Audience manners — or lack thereofSection 4A, Bill's Briefs Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
Social Chaos: Bill's Briefs
I enjoy attending theater, opera and movies. However, inconsiderate audience members often ruin the illusion of participating in love, adventure and daring-do.
For example years ago while I was enjoying a movie, three young women sat directly in front of me. The problem? All had huge afros creating a 6 feet x 1 foot black bush right at my viewing level. In days of yore one asked ladies to remove their hats, but in the ‘70s in New York City with black power and women’s lib commanding the headlines, I deemed it a wiser and safer policy to change my seat.
I was not always at a loss for words. One night at the opera, as Lucia began her first aria, the gentleman behind me wanted everyone to know what an opera buff he was and so proceeded to loudly hum and mumble along with her. A few neighbors cleared their throats loudly and I swear Ms. Southerland scowled in our direction, but to no avail. Finally, I turned and in a voice loud enough to hit the balcony informed him, “We paid to hear HER sing it!” The diva smiled.
Another time I can boast of was when the woman behind me at the theater began loudly rummaging for gold or an illusive lemon drop in her huge crisp paper bag. After five tooth-grinding minutes, I enquired, “What are you doing, madam, building a nest?”
Feel free to use these lines which, I trust, will never be directed at you.
We all know it is dangerous to pronounce unfamiliar words by their spelling. Recently, I heard a local radio announcer tout the famous opera La Bomb. Puzzled, I racked my brain for some modern anti-war work until the light dawned: La Bohème.
A French-Canadian fellow teacher with a distinct accent kept talking about the literary masterpiece her class was reading, “Dissimilar.” I pretended to know all about it and agreed with everything she said. Another teacher eventually told me she was talking about “Daisy Miller.”
In my own book of embarrassing moments I recall working in a radio station part-time during summer vacation and read the coming events portion of the local news for the first (and only) time. The regular reader suddenly had a toilet emergency and the script was shoved into my hand and we were instantly on the air. All went well until:
“Thursday at 8 p.m. Tatiana Martchikova and Sergei Koshinevsky of the Svatikova-Koshinevsky Corps de Ballet will perform the famous pas de deux from Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s beloved Swan Lake.”
The ensuing shrieks and hoopla were most unkind, although many complimented my perfect pronunciation of Swan Lake.
Swapping memories of such embarrassing events of our youth make for a great evening of laughter. Try it.
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