You know that show, What Would You Do?, where John Quinones orchestrates outrageous situations in public places and the cameras roll to see how ordinary folks react? Last night, I attended a theater performance, and I’m not joking, I started to look around to see if I saw old John Q. hiding in the wings.
The show was Memphis, and if you have an opportunity to see this musical, you have to go–it’s SO good! If you live somewhere near me, you can see the most excellent performers at the Aurora Theater in beautiful downtown Lawrenceville, GA till August 30th (if it’s not sold out yet!).
So the Beneficent Mr. Hall and I sat down in our seats; he was on the outside of the row. A somewhat elderly gentleman sat next to me and right away, I could tell he was a talker. Nothing wrong with that, I’m a bit of a talker myself. But then he continued to talk during the Artistic Director’s opening statements (when a very nice gentleman welcomes people to the show, thanks all the sponsors, etc.) and I began to squirm a little because that’s just a teensy bit rude, right?
Thankfully, the show started and it opens with a bang. It’s rhythm and blues and gospel and rock ‘n roll and my seatmate stopped talking.
But just for a couple minutes.
He started up again, talking about the show. And not whispering, people. He spoke in a relatively normal voice. Saying things like, “Oh, look. Now he’s gonna sing. He’s really good, isn’t he?” Or, “Uh-oh. He better not do that.” And “Can you believe this?”
Well, no. No, sir, I could not believe this. It was a constant stream of commentary throughout the performance. And then he started singing--not every word–because these are not well-known songs and it was clear that he didn’t actually know the songs. He’d just pick up on the chorus and join in on a word or two.
Now, I am not gonna lie. Cathy C. Hall has been known to sing along during a musical. But just in my own wee little head. Maybe in a very, very soft voice. And I at least sing the right words, the right tune. Once my new friend started his very unique singing, I couldn’t help laughing (ultra quietly, though). I looked at the Beneficent Mr. Hall and we nearly lost it. I mean, you know he was loud if Mr. Hall heard him–sitting on the other side as he was, and besides, Mr. Hall is practically deaf. At intermission, a lady sitting in the row behind him and three seats down, remarked on his wonderful singing.
“Oh, that wasn’t me,” he said. We all smiled. He genuinely didn’t realize he was singing.
If John Quinones expected me to fuss at this gentleman, he was sorely disappointed. Not that he wasn’t annoying; he most assuredly had his moments. But his joy! Oh my word, it was unbounded. Honestly, I have never seen anyone enjoy a show as much as this man. He was having so much fun, I didn’t dare rain on his parade. In fact, I might’ve even enjoyed the show more than I would have if I’d been sitting next to a more subdued patron of the arts.
As I walked out of that theater, I thought of the person who wrote the show’s book, and the lyricist, and the musical director and all the actors. How they brought so much joy to this man, and to the Beneficent Mr. Hall and me, and all the other patrons. And I really hoped that someday, somewhere, a girl or boy would hold my book in their hands and maybe read lines out loud, laugh and giggle, perhaps even get in trouble because they had a nose buried in my words instead of the Math problem on the white board. I really, really hoped that someone would experience unbridled joy, reading my book.
So I’m still smiling this morning, thinking of the show and the gentleman who sat next to me. What I did when faced with that outrageous situation was more or less appreciate the joy.
Tell me, what would you do?
Oh, Cathy, what a well told story. I was there with you. Not sure how I would have responded. I hope I would have been as gracious as you…….but not sure.
Oh, thank you, Sherri! And yes, you are a very gracious Southern charmer. I know you would’ve just smiled and enjoyed the show. 🙂
What a lovely post, and you certainly did the right thing by not making a big deal of the old gent’s disruptions. There is so little joy in life for some people. I was at lunch yesterday when an elderly woman returned from the buffet and asked the waitress why she had cleared the table and allowed someone else to sit at HER table. Poor dear was lost. The man across from me asked his wife of many years if they were in their own kitchen. Hooray for you, Cathy. John Q, you know what I’d do?!
So very true, Linda! And Linda, you’d probably write a wonderful essay and sell it! 🙂
Cathy, what a great writer you are! You told this story so well. I feel I was right there sitting on the other side of your new gentleman friend. Having read your post, I would now do what you did. What a beautiful message you weaved through your words. Thanks for showing us the joy.
