Why does it always happen to me?
Why am I always the guy who has to sit near the loudmouth at a sporting event, or in a movie theater or at a concert?
It happened again recently at a John Prine concert at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium. Some guy — and you know who you are — felt compelled to sing along with every song. At one point — Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” — this guy actually added sound effects. During the line, “There’s flies in the kitchen,” he made a buzzing sound. Can you believe it?
My entire row turned around and shot him a mean look. I put my right index finger to my lips, looked at him and did the “Sshhh” thing. You know what he did? He put his right index finger to his lips and gave me the “Sshhh” thing right back. His buddy seemed embarrassed and I think he tried talking to him, but it did no good. This guy was intent on singing. And he wasn’t really singing loudly, maybe just above a whisper, but he was singing nonetheless, and it was a major annoyance. My friend said it was like bad stereo.
Look buddy, we know you’re a fan, OK? We know you have all John Prine’s albums and you know all the songs by heart and when John dies, you’ll be able to say, “I’ve been listening to him for years.” We all get it and we are all duly impressed. Now could you please quiet down? I didn’t come here to hear you. I came here to listen to John Prine.
Like I said, it always seems to happen to me. I’m at a Boston Red Sox game recently, sitting in front of a couple of women, one of whom is explaining all the intricacies of baseball to her friend. The problem was that she was giving her friend bad information. Tim Wakefield doesn’t only throw a knuckleball. He can throw a curve and a fastball, too. And Dustin Pedroia is not a rookie. It took all the discipline I had not turn around and correct her. But what’s the point?
I once sat in the stands at Fenway behind a lady who was carrying on a cell phone conversation for an hour about her job. …”So I says to him, I says, ‘If I’m going to do all this extra work I expect to get paid extra.’ And he says to me, he says, ‘We’ll, you can be replaced, you know.’ Do you believe the attitude of that man? I mean, who does he think he is?”…
I’m sure we’ve all sat in front of that person in a movie theater who just won’t shut up. He’s already seen the movie and he’s telling his date what’s going to happen next. I actually got up once and changed seats, but not before looking at the person and saying, “You are absolutely ridiculous.”
Then there was the time back in the early 1980s when I was at an Emerson, Lake and Palmer concert. Some kid a couple of rows in front of me obviously had a little too much Boone’s Farm Apple Wine or something. He sang along with every song, got up and danced, fell over into the seats in front of him, conducted the band at regular intervals, and went berserk when ELP launched into “Lucky Man.”
The kid got up, looked around at the audience and started crying, “He was so lucky. He was a lucky man. He really was.” The kid was the really the lucky one. He was lucky that nobody beat him to a pulp.
Finally, and to the grateful praise of those around him, the kid passed out, only to revive 10 minutes later during Carl Palmer’s drum solo. As Palmer moved to his right, pounding on every single piece of percussion in his kit, the stand upon which he stood started rotating to the left. Bright lights shot out of its base creating a spectacular visual.
With renewed vigor, the kid jumps to his feet and starts screaming, “Blow up! Blow up! Please blow up.”
So, the lesson here is simple. When you go to a venue, remember that you are a spectator, not a participant, otherwise, you’d be getting paid.
Dennis Shaughnessey’s e-mail address is email@example.com.