Stairway to Heaven

In the early ‘90s, I discovered that for me, a date to a laser show was a guaranteed relationship killer. The thing about a laser show is that nothing happens. You pay admission to sit and stare at a ceiling and listen to loud music for 45 minutes. That’s it. It’s even more boring than fireworks, if you can believe it. So, left with nothing else to capture my attention, the two times I was taken to a laser show on a date, my thoughts turned to the person sitting next to me: “Why am I here? Why am I here with him? Do I even really like him?” 45 minutes is a long time to devote to a listing of grievances. Lots of time to think. And think. And why does he always say “Bueno”? He doesn’t even speak Spanish! As a result, both times I attended a laser show, I left with a firm resolve to squirm out of the relationship as soon as possible.

The last laser show I attended was Pink Floyd’s The Wall one month before my first date with this guy, so I count it as a lucky break.


Not just another brick in the wall.

I haven’t been to another laser show since. We’ve had a great marriage for almost 20 years, but why tempt fate? And also, why make ourselves sit through that? Then again, that kind of sounded like the perfect blog challenge to me. So last weekend we decided to go to the Clark Planetarium for their Led Zeppelin light show. We knew the dangers. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, that it could possibly ruin all we have built together, and yet we forged onward from the land of ice and snow up the stairway to heaven.

I wasn’t expecting much. After all, isn’t watching a laser show pretty much like staring at a screen saver for 45 minutes?  Or staring through those kaleidoscope glassesI honestly think the only ones who truly find laser shows interesting are stoners and cats.

But we gave it a try. I was surprised to find that, instead of feeling bored and antsy, I felt relaxed and slightly hypnotized by the psychedelic animation (very swirly).


Nowadays, I don’t seem to mind having time to myself to do nothing, so it didn’t feel like torture the way it did when I was eighteen. I was also surprised that I didn’t actually know much about Led Zeppelin. Each song that came on, I thought, “Oh, is this by them too? I kind of like this one.” And when the show ended, I was surprised that it had felt so short. I had expected to go crazy with boredom.


My husband slept through most of it, which was completely understandable. And then he apologized several times, which was completely unnecessary. After all, mellow is the man who knows what he’s been missing. And sure, this time he slept, but who knows about the next time? Because in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.

We both came out of the experience still as committed to our marriage as ever, if not more so. We realized that then as it was, then again it will be. Though the course may change sometimes, rivers always reach the sea. Plus, we’ve got a whole lotta love.


When I stopped to think about it, I realized that in our two decades together, we’ve endured a whole lot of boredom in airports, hospital rooms, movie theaters, cars, churches, school auditoriums and concert halls, and our living room. What’s one more hour in one more place? In fact, maybe they should include that in wedding vows along with sickness, health and poverty. Because whether we realized it at the time, when we married, we committed ourselves to entertainment and monotony, to stimulating conversation and everyday minutiae, to amusement and tedium. And I like it that way, because who wants to feel like they have to be “on” all the time? That would feel like a first date, and isn’t one of the perks of marriage that it saves us from ever having to go on another first date? So I love it when he tells me about the dry cleaner losing a button or about the traffic on the freeway and I tell him the exact route I took while running or which bills I paid. I’ll take that over first date banter any day.

Maybe the problem wasn’t with the laser shows (although I still don’t see the point). Maybe the problem was that I was a teenager and was inclined to find something wrong with just about everyone I dated (apologies to anyone who falls into that category). Or maybe the answer can be found, as almost any answer to any question, in the books of Jane Austen (substituting “laser show” for “poetry”, obviously):

“I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!”

“I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,”said Darcy.

“Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.”

This weekend’s outing verified just how stout we are…I mean, that we’re not slight and thin…I mean…never mind. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to get back to my show. It’s really good. I’ve been binge watching for days.




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