Like the song commemorating our first date, this wouldn’t be considered a traditional love song. But a political song makes sense for us. Before that first date, after Joanna spotted me on a dance floor and invited me to a party, we rudely ignored all the other partygoers and spent the entire night talking with each other about politics.
We’ve been talking politics since then, usually agreeing (we do split on presidential elections and a few other issues at times). We do more than talk, though; primarily because of Joanna’s empathy, we’ve volunteered for a number of good causes (often working with homeless folks) and have participated in a variety of protests (once ending up having our photo in the New York Times Magazine, illustrating this story, as a result). Despite being an introvert, Joanna even sang for a time with the “Raging Grannies.”
Before Joanna and I ever met, however, I belonged to a loose-knit group of guys who called themselves “the Utah Phillips Fan Club.” The club (made up mostly of my father and his friends) provided an unneeded excuse to drink beer and tell stories. I may be the only member of the club who actually saw Phillips perform in three states, and I took Joanna to the second and third of those performances. Recognizing a kindred spirit, she became an immediate fan.
One other note about Joanna’s empathy: We saw “Letters Home from Vietnam” a few years into our marriage; she began crying during the opening credits and stopped about two days later. I no longer take her to serious documentaries. Now we watch them at home — if we’re going to pay the price of theater tickets, we want to enjoy the outing.