anyone uploaded full episodes.


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