Yes. A date. Quality time together. Adult conversation. Good food. Good music. No "Hey Mom!" every two minutes. No one else but a dog and a cat in bed.
It was much needed.
For The Hermit's birthday I had bought tickets to a John Prine concert in Duluth. Although we're huge Prine fans and have seen him several times, I knew The Hermit was equally excited about the opening act, Pieta Brown with Bo Ramsey.
The kids spent the night at their friends' house, friends they don't get to see too often. They live on a small farm about 25 miles away; we buy all our pork from them. The only child who even took time to say goodbye was Mr. Attitude.
From there we traveled up Highway 61 to the town of Cloquet, about fifteen miles west of Duluth. We had heard from the older kids that there was a new Mexican restaurant in town and it was pretty good, so instead of going to a touristy place on Duluth's waterfront and enduring long lines, we decided to give it a try. In a word, it was excellent. Fast, courteous service, good margaritas, and the best Mexican food I have had, anywhere, for a long time. The Hermit and I both ordered seafood dishes.
Then it was on to Duluth, to the auditorium on the waterfront. We were a bit late and missed part of Pieta Brown's set, but were impressed with what we saw.
What can I say about Prine's set? He played just about every song that I would have wanted him to play. He played and sang for about 2 1/2 hours straight, even though his band took a break, I was amazed that he could keep singing for so long. He opened up with "Spanish Pipedream" ("Blow Up Your TV"), which set the tone for the evening; lots of old Prine favorites. His second song was "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore", one he said he resurrected by request of the President. Well, George W. didn't actually make a request, but he was askin' for it, Prine said. During his performance of "Some Humans Ain't Human", from his recent Grammy-winning album "Fair and Square", some human a few rows down from us decided it was his patriotic duty to stand up and shout obscenities when Prine got to the part where he said what he felt about the war in Iraq. I guess I support the right of both to free speech, but Prine had a lot more class. With rights come responsibilities.
It was interesting to note that most of the audience was probably over 40. I guess that's the demographic I identify with the most: a bunch of old hippies. Everyone knew all the words to "Illegal Smile". Pieta Brown was probably the youngest one there as she sang along with Prine on the last song, "Paradise". A fitting way to end the evening, but does the audience demographic say that today's kids have lost any idea of what Paradise might be?
The sound quality was lacking, though, to the point where a mandolin didn't even sound remotely like a mandolin. And my threshold for tolerance for loudness in music was exceeded several painful times. I guess I'm just used to smaller venues and smaller sound systems. Plus I can do without the crowds. But all in all, it was worth it to see Prine. And it was worth it to get some time away from the kids, something I'm convinced now that all marriages would benefit from.