Billy and Julie's Hot Tub Talk, Ep. 3: Harrison Ford is always Denzel Washington -- or something

Asking the eternal questions: Is George Clooney always George Clooney? Does a "Meryl Streep" exist? It's a special 25th wedding anniversary episode. Also, our apologies to the new subscribers.


Today is Billy and Julie’s 25th wedding anniversary. We shall celebrate with a podcast and some exposition — as all monumental celebrations should be celebrated.

The great Diane Ravitch, who may well be reading this introduction, came out of semi-blog retirement to grow Billy’s email subscription list by about 20 percent over the past few days with this very generous introduction to her readership.

Billy is very grateful; Julie, who knows that Billy already talks too much and is much too pleased with himself, as this podcast will demonstrate, feels more ambivalence. However, she more than shares the ferocious commitment to asshole-challenging that truly animates Public Enemy Number 1.

We both recognize that you, most valued new subscriber, may find yourself saying: I came here for the piercing commentary about Florida’s purposely broken Jeb Crow education governance system; and I’m getting bubble sound effects and an oldish married couple sharing the Gen X pop culture inside jokes that sustain their love?

We would answer: well, yeah. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ When we can keep the chlorine at a safe level, we like to jump into our hot tub bubbles and chat and have good, deep conversations about solving the world’s problems — or stupid things — which are often the same. And we laugh a lot. Try it; you might like it. Check out our first two episodes — we’re still new to this:

Episode 1: Deconstructing Cobra Kai

Episode 2: Billus Interruptus Too Muchus

Also, it won’t always be education or podcasting here at PEN1 — you’ll get healthy doses of Florida’s ill-reported American history, which always seems to connect to the moment at hand. Examples:

“A doomed feral coup wrapped in a hesitant lynching”

“A Man or a Mother: the women and invasions of Florida’s most profound lawsuit”

Now, with the exposition out of the way, Billy is going to drop into first person for just a moment, knowing that Julie is on the email list — and may or may not read this.

If she does, I’m probably getting divorced, which would be one of the great self-owns in small-listenership, vanity podcast history.

We recorded this episode about two weeks ago — and you’ll hear an exchange something like this:

Julie: “This will probably come out on our anniversary.”

Billy (with self-certain incredulity): “Oh no, we’ll have a whole other one done by then.”

Julie was right, as she always is. But I’m going to jujitsu this and claim a design that did not exist.

It’s entirely fitting that this episode come out on the 25th anniversary of the day that our parents, two of our siblings, two friends, and our two older (but tiny at that time) kids crowded into a little blue marrying house in suburban New Orleans, where streamers blew festively from the window unit AC. I screwed up the vows and putting on the ring, as I recall, which is very on brand for me.

Julie and I are not people who seek ceremony for anything.

But you might think of the “Harrison Ford is always Harrison Ford” game as one of our wedding sacraments. It has been part of our marriage repertoire for a long long time — like the “worthless/unamusing axis” scatterplot game and so many other games that only she and I know. It embodies us in so many ways.

Marriage is hard and perhaps unnatural and it doesn’t work for everyone for life. Personality and fate and fortune and money and sex and ambition and enthusiasms and time crash into each other unpredictably, to say the least. I don’t judge other people’s marriages because I understand how kind fate has been to mine. And I never want to tempt it.

Truly sharing a life with somebody — and having it shared back; sharing life with someone to whom you entrust vulnerabilities no one else sees, including deep faith that it will continue for another 25 years or however long we’re breathing; sharing life with a presence as given and available and endlessly deep as the Atlantic Ocean…well, that has been my great luck.

I hope I have never confused “given” with “for granted.” If I have, I’m deeply sorry. And I can only hope that Julie has gotten from me a fraction of what she has given. I can’t wait to see what new games the rest of our lives hold for us.

I love you very much, Julie.