Sunday, October 18, 2009

The mindlessness of strangers

You know, the more time I spend in the company of strangers, the more I despair for the future of the species. There's just no getting away from it - people are weird.

Take the woman sitting next to me at the concert on Friday, who sat through Anthony Ross' encore with a scissor in hand, trimming her nails. Yes, actually trimming her nails while the cellist was playing [1]!

Or the woman at the ballet yesterday [2] who decided that since her ticket said Row 20 Seat 4, she was obviously in the first seat in row 24 (because 20+4=24, see!).

Or the person sitting behind me in the bus this afternoon, saying this to an acquaintance she ran into on the bus (and speaking, needless to say, really, really loud):

"I have to confess I keep going back there just for him. I can't help it. I really want him. He's so delicious. I know it's silly. I know I have to stop. But, I mean, I'm not doing any harm am I? I mean, it's not like I'm stalking him or anything. I just keep showing up there to see him. To be honest, I've known for some time that he's into boys. You know. And that just makes me sad. I keep thinking maybe he'll get over it and notice me. I know it's silly. I really have to stop, don't I?"
[acquaintance, who has been maintaining an embarrassed silence through this outpouring, says something noncommittal]

"Yes, I know. I will. It's just that I've never felt the kind of passion I feel for him for anyone else. But then, passion can turn bad too, you know. But I don't think that's happening to me. I just need to stop myself from going there. But he's so attractive..."

I'm NOT exaggerating. Promise.

[1] Okay, said encore consisted of a fairly uninspired rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow [3], so it wasn't exactly the highpoint of the evening, but still.

[2] The Royal Winnipeg Ballet premiering their new ballet - Moulin Rouge. All in all, an exquisite performance. The fact that it kept slipping into bathos probably has more to do with the fact that I'm not a big fan of traditional ballet than anything else.

[3] Which is a nice enough song, but playing it after Schumann is like serving Hershey bars after a wine tasting.


Anonymous said...

I don't know. I mean trimming one's nails while listening to music is pretty much up there on everyone's list of Non-Weird Things We Do, non? Getting your nail clippers to the orchestra is just a more evolved way of doing it. (Of course, its kind of gross if the clippings fell amongst the lower tiers, but we'll assume she has that under control).

In fact, this idea has possibilities. Think about all the boring tasks you put off - chopping veggies, folding clothes, paying bills online. Now imagine you could do all of that to the strains of Mozart played by a world famous orchestra. You could even take a nap during the second movement. Imagine the increase in audience if they permitted this. They could even do a Wed night Supper Special (I hear Rossini used to be a chef?). Or a Saturday morning Payments Special (Mendelssohn the Banker's Son?).

btw, Somewhere over the fucking rainbow??? As an encore???


Falstaff said...

n!: no lower tiers - combination of Minneapolis and having a job means I can afford the main floor. My bigger issue was the snip-snip sounds punctuating the music.

I think I'm going to start grading papers during the concert. That way I can let the music determine whether I furiously mark the answer as wrong, or am gently forgiving.

And ya, I know, I know. Apparently his daughter requested it - a piece of information that I suspect was supposed to make you go awwww! but which only added to the mounting evidence that having children is the first step towards barbarism.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and acknowledging, in a public space, that SOTFR is a 'nice enough song' is already barbarism. What next, Hotel California on the harp?


Falstaff said...

n! Oh, come on. I can think of several jazz renditions of SOTR that are very interesting. I just don't think it's appropriate for a post-Schumann encore.

Anonymous said...

Dear Falstaff, today I discovered your blog and I spent the last two hours reading and remembering as much decent thoughts and words as possible. Holden, I want to find out who you really are, but not in a creepy way! please give me a hint or tell me at least how old you are.
with all my passion,

Cheshire Cat said...

"There's just no getting away from it - people are weird."

Indeed, there's no getting away from oneself...

But to see the full range of human weirdness, there's no better place than a blog.