I was enjoying a gathering of seasoned singers the other night when an amazing duet brought the house down. Without realizing it, I suddenly found myself out of my chair and up on my feet – right along with the rest of the audience, applauding and cheering.
Other performers on that stage sang and sang well, but that one special duo was the only entry whose sweet song lifted cheering spectators involuntarily from their seats, smacking their hands together in approval – a classic standing ovation.
The occasion involved singing, but baseball could just as well illustrate such a tribute. I speak of the home run. Your team (at bat) is behind 4 to 1 in the bottom of the ninth and your batter (the worst dufus on the team) is at bat with two strikes.
Just as you start sobbing and giving up all hope, that lucky dufus whacks the ball over the fence. You and everybody else, in one unconscious move, jump to your feet shrieking with joy, not even realizing what you have done until your sanity returns.
Something similar occurred when that gifted pair of singers warbled their hearts out the other night and triggered a spontaneous ovation. Most of us in that crowd didn’t even realize how we had ended up standing.
I know it’s not unusual for people of my advanced age to forget where we left our keys, let alone how we came to be sitting down one moment and standing the next. An incredible singing performance or a well-hit baseball can light up the happy elements of a person’s brain.
I was once dragged to a New York ballet by well-intentioned friends. At first I didn’t understand much of what was going on with all those toe dancers bouncing around the stage like bony butterflies. But all of a sudden, a male dancer didn’t just dance onto the stage; he leaped, really high and far, a dancer and an athlete rolled into one.
The crowd was electrified, almost joining the dancer in the leap like a Seattle Seahawks running back. You don’t have to know anything about football, baseball, singing or dancing to recognize somebody is really good at his job.
Not all standing ovations are deserved – especially if driven by stage mothers and fathers.
To stage parents, a child is born perfect. However, that’s a stretch. Most of us were born beat up a bit from being pushed unceremoniously into the world through Mom’s kid maker. Most of us have gone through life without a single ovation. But that doesn’t make us useless.
Don’t expect stage moms and dads to learn. You can go to a play and, capable kids or not, those parents won’t leave the audience alone. It is common for parents of unfinished kids to stand there urging others in the audience to join in an unearned ovation.
How does that happen?
It happens when careless parents undermine the teaching of their kids by praising them to the skies before they have worked hard enough to excel. These are the sort of families who would give every kid a first-place trophy, earn it or not.
Even with giddy parents, many a kid can grow up and eventually earn ovations and trophies. But bear in mind, the kids who rise the highest in sports and in show business are the ones who work the hardest and practice, practice, practice.
As for me, just one more time, I’d like to try for a home run if you would take me out to the ball game. I don’t expect an ovation, but at least buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
Contact Bill Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501.