Buying the entire series of pops symphony tickets is a two-edged sword: The good news is having the same choice seat—at a discount. The bad news? Some six-foot-six guy could be blocking your view—at every performance. My hubby and I see this as cultural roulette and it’s a game we’re willing to play. After four years of fine tuning, we were thrilled with our 5th row aisle seats. But we were about to discover that the trio of silver-hairs to our immediate right were less than pleased.
The tribute to the ‘60s and the hits of Simon and Garfunkel opened with a baritone voice booming in mock formality: Welcome to Feelin’ Groovy, but do remember, in spite of the concert name, no smoking—of anything—will be allowed. Above the raucous laughter that followed came an unmistakable angry howl: “And NO SCREAMING!” My eyes remained focused on the stage, but my peripheral vision caught the figure of a woman two seats to my right, bending at the waist to snarl her piercing warning in my direction.
The shriveled old hags were winning.
No screaming? Visions of Beatlemania with pubescent girls shrieking in unison, tears rolling down their faces, hands clawing at their cheeks as if the ecstasy was beyond endurance. The concert had yet to start so I had obviously missed arrows of reproof these ladies had shot in my direction at previous events. My mind flashed back to the most recent Cirque de la Symphonie, where even our subdued Sunday matinee crowd—a sea of bald heads and white hair—had been whipped into a frenzy of high-volume appreciation.
This was a first: Having someone rail against cheering “WOOOOOO!” in the midst of spirited applause. Nor did the mouthpiece for this group confine her commentary to my behavior. She loudly talked her way through one entire tune and spewed “This is boring!” when the lead singer opened a song with a brief narrative. At the end of every number, I could feel her eyes bore through me and hear her hollering “STOP SCREAMING!” above the din of the crowd.
Gearing up for a full-blown intermission confrontation, I was sifting through the Top Ten best retaliations, David Letterman style, but my spirits were imploding. Some inner critic had been startled awake and was taking control, shaming me into polite clapping and stifling my cheer into a faint woooooo at the end of riotously pulsating numbers. The lead singer was belting out lyrics about being slandered and libeled and I could feel his pain. The shriveled old hags were winning.
In an act of solidarity, Bill upped the ante by seeing my decibels and raising them with truly ear-piercing whistles.
At intermission I leaned over and clued in my husband about the shenanigans that had been unfolding since we arrived. Bill was incredulous. “But you aren’t screaming.” My point exactly. And trust me, I can scream.
In an act of solidarity, Bill upped the ante by seeing my decibels and raising them with truly ear-piercing whistles. Who’s sorry now? Okay, I was a teensy bit sorry because I was the one standing right next to him, but the gratification was worth the risk of temporary deafness. Team Maggy began multiplying exponentially. Even the band kicked in with a sing-a-long competition, the men against the women. Spirits were soaring off the chart, which gave our little ladies a chance to spread their disdain to the stage artists and the entire audience.
Amid a frenzy of thunderous clapping, cheering, real screaming and two-fingered whistles—the band returned to the stage for their encore number: Cecelia. Oh thank you, gods and goddesses, for allowing me to belt out those deliciously raunchy lyrics with complete abandon. The tide had turned and my freak flag was flying at full mast.
As the din subsided, the band leader asked if we wanted to hear a few more numbers. Another gale storm of whistling and cheering broke out—with the exception of our scowling row mates, who managed to shout “NO!” in synchronized unison. We have a clear winner, folks.
The three biddies crawled rough shod over us in a dramatically huffy exit with the ringleader's parting shot ringing out above the exuberant racket, "At least we'll never have to put up with this again!"
They're changing seats next year! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
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