Last Friday evening I did something that I expect many, perhaps most, would frown upon or think me crazy. I knew immediately that I wanted to write about it, but found it difficult to come up with an approach. It came to me just now and I began to write.
At a concert by the New Jersey Symphony at NJPAC in Newark, I called out loudly during the performance. I didn’t yell, but called out much louder than I had intended. My voice reverberated through most of the theatre and I would have been mortified if it hadn’t been for the elderly couple sitting directly behind us. They immediately and unambiguously indicated their approval for what I had done. Others were stony, but that couldn’t matter now. It turned out later when we talked about it, that they didn’t even know why I had called out – they didn’t and couldn’t have seen it – but had given me the benefit of the doubt. That, possibly because I chose an appropriate moment to take action – that’s my guess. What a WONDERFUL thing! To go out on a limb anticipating unpleasantness, but getting validation. AMAZING! I explained to them that I was still “churning,” but if I had done nothing – a bit of an exaggeration, but it is what I said – I would have been churning forever.
Three beautiful pieces by Tchaikovsky, one quite familiar, the other two not so much, made up the first half, and after the intermission, Mendelssohn’s great Italian Symphony. Pincus Zuckerman was the guest conductor and also soloist in the two opening pieces. Towards the beginning of the second solo piece my attention was commandeered by my noticing, just down below – we were in the first tier, in the first row slightly left of center – the bright screen of what had to be a 5×7 tablet, or larger. I just can’t understand how people can disregard their fellows and have no concern at all for them and their experience. Are they unable to imagine their roles reversed? I guess not since we see so much of this kind of thing.
So, what to do? Say something? Not say something? But, after what must have been at least six or seven long minutes – was probably five – he, or she, since even later I couldn’t tell, shut it. What to say was easy because it came to me easy, but whether or not to say it? I decided I would call below as I waited impatiently, still wavering, for the one movement piece to finish.
I don’t even know if he, or whatever, an older person for sure, was using the tablet during the first piece. I can be that oblivious. But after noticing, I am completely incapable of ignoring or unnoticing. Well, that is neither here nor there, so while I waited – distracted from the beautiful playing – I realized when the perfect time to call out would be. With that, I was decided. I knew that Zuckerman would have to leave the stage to return his precious fiddle to safety, so I decided to do my thing the moment he disappeared, applause completely subsided, and the auditoruium descended into its normal in-between-pieces buzz. It was then I loudly called out, “NOW YOU SHUT IT! KEEP IT SHUT!”
He and many others turned to look, and I receded. I looked about and discovered the couple behind us clearly showing their approval. No one else – and I was looking around for it – but no one else. So I had taken my chances and they had made my day. So instead of adding to the times when I wanted to take action and chickened out, now I have a story to remember and forever tell. It reminds me of my father who told of seemingly outrageous things that he had done, that, in his heart of hearts, had felt were the right thing to do.
So he (or she) totally behaved during the entire rest of the concert. Their neighbor to their right read from a smaller tablet during the intermission, but not at all during the rest of the concert. I myself sometimes do that, although I don’t like myself for it. One other person down below, towards the front and far to the right, kept their tablet on for a few minutes, but even if they had been closer and kept it on longer, even for the whole symphony, I would have said nothing. You act once, only one time, and that’s all!
So am I crazy? I think not. I simply cannot abide things like this. Perhaps it is, or it may definitely be, the Don Quixote in me. My father was like this. Maybe I inherited his Don Quixote gene. I sure do hope so!!!