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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Social graces

Can someone out there explain if it's me, or all these others?

Last week I found myself in a theater. A real live theater with real live performers on stage and music and a script and everything.

We happily took seats WAY back in the orchestra section from the nice guy at the rush window earlier that evening. And we were ALL very excited, as we were going to see "Hair." It happened to be opening night and it was a total spur-of-the-moment idea that worked.

I wish I'd been dressed a little nicer. But this was Hollywood, not downtown, and it was "Hair," not "Carmen". We were okay. I was in work duds, not evening finery. I was still dressed better than two-thirds of the audience.

The curtain was supposed to go up at 8, but the stars were still coming down the red carpet. Okay, the only one I saw was Cheryl Burke from "Dancing with the Stars." I know there were others. There were cameras and microphones and things denoting a "very special" performance. The boys and I made our way in and settled in our seats. We were towards the middle, 3 rows from the back. I was the last one in. A party of three came in and took their seats on the aisle. This left one seat between them and us.

10 minutes later, in came the owner of the single seat. A young, pudgy woman wearing jeans and a t-shirt that didn't come to the top of her pants. First off, I have NO cause to bitch about her being pudgy, I'm past pudgy and into "Caution, wide load" myself. I eyed her girth warily though, a simple matter of seating. Two pudgies next to one another can get uncomfortable.

Well, she sat down and proceeded to settle in. She seemed to have an unlimited supply of tote bags and a humongous purse, all of which were being flung from over her shoulders and over the heads of the surrounding audience. Then off came the coat, which is when I discovered the way too short t-shirt. FINALLY she settled back into the seat. And proceeded to talk to everyone. Okay, she's friendly, she's by herself, I'm good with that. The show was running late, she wanted it to start NOW! There were empty seats closer to the front, she wanted one of those too.

Well, at not quite 8:20 the lights went down and, mercifully, she shut up. No, she didn't shut up but she did stop talking. And started singing.

And dancing.

Her arms flew out, she began singing "Aquarius" out LOUD and she swayed and wriggled in her seat. It was not a pretty sight. She then proceeded to let fly with a loud "WOO!" which was at a pitch that literally make my jump a good four inches. The decibel level of her "WOO!" and the configuration of my eardrum were NOT a good match. I could feel things vibrating in there.

Well, between the dancing, the flailing arms, the continual shouting of "WOO!" and the singing I found myself continually cringing to my right. At least my older son was in that seat, I may have been encroaching on someones personal space but at least I was related to him.

After awhile I began to wonder if it was just me, if I was turning into a crotchety old lady. Every time a cast member said "hello" on stage, she yelled "Hello!" right back. As she got into a half sitting, half standing position (which afforded me the view of too short shirt riding up and her too low jeans pulling down), threw her arms into the air and started chanting "Hell no, we won't go!" I lunged to my right and assumed a position that's normally used in response to the warning "Brace for impact." I've seen calmer six year olds at Chuck E.Cheeses.

I began to develop some concern for her mental stability. I looked around the rest of the audience. Feet were tapping, hands were clapping in rhythm, broad smiles of enjoyment were everywhere. But no one else looked as if they had just stumbled into a Holy Rollers Revival Meeting. I noticed the man on her left was now cringing towards his left and my younger son leaned over towards me and said "I'll change seats with you at intermission."

I was thoroughly miserable and she had ruined the entire first act for me. She did quiet down when the cast member in the aisle by our row gave the flower to someone else. In fact, she pouted.

After intermission we returned to our seats. She came down and lounged in the aisle, pretty much confirming my suspicion that she intended to appropriate a better seat. I eyed her warily. She glared at me, I KNOW she was thinking I was a stodgy old lady who had NO freaking CLUE what it was like to be young and I had ruined the first act for HER. I was okay with this. I was there for the FIRST tour of "Hair" - don't GO there with me.

She took a seat as the house lights went down, across the aisle from where we had all been enjoying the show together just 20 minutes earlier. I occasionally stole a glance at her in her new aisle seat. The seats around her were empty, looked as if a group had either stolen better seats up front or left an intermission. Sitting alone she wasn't dancing. She stopped singing. The frenzy of the first act was gone. My son leaned over to me and whispered "Look...she's stopped performing for us."

Damn! He nailed it. At least she wasn't a lunatic. Okay, she was. But I no longer worried about what I should do when she fell on the floor in ecstasy and started foaming at the mouth...we didn't cover that in first aid.

The second act, btw, went much better, my left palm was bruised the next morning from vigorous clapping. I have plans to go back again, before they leave, also with rush seats, as I'd really like to see the first act, I missed quite a bit of it.

On the other hand, while the rush seats are frequently in the orchestra, I'm thinking maybe I should spend the extra five bucks and actually buy tickets in the balcony. Because those people know how to behave.

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