The News recently ran an article about Emily Post's worst nightmare. A 23-year-old woman stabbed her aunt several times for talking about her table manners. I kid you not. The woman stabbed her aunt in the wrist, upper chest and shoulder. The article ended with this statement, "We're not sure if the woman was slurping her soup or chewing with her mouth open."
Clearly the young woman's reaction was extreme, but the point is taken: Table manners, concert etiquette and some very basic displays of consideration seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate from our society.
This summer, I invested (at $50 apiece, I can use the term invested) in two tickets for the James Taylor concert. Taylor is a 50-year-old folk singer from New England. I was elated at the prospect of a cool summer evening under starlit skies, the air filled with the soft sounds of "Shower the People" or "Carolina in My Mind." Well, prospect is all it turned out to be.
My sad experience started before the show had even begun. A mother carrying her baby was trying to get through the crowd. I stepped aside to let her pass and 10 women jumped in front of me. I politely tried to return to my space when out spewed, "No! I was here, now you just get out," from the woman who was behind me seconds ago. I was shocked. I looked at the next female and the next -- they were all immovable.
Outside the amphitheater were masses of people to maneuver through. By the time I reached my seat, I had a cigarette burn on my hand and my arm. I don't even smoke.
The concert was well under way when the entire row in front of us arrived. They shouted to each other. They hopped up and down, trading seats for the best views. They said words of apology that were as sincere as saying "I'm sorry," while you repeatedly stomp on someone's foot. I had to read the concert review in The News to know that I had attended a great concert.
Below is a list of seven simple reminders to alleviate some of these travesties and help every concert experience be a more pleasant memory. I'm sure the well-dressed and expertly coiffed crew of 30- to 50-year-olds who were seated in front of me had just sort of forgotten the rules of proper etiquette. This will be a refresher.
1. Seating: Take your seat on time, if possible, and stay there. If you are late, enter between songs. The performers deserve that respect.
2. Swilling: If you are imbibing, limit the amount. Stay upright and steady, with no slobbering and stumbling.
3. Lining up: If you are in a line, be courteous. Move when someone needs to get through. Don't cut in front of anyone.
4. Talking: If you have come to the concert to catch up on news with old friends, go home, please. Another wonderful option is to listen to the concert and chat at intermission.
5. Smoking: Even outdoors, step to the side with that lit weapon. In a large crowd, it just isn't safe.
6. Buddy contact: If your friend is sitting in the row behind you, five seats away, don't try to communicate audibly with him. Never lean over people you don't know to give your friend a sip of your beverage.
7. Cleanliness: Always shower and put on just a dab -- not a dousing -- of cologne before any concert, indoors or out! Have mercy on those around you.
NANCY ECKERSON lives in Akron.
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