“What is the matter with you?” my daughter queries as I clear my throat and twist the phone a degree above my mouth and swallow.
“Nothing,” I say, but even I hear the break in those two syllables so that the word clings to the ear as if I had retained some of my southern ancestry dialect. “I mean, nothing really. It’s just that Prince is 52 today. And Tipper and Al Gore are getting divorced.”
There is silence from the other end, but I know we have not lost the connection. My daughter is just processing what I realize must be signs of “high alert — mom is reflecting.” Her iPhone is probably opening a new window as she sends her brother a “code red.”
“OK,” she says finally, “and that is important because. . .?”
“Well, Prince was always the pinnacle to me, the cutting edge of sensitivity and talent, the anti-star who was a star. You know I always wanted you to skate to ‘Raspberry Beret’”
“That was just so I could skate around and toss a pink sequined hat on the ice. The lyrics are a bit risqué for ice arenas and ten-year-olds.”
“But it would have been uplifting! And now at 52, Prince wearing purple velvet, driving a little red Corvette and talking about ‘U Got The Look’ is just a tad bit, well, dated and out of place. It’s like those people and tabloids who announce each year how old Elvis would be if he were alive. No one would want to see a bloated 80-year-old Elvis grinding his hips.”
“Mom, I know this is going to come as a shock to you, but generations have survived without Prince, and in fact your generation wasn’t ‘All Hail Purple Rain’.”
“Oh they were. Just like yours, there are naysayers now about the boy bands, but everyone knows the words to “Bye, Bye, Bye” and they sing along if no one is looking or in the car with them. And on top of that, the Gores — married 40 years and they are just quitting — retiring if you will — from their marriage. What kind of message does that send?”
“I don’t know. They are the frontrunners for going green so I guess this is just another form of recycling. They aren’t throwing each other out by having an affair; they are recognizing the value and offering it up for someone else.”
I inhale but find I have nothing to say — or perhaps too much to say.
“I mean, this isn’t like when we were at Nationals in Portland and you went into a funk because Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt broke up, is it?”
“No. Well, I guess this is like both ends of the spectrum. I mean, at one end you have this beautiful woman who has similar interests as her husband — acting — and doesn’t wear a vial of blood around her neck, and she still loses her husband to another woman. And on this end, a couple who have been together for 40 years, who are openly affectionate. . .it just makes you question how you can ever get it right.”
“And. . .what else? I sense there is something else.”
“And,” I breathed out a long sigh, “And Jaime Sale and David Pelletier have decided to divorce but they are still going to work together. The won Olympic Gold because they had the magic.”
“Ah. But they have a child, so it is good that they are able to work together professionally and establish a peaceful relationship and environment to co-raise their son.”
“That is good, but it is still a bit sad. Prince would have asked, ‘How can you just leave me standing alone in a world that’s so cold?’”
“Mom, you get so sentimental but please don’t quote anymore Prince songs. I guess your generation was raised on too many movies with happy endings.”
“We all want some happy endings.”
“You just don’t want the song to end. If you love it and if the costume is spectacular, you don’t want it to stop.”
“That’s not a bad thing.”
“No. No it isn’t. But if one thing doesn’t end — or change — how could you ever experience the next good thing? If Prince had stopped with that berry-colored beret, you would never have had an 8-track of ‘I Feel for You’.”
I give her that but suspect she is being a bit more cheeky than just tongue-in-cheek.
“And,” she continues, “I think there may another royal wedding in England soon, or that’s what the rumor is. And there are still plenty of happy and long marriages: Ron Howard and his wife, Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, Denzel and his wife Pauletta. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.”
I nod though she couldn’t see me.
“And don’t forget Jenny Meno and Todd Sands. They are still great on and off the ice.”
“That’s true. And I’m sure they must have skated to at least one Prince song in their career — if only for a show program.”