My dad called me one afternoon to tell me he had just finished watching “Same Time, Next Year.”
“Nice,” I replied.
“Same Time, Next Year” is one of my parents’ – and, consequently, my – favorite movies of all time. A 70’s classic starring Ellen Burstyn and Alan Alda, it’s about two people who meet at the same hotel once a year to have an affair. The dialogue (written by Neil Simon) is pristine, the acting superb, and the theme song, in all its cheesy, Johnny-Mathis glory, will rip your guts out.
“I don’t get it,” Dad said. “You’re watching this couple have an affair, but you’re rooting for them.”
“I know, it’s crazy.”
“I mean, they’re cheating, but you still want them to…It doesn’t make any logical sense…”
Just like that, my father was weeping.
He sniffled. “I just don’t understand it…”
I understood it. My father wasn’t crying for his guilty conscience; he was crying for my mother, with whom he had always watched this movie.
“Dad,” I said gently. “Emotions aren’t always easy to understand. Sometimes you feel things and you don’t know why.”
“It isn’t logical,” he insisted, his voice still thick with emotion.
“Nope. That’s why research on emotion is almost never quantitative; it’s qualitative. You can’t quantify how you feel.”
“Rea,” he said, “you sound like a scientist.”
Which is how I knew he understood.
“It’s okay, Dad,” I said.
“Thanks, Beez. Alan Alda is the best, isn’t he?”
“Everything good with the kids?”
“Okay. I’ll talk to you later.”