07 October 2006

I'm Worried About This

I'm too much of a traditionalist for this. I can still remember my first symphony concert: my dad was sick, but my parents already had tickets and mom still wanted to go, so I got picked to accompany her. After all, I was the older one at maybe 7 or 8, though that still seemed rather young to attend the symphony.

She suggested I wear the white dress with red ribbons, the fanciest I had (it matched one in my sister's wardrobe, maybe they were Easter dresses). And she instructed me in appropriate concert behavior: how to sit still and silent, like church, and maybe when to clap. She asked me several times if I was sure I wanted to go, if I thought I could act the needful way.

It was too much an exercise in the imagination not to go: the floofiest dress, the adult event. I had played violin since before I could remember, and now the teachers would perform for me.

Since then, I have been a behavior nazi. Well, that's partly because my dad never abided fidgeting or other distracting or inappropriate actions in public places. But especially not during concerts: no talking, definitely no candy wrappers, no head-bobbing or toe-tapping, certainly no getting up before intermission, no clapping at the wrong time. I'm nervous about even moving my legs to change which one crosses which. I have unwittingly taught myself to place the program on the crossed knee so that I can consult it for the current movement name at only a glance, no drop of the chin. It's ridiculously staid, but at least no one gets distracted . . . least of all myself.

Now, maybe I have remembered the details of that first concert incorrectly; my mother will have to offer a correction if that's the case. But surely she will agree with me that there is something in my nature and my years of practice that really ought to bristle at the idea of bringing a cell phone to a symphony concert, and especially at the idea of using it there.

The idea is tremendously creative and apt, hopefully more of a subtle cultural critique than an actual celebration of the ubiquitous mobile phone, but I'd rather I and everyone else attending the symphony learn to leave their cells in their cars. Better still, at home. Go to listen, not to wish you were somewhere else with someone else who might have something unnecessary to tell you while you're stuck in a concert.

1 comment:

Mom said...

Jen, the only correction I would make is that I don't think your Dad was sick (he never missed anything for being sick, including well over 20 years of work), rather I believe he had to work.

You are exactly right that he was intense about proper public behavior. Having his children know correct etiquette is a quirk of his that has profited both you and your sister. I suspect and expect that training to be passed on to the Bean and all siblings!

I'm finishing another long day in preparation for your new nursery. As I sit here a little bit weary, I'm pleased that your thoughts are also of family and good memories both those already created and those yet to be.