A couple of friends invited me to their kids’ Christmas concerts recently. The prospect of a night of oohing and aahing parents, grandparents and the like did not fill my heart with the glee and gladness of the season. However, in an effort to practice politeness (a challenge for me), I said yes to both offers.
The night of the first event came. I made sure to do a few breathing exercises to prepare me for having to feign smiles and give weak applause all night. Walking into the huge hall, I was surprised at how professionally decorated it was. A few hundred people, all sharply dressed, waited in great anticipation of seeing their particular Johnny perform.
The lights went down and the concert began. Child after child marched on stage, each taking their proper place, quietly awaiting their cue. And when it came, beautiful voices chimed together in epic unison. A chorus of angels. Pure perfection. And that is how the whole night went, each child doing exactly as laid out, with a sunny disposition. Children of the Stepford Wives?
When it came time for concert number two, I was even less enthused than the first time around. I contemplated bringing an iPod, a book, a hip flask. I reminded myself that I was practicing politeness, and so grudgingly went without.
This time, the venue was much smaller and there were only a few dozen folks. It was an older building without any sparkle or glitz, or even a way to dim the lights for effect.
The concert started. One of the kids held the mic, turned to his friend and asked, “Is this thing on?” The audience chuckled- oh yes, it was working just fine. I admit, even my stoic gaze lightened up.
The adult leading the show nodded and refocused the children. Within a few minutes it was apparent that she had a tremendous job on her hands- one kid constantly played with the buttons on his shirt, another wandered off the stage, while still another insisted on being in front. A couple tried to out-sing each other while another girl chewed on her hair.
That night I discovered first-hand where the internet acronym ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing) came from. My stomach hurt from the convulsions I threw it into. I was far more entertained than I could have been at any Broadway performance.
That night, too, I discovered that true perfection is actually imperfection.
Every muscle in her body tenses. Her shoulders crowd out her neck, torso maintains high alert. She tries to carry an air of nonchalance, moving slowly, as if to pace herself.
I want to tell her to relax, chill, loosen up, but I can’t. She has me gripped by the throat with her iron stare, words cannot escape.
This is how she needs things to be, squeezes the life out of everything so it becomes quiet, and still, and has no power to bother her.
Use the comment field to suggest a topic or to comment.