The new rudeness, part two
Miss Anthropy, your tickets are ready

Madeleine Page
Senior Correspondent

There was a truly deeelightful couple: she a menopausal bottle blonde with six too many vodka screwdrivers under her belt. All bright red nails and screeching laugh.

He hairy of chest, toupéed of head, a cowboy booted, medallion-sporting Lothario. A middle-aged overweight Saturday Night Fever wannabe. You know the type: biped birth control. Puts you off the thought of sex for weeks. Or days, anyway.

He and she were new to one another. Each intent on impressing the other. His strategy was to Explain Jazz. Hers was to Follow Along Breathlessly.

They stood by the metal crowd-control fence. He wore several large gold rings and demonstrated his mastery of rhythm by tapping on the metal barrier. Loudly. Off the beat.

By this I don't mean that he had mastered the art of syncopation: his endless noisy tapping always managed to more or less approximate the beat, wandering occasionally into time (about every 24 taps, by my irritated calculation), but usually fractionally off.

She in response waved her hips about in a manner I believe was supposed to be girlish and inviting.

Then she decided to demonstrate that she did, after all, know a bit about jazz. So she accompanied the singer for the next two songs. Well, more or less accompanied him. She was a quarter tone off and a quarter beat late for the entire performance.

They applauded hugely when those two songs were over. And talked and laughed for the next two numbers. Loudly.

Then they decided to get into some down'n'dirty funky stuff all their own. He began snapping his fingers and wobbling his beer belly and stamping his little curly toed foot not-in-time-to-the-music. She started clapping her hands, attempting to capture the backbeat. Defeated by that, halfway through a rather lovely quiet ballad, they resorted to playing pattacake with their open palms.

Enraged, I moved. And sat down behind an entire blanketful of talking fools. Who drank and laughed and knelt up to talk to their friends two rows back and discussed what they should have for dinner.

Is it my ever-shortening temper, or is the audience for the Jazz Festival getting worse mannered each year? We have the grab-a-full-size-chair-and-put-it-right-in-front-of-the-stage crowd, which is growing by leaps and bounds.

We have the giggle and chat and call out to our friends crowd, which seems to contain ever more Festival volunteers.

And we have the singalong crowd, bath time crooners every one, each of whom seems to be congenitally tone deaf and without adequate volume control.

Usedta be that the only real arsehole one had to contend with was the geriatric dancing fool who stands at the front stage left. I suffered a couple of times from his tendency to grab women and physically force them to dance with him.

I dealt with him two years ago by kicking him very hard in the shins with my nice firm Birkenstocks, and haven't ever had to contend with him again. Either he has a tic or he really does flinch when he sees me.

Oh jeeze, here I am blathering on about the Good Old Days. Anyone know a good vet who'd kindly have me put to sleep?
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