How to be in an Audience

February 11, 2012

Us parents of teens have a lot to keep track of.  We are done with potty training and lessons on sharing, and hopefully the kids know how to pick up after themselves and to brush their own teeth.  But now we need to be ever aware, looking for openings to talk about sex and drugs, making sure our kids aren’t showing signs of depression or bullying or other increasingly common teen maladies. We need to balance how we ride them about studies v. how much we want them to grow up to be balanced people.

And, I am sorry, but in light of technological advances, we also need to teach our teens how to put their fucking cell phone down.

Jesus H. Christ.

I went to a play last night at the high school. Lemon went, too, but she went with a friend and was sitting several rows in front of us.  We didn’t have a kid in the play, although several kids we’ve known since they were wee and others we know more recently were in the show, and we were excited to see them.  We were also excited to just sit back and enjoy the production, because the school is known for putting on a good show.

We aren’t too picky about our seats, but we do know that when going to a high school show, it’s best not to sit in the back because that’s where groups of teens sit together and pretty much do NOT watch the show.  So we found a seat in the middle of the auditorium, and were mostly surrounded by adults.  Including the director of the show, who was directly in front of us.

Just before the show started, two little chippy girls climbed over the back of the seats next to us and plopped themselves down.  Of course, we would have let them in, had they asked, but I guess climbing was fun. They chittered and chattered, and the one right next to me kicked me a couple of times.  She also yelled ‘STEEEEEEEVVVVVEEEEEEE!!!” to a boy (I’m guessing he was named Steve) across the aisle from us.  This happened very close to my ear.  I gave her a dirty look, but she was too busy grinning at Steve to notice.

I feel I need to say – I’m not a curmudgeon.  I’m not too old to understand the pull of technology.  While we waited for the lights to go down, I was playing Temple Run on my iPhone and texting with Mouse. But when the lights went down and they (one of my favorite 10th graders, actually) told us to turn our cell phones off – and explained that cell phone use and texting is distracting for others in the audience – I turned my cell phone off and put it away.  Imagine?

The 16yo next to me did not turn her phone off.  She dimmed the screen.  And proceeded to text throughout the entire show.  I think she was texting STEEEEEEVEEEEEEEEE because she would often crane her neck to look across the aisle and laugh in reaction to her latest text.

She took some breaks from texting.  In order to talk to the friend she was sitting next to.  Not whisper, but TALK.  And laugh.  The director of the show turned around 3 times to shush them. They didn’t notice, though – because they were laughing and talking too loud.

I kept thinking about saying something. Alongside my fantasies of “dude, you have been talking and texting through the entire show, why don’t you just leave?” was the fantasy of my daughters’ faces contorting in horror. But there came a point somewhere around the midpoint of the show when the chick switched from text to Facebook on her phone that my tongue was no longer controlled by my thoughts of devastated daughters:

“When they said that using your cell phone during the show was distracting to the people around you – they weren’t kidding.  It’s not a matter of ‘getting caught,’ it’s a matter of being respectful to the people around you.”

And the look of devastation ended up a reality. The girl looked at me in complete surprise and simultaneous horror, and shrunk in her seat.

But after that, she didn’t text once. She fondled her phone a good bit, but didn’t activate it.  She did still talk to her friend, but only in whispers (certainly about me).

I wish I said something sooner, because it was only after I did say something that I could enjoy the show.

I spoke to my girls afterward.  Lemon assured me she would NEVER use her phone in a show, and I believe her.

A few weeks ago, Lemon and I went to NYC to see How to Succeed in Business on Broadway.  It was her birthday gift (back in September).  We had to go in January, though, because that’s when Darren Criss was performing. She was horrified at the behavior of some of her contemporaries. She was upset with people for talking, for yelling out during the show, for breaking the rules and taking photos, for texting, and for leaving early so they could rush the stage door.

And Mouse is perfectly capable of leaving her cell phone behind when she’s going to a movie or a show (sometimes it infuriates me, because I can’t reach her if I’m not with her).

But I certainly took this opportunity to reinforce to them that it is RUDE. That when they are at a show, they are not the only people in the audience.  If they don’t want to focus on the show, then they shouldn’t be there.

I guess, really, this has nothing to do with technology or cell phones, but just simple respect and appropriate behavior. The girl proved with her laughing and talking as if she were in the cafeteria at lunch time that it didn’t require a cell phone for her to be disrespectful and rude.

Hopefully my comment to her will save future audience members from having to endure this almost-woman’s wretched behavior.


One comment

  1. I am so glad you said something to that girl. Hopefully, she learned a life lesson and it will stick.

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