Gosh, Lori, you’re making me blush. 🙂 And if you indeed spread the joy, I’ll be very happy!
Why wait for a kid to read your book? You just accomplished what you set out to, by writing this rockin’ post. Joy!
As I was reading, two things struck me. First, it took me back to a show the hubster and I attended back when we lived in Vegas. Willie Nelson was playing Caesar’s Palace. It was in the showroom, with tables set up so they could serve cocktails and food and stuff, and one of the man sharing the table with us was plastered. I mean, totally and completed snockered. He sang loud and proud to EVERY FLIPPIN’ SONG—so loud it obscured Willie. And considering that those tickets cost a small fortune and the blood of our firstborn, we were not pleased. Turned out we didn’t have to complain as his wife, seated next to him, finally shut him up. I always wondered what she said to clam him up, but whatever it was, it worked. Thank goodness. 🙂
The second thing that struck me is that perhaps the man in your scenario was hard of hearing and didn’t know he was being so loud. My father-in-law—Papa—wore hearing aids, but sometimes he still couldn’t hear. More than once he leaned over to whisper something to me and talked so loud that people for miles heard whatever secret he was sharing. lol He had no clue he was talking so loud. Anyway, I wondered about that when I read about your joyful man, and I believe you did exactly the right thing. Had it been Papa, I’d like to think someone as kind as you was seated next to him, sharing in his delight in the performance.
Aw, thanks, Lisa! I didn’t think of hearing aids, but I did wonder if there was something more going on with this gentleman–Mr. Hall wondered if he’d been imbibing a bit much, but I don’t think so. He was just…well, having such a good time. And I think it was just natural ebullience! 🙂
Oh, boy…I have to be honest. Were that me, I would’ve got very annoyed and leaned over to Nathanael and whispered, loudly, “SEE? This is why I don’t like going out! Other people don’t sing along when you’re watching Netflix on the couch!” Clearly, you’re a better woman than I am. I’m proud of you for being so gracious and enjoying the show even more with your unusual seat mate. I’ll try to remember this next time I find myself in the presence of a chatty stranger. Awesome, awesome post, Cath!!!
Oh, thanks, Deb! Believe me, I’ve shushed many a rude person in the movies. But this gentleman wasn’t at all rude. You would’ve done the same thing, I’m sure. (Well, you might have complained to Nathanael but you’re much too nice to ever say anything to an elderly gentleman!) 🙂
Cathy, I marvel at how you can ALWAYS find humor in any situation. Good job, girl! And see, you got a blog post out of it! I think I figured out way he didn’t know he was singing… it was one of his other personalities doing the singing!
Hahahhaaa! Gail, that’s just possible…:-)
You did the right thing. Unbridled enthusiasm over our work is what every artist dreams of.
I once went to a John Prine concert. The two guys sitting on one side of me played air guitar (acoustic air guitar) throughout the opening act while they sang. And talked. Loudly. When they did the same thing through the beginning of John Prine I complained to an usher–twice–and they talked to the manager, who moved us to a closer row… and away from the goofballs.
I think Lisa is right. He might have been hard of hearing, and didn’t realize how loud he was.
As always, you find fodder in everyday events AND connect them to writing. Bravo!
I forgot to mention they were drunk. It was a venue where they could buy drinks, and they did–quite a few of them.
Ah…the drunk and obnoxious fan. (Not that I would ever know anything about someone like that.) 😉
(But yes, I suspect this gentleman may have been a tad hard of hearing. Didn’t dampen his enthusiasm, though!)
I think you did the absolute right thing, Cathy. There are so few instances when we encounter that kind of pure joy that we need to celebrate it when we find it. I’m sure children will get the same kind of pleasure out of your books, but I do agree with Lisa: you’ve accomplished sharing the joy right here, with this post.
Oh, thank you, Theresa. And if my blog posts bring joy, that’s a pretty swell thing–I’ll take that! 🙂
What a sweet post. That gentleman was making his own joyful noise and you were gracious and kind to share his joy.