Embarrassing Your Kids 101I don’t know about you, but one of my greatest pleasures in life is laughing -- at my own self. I enjoy doing or saying asinine things around my children (or Lar, or random folks) and laughing, laughing, laughing while everyone else just stares in horror.
What is it about making others feel uncomfortable that thrills me so? It really is one of the great mysteries of the universe.
Anyway, last night I, along with my friend, Bambi Jo (not her real name), attended our kids’ school chorus recital, and zowie, what a fine night it was. The brand new cafitorium was packed to the rafters, the principal was there, nervously skulking about and rubbing his hands, making sure everything was running smoothly, the stage lights, many of which were not facing the stage, were intermittently blinding me between spurts of complete darkness (I believe a fourth grader may have been in charge of lighting -- either that or a totally drunk adult), and there were two special guests who performed alongside the fourth grade chamber ensemble, one an accomplished harpsichordist who performs worldwide, and the other an accomplished classical guitarist who also instructs at Eastman School of Music. Bambi Jo and I were very impressed with the special guests, and the both of us became enamored of the harpsichord, which we’d never experienced live before. We are now discussing buying a harpsichord and putting it in our adjoining backyards -- she’ll play while I dance on top. But I digress.
After the string concert, it was time for our kids to strut their stuff, and I excitedly searched the crowded stage for my girl, which was difficult, as I am blind as a decapitated bat, yet I skimmed the blurry mass of humanity for any sign of a formal pink dress and funky up-do, stage lights boring holes into my corneas. No Ariel. I looked and looked, Bambi Jo looked and looked, but no sign of my girl. As is the norm, I then began to worry, began imagining horrible things, like what if Ariel slipped and broke her back, and they whisked her off to Emergency? What if some filthy pig kidnapped her and is now eighty miles long gone in his filthy pickup to a filthy pig town full of filthy pigs? What if she disappeared into a wormhole of some sort, and is now halfway across the galaxy?
Then, thankfully, just as my heart was about to explode with grief, Bambi Jo finally pointed to the opposite side of the enormous stage: “There she is!”
Ah. Ariel had said she would be by the piano, and much my chagrin, realized she meant the piano piano, not the harpsichord. As I mentioned, neither I nor Bambi Jo had ever experienced a live harpsichord, so we, of course, had no idea what the hell. No wonder the “piano” was unusually ornate and all Mozart-y. In our defense, however, the actual piano piano was ground-level and hidden by hundreds of large, fat heads, so… Okay, fine, so Bambi Jo and I aren’t the brightest bulbs. Whatever.
I could barely make Ariel out amongst the fat heads and blinding stage lights, and our seats were far, far away from where she expected us to be, so now I worried that my daughter would think I’d left the recital in search of booze or something. I did the only thing I possibly could do to ensure my girl wouldn’t feel abandoned -- I stood up just as the chorus was about to begin and frantically waved my hands. I quickly sat down, a bit embarrassed yet feeling the old giddy goodness of being a spectacle, but for fear my daughter had missed my frantic waving, felt compelled to again stand and not only wave frantically, but give her the peace sign. The peace sign? Even I realize how completely stupid that must’ve looked. Regardless, my girl did see me, as evidenced by her look of pure disdain and short “ohmygod, sit down!” gesture
But just to make double sure, at the end of the first song, I stood yet again and screeched my approval, pumped my fist like an ass, hooted, hollered, did the requisite rock & roll “devil horns“ sign.
I knew I was humiliating my daughter. I knew I was being bad. But I couldn’t stop.
I did not care if I was bothering those around me, did not care if Bambi Jo wanted to crawl into a deep hole, never to return. I was manic with glee, overjoyed, shaking with self-appreciation and lusty laughter. Oh, it was good. So good, so right.
I continued on with my appalling behavior until the very last song, and I do not regret it one bit. Why, even Bambi Jo came around and laughed in spite of herself. My daughter triumphed over the sick sensation of having her mother lose her mind in public, and actually thanked me for being her biggest fan, said I was cool. Her friends thought I was cool.
I am cool.
As sung by Mrs. Baldwin’s Fourth Grade Chorus:
Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
when you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route Sixty-Six.
(doodly doodly doo doo waa)