Last night my wife dragged me to – I mean encouraged me to attend – a musical production of the Savoy group at Centrepointe Theatre in Ottawa. I'm not much of a fan of plays, and much less so a fan of musicals, but given the importance of her attendance at this particular one, I put on a clean shirt and fancy shoes and out we went.
What's significant about this is not that I went (though surely husband points should be tallied!) or that I put on a clean shirt...but what happened before the play started.
The show featured a live orchestra, and a talented one at that. And before the overture (or whatever you call the long drawn out number they play before the curtain is lifted - a number, I might add, that added ten minutes to a very long show!) all of a sudden came the familiar strains of our national anthem.
It was shocking. Truly unexpected. As we jumped out of our seats to stand - like puppets, almost - I looked at my wife in utter surprise.
We just spent a week of vacation in Texas, at the end of February, and there, in the heart of bible country, where a prayer is said at the start of every event, you expect the national anthem to play. Watching an arena full of honest-to-goodness cowboys and their families rise in unison, take off their hats (cowboy and otherwise) and put their hands over their chests is a moving thing. It's a cultural thing.
But here, in the polite and self-effacing yet smug North, we don't expect the national anthem to play anywhere but in hockey arenas and schools...and even there, one has to wonder the point sometimes.
Anyhow, there we were, in a crowd of hundreds, ready to submit to two and a half hours of Gilbert & Sullivan, taking part in the singing of "Oh! Canada" like school children or hockey fans, or perhaps good hard-working cowboys far removed from Texas.
And I really don't know what to think about it.