My wife, Ana, and I just had our 36th wedding anniversary. I celebrated it; she kinda' endured it. Thus it has always been. We've pretty much never been on the same page, going all the way back to when I met her in college.
She was a beauty queen, college Homecoming Queen, an absolute knockout. And I'm not just saying that because she's my wife. From the very beginning, people would look at her, look and me, then look at her again and they probably figured that I was holding her family hostage or something. When I was a boy, my sainted Italian mother once told me, "If you want girls to like you, you have to be good looking or have a good personality ... so you'd better get to work on that personality."
Gee thanks, Mom.
I was strictly Levis, T-shirt and a letterman's jacket, while she dressed as though she were in a fashion show every day. I was outgoing and gregarious; she was somewhat reserved. I figured that her looks probably kept some guys away, either figuring that she already had a boyfriend or that they were simply out of her league. (That part of my brain never fully formed; I have no such fears.) Her friend, Linda, told me that some guys were intimidated by Ana's intellect, as she was much smarter than almost everybody else. I told Ana that she wouldn't have to worry about that with me because there was no damn way that she was smarter than I.
(There's that personality that my Mom talked about.)
From the moment I met her, I was hit by that thunderbolt that they talked about in The Godfather when Michael met Apollonia. I kept my cool and told her that she had this really good-looking left eye. Later that week, I made a greeting card for her that read, "If I had a nickel for every time I thought about you ...
I'd think about you a lot more often."
The fact that I was captain of the basketball team meant absolutely nothing to her, but I did have a couple things going for me. We would see each other at church. (Even then, the twain didn't meet completely as I'm just a Catholic while she's a CATHOLIC.) However, thanks to my Mom, I've always had impeccable manners and, thankfully, that counted for something. So it was that she agreed to go on a date with me.
Back in the day, Douglas, Arizona was a rather quiet place. If you were going on a date (and staying in the United States), there was the movie theater and there was the Pizza Hut. Half the town would take in the early show, then have a late dinner, while the other half would eat first and then go to the movie. I picked her up at her house and was informed that, since it was our first date, we would have to take her younger sister along as a chaperone. (Her mother, who is from Spain, actually out-flanked my Italian-born mother in the Olde School department.)
As I have mentioned before, we went to see Blazing Saddles. The movie came out in the Spring of 1974, but didn't get to Douglas until November. Written by Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor, I was at dead center of its target audience. I came close to seriously damaging myself from laughing so hard. Meanwhile, Ana sat there as though she were in a dentist's chair.
Ana had never actually met a black person before (she would eventually meet a lot of my basketball teammates) and she felt uncomfortable laughing at the blatantly racist and scatological humor.
With this being the 40th Anniversary of the film's release, Brooks has been doing some interviews. He says that, when writing the film, he told Pryor to just go for it since he (Brooks) felt that the film's theme (a black sheriff in a racist Old West town) was so scandalous, the studio probably wouldn't release it, anyway. Even so, there are some things that did get cut.
There's a scene in which, in a totally dark room, Madeline Kahn's character, Lili Von Shtupp, says, "I wonder if it's twoo what they say." We hear the sound of a zipper, and then she says, "Oh! It's twoo! It's twoo!"
As originally written, the rest of the scene had a pause and then Von Shtupp saying, in an almost bewildered voice, "Oh, it's really twoo," after which the sheriff, Bart, says, "Aw Baby, you're suckin' on my arm."
All things considered, I'm probably glad that that part got cut.
With the release of A Million Ways to Die in the West, (which is a very funny movie), references to Blazing Saddles are inevitable. But Million writer/director/star Seth MacFarlane goes out of his way to note that Saddles is alone at the top.
Brooks, who will turn 88 later this month, is actually rather testy about the film, which he (quite rightly) thinks should be considered the funniest movie of all time (certainly in the amount of laughter it elicits). The American Film Institute has it ranked sixth, behind (in order) Some Like It Hot, Tootsie, Dr. Strangelove, Annie Hall, and Duck Soup.
I demand a recount. My wife probably does, too, only in a different direction.