TexasEscapes.comWe Take Texas Personally
A Texas Travel, History & Architecture Magazine
Towns by Region
Ghost Towns
State Parks
Historic Trees
Gas Stations
Water Towers
Post Offices
Old Neon
TE Site
Site Information
Recommend Us
About Us
Contact TE
 Texas : Features : Humor : Column - "Stumbling Forward"
Suffering from the Clap
by John Gosselink

I've previously noted that people who clap at movie theaters irritate me. Doesn't make a lot of sense, unless you're going to start, while alone in your house, clapping for books you like, paintings you appreciate, or if you make an especially good grilled cheese sandwich, give yourself a standing ovation.
Alfred. E. Newmanlink
Our society has lost any semblance of reserve, what little we've ever had. Whatever the circumstances, whatever the venue, whatever the audience, we just do it. Applaud, that is. We have to be the clappingest people in the history of the world.

As with most social movements, or as in this case, digressions, the trend starts at the top. Apparently, all the power our elected officials in Washington have garnered has made them applause mad. These folks have started this trend of clapping for no apparent reason, and then their bovine colleagues (with porcine spending habits and lupine political ambitions, if you're feeling Latinate) follow the hand slapping herd and the next thing you know, you've got a full blown standing ovation because someone sharpened a pencil.

You think I'm exaggerating? Just watch the State of the Union address coming up shortly. I like to watch this speech to see what kind of state our Union is in, see if there is anything I can do to help out, if there has been some war or something I didn't hear about, that sort of thing. It's good to check in every once in awhile. But the darn speech lasts an hour and a half. Why? Applause.

The actual text in a president's speech takes 47 seconds, then an hour and 29 minutes of applause breaks. Our Chief Ovation Receiver can say anything he wants, and that big room full of expensive suits and bad toupees launches into applause, regardless of party, ideology, or what special interest group controls them, just because they don't want to be the one party pooping representative sitting on his hands. If you're not fakely exuberant, you're not trying.

"My fellow Americans, I'm proud to announce that I found my keys (4 minute standing ovation)… They were under the couch (2 minute ovation)…. While down there, I also found a button (5 minutes of applause, accompanied by "huzzahs" and "cheers').. .. And I'm happy to report that our great nation now officially has the highest ratio of people to squirrels in recorded history (monstrous applause, tears of joy, and Tom Delay and Hillary Clinton take their tops off and start giving each other back massages.)

We, the people, have got to show a little more clapping restraint than our elected leaders. I've previously noted that people who clap at movie theaters irritate me. Doesn't make a lot of sense, unless you're going to start, while alone in your house, clapping for books you like, paintings you appreciate, or if you make an especially good grilled cheese sandwich, give yourself a standing ovation.

There's also no need to clap at restaurants, even, or especially, at theme restaurants during birthday songs sung by excruciatingly perky wait-staff. When presenters say, "please hold your applause until the end," hold up, even when it's your kid being acknowledged, otherwise we're going to be there all night. And if you are ever in doubt why you're clapping, stop.

We also need to refrain from sarcastic clapping, which is rampant in high schools. Some poor schlep drops his tray in the cafeteria and the entire student body breaks into loud applause, so not only does he have a mess to clean up (hopefully, the nice cafeteria lady will let him get some more Salisbury steak and creamed corn free of charge), but he has to also do this embarrassing little bow and pretend he is not humiliated to the point of running away and joining the Basque Separatist Movement.

Okay, I was that poor schlep on a weekly basis, so that applause was an especially painful sling and arrow. Luckily, the Basques didn't have a lot of need for goofy, uncoordinated guys who can't even carry a lunch tray, let alone plant a car bomb, or I'd be in a Madrid prison right about now fighting Pablo over the last rat for supper.

The place we most need to get rid of applause, and this one is going to get me in all kinds of trouble, is in church. Our recently retired pastor, a good man in every sense of the word, is very traditional and old school about the sanctity and solemnity of the sanctuary and the service. Me too. I've found myself quite fuddy-duddy at an early age.

That means I think there should be no clapping during the service, which presents quite the quandary. Our church incorporates a lot of young people making beautiful music in the service. If this was any other situation, I'm clapping my fool head off. But during that hour on Sunday morning, it just seems unseemly to applaud.

So a little girl finishes her glorious piano piece, there's that little pause, and then the applause starts and I'm the only one sitting on his hands.

"Look at that mean man over there not clapping. What's wrong him and his black heart. Can't he see that little girl overcame her fears of public performance, practiced for months, and played her little heart out. He must be evil, yep evil. I bet he dropped his tray in high school, that ol' Basque terrorist wannabe. Why doesn't he go back to his 'lovefest' and leave us good clapping people alone."

Squelching unnecessary applause has become my life goal, despite the personal trauma it may cause.. But there is a bit of a problem. If I ever succeed in this quixotic quest, how will people show their appreciation?

Damn this ironic, Twilight Zone type, poetic justice!

©John Gosselink
April 22 , 2004
Privacy Statement | Disclaimer
Website Content Copyright ©1998-2004. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: April 22, 2004