Dear Man in Row G Seat 10,
Well, I guess I should start by saying thank you. If you’re reading this, you, in the vintage, washed-out Drink Coke tee, Row G Seat 10, might be thinking, “Thank you for what?” For ruining my 26th birthday, that’s what.
At a certain point, I stopped anticipating your nauseating, off-kilter, rhythmically neglected clap, and ended up anxiously pining for it. It was like the birthday gift my partner of three years forgot to get me, a presence in the room that wouldn’t go away. Since the second song of the concert you attempted to start a hey-we’re-all-in-this-together, campfire clap. You even had a few nibbles. A few fans in Rows C and L joined in.
However, it is worth mentioning, those fans’ claps were wildly off time from your initial clap; and now that we’re saying it, your initial clap was also incredibly off time from the 4/4 rhythm of the song. The only way to describe the sounds was as if my ears were eating a dissonant and cacophonous 26thbirthday cake. Filled with arrhythmic clapping, and devoid of any sprinkles.
Here’s the reality: We weren’t at a campfire. We were at a James Taylor concert.
And your clap didn’t bring fire nor did it bring rain. It didn’t bring Carolina to my mind either, but rather brought me to a space where no matter the song, if it was a folk ballad or a rock standard, I would be thinking, “When will Row G Seat 10 try to make this song about him, and have the entire auditorium join in with his clap?”
When Mr. Taylor sang “You’ve Got A Friend” and you attempted to bring your notorious clap to the somberly beautiful rendition, all I could think was, “You do not have a friend here, sir!”
I know you noticed my glances. Midway through the concert, in the midst of a lonely let’s-get-this-party-started clap attempt during the spoken word introduction of “Family Man”, I turned around. My vitriolic eyes met yours. You danced proudly, clapping, Coors Light sloshing in a clear plastic cup, the mountainous beer raised in my direction as if I was your friend Schmitty and our team just won the big game, cheersing me. Well, it almost caused my birthday Bolognese to make an encore appearance all over Row E.
After that was your slow clap. When that failed, I thought surely this nonsense must be over. Let us return to normalcy, living in a world where we don’t impose our concert clap on others. But after Mr. Taylor finished his set to a standing ovation came your boisterous “One more song” chant. James Taylor is 69 years old, and had played a raucous two hours. This wasn’t your chance to save the day, and inspire the crowd. The Baby Boomer audience was already restless, planning how to best maneuver the coat check system.
With an exhausted clip, Mr. Taylor slumped out to the stage. In that moment, your yelps and claps rang loudest throughout the auditorium. And as Mr. Taylor opened his encore with “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight”, my favorite song of his, I let out a little cry. Nothing could’ve topped that moment. But then you busted out your lighter, and waved it over your head. You even got your buddy to dispiritedly join in. A perfect birthday moment ruined by a little lighter fluid and a man.
Bless your heart, and your clap, Row G Seat 10. May you one-day lead a packed audience to one of your patented mid-song claps. But please, for the sake of my sanity, don’t let me be in the crowd for it. And don’t let it be on my birthday.
Fellow JT fan,
Zach, Row F Seat 7
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