Show support, but don’t be obnoxious

Published 7:04 am Sunday, June 12, 2016

I sat down next my family and prepped myself for the long haul.

Just before the auditorium lights went dark, I looked at the never-ending list of dances and found my nieces’ two routines smack in the middle of both acts.

As the first dance in the recital began, so did the shouts from right behind me:

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“Yeah, girl!”

“Work it!”

“Woooo, yeah!”

I rolled my eyes, thinking she’d get it out of her system. But she didn’t. She was like the Energizer Bunny of supportive, “yea, girl”-like exclamations.

After a few minutes, I started keeping count:

Final score: 26 in act one and 16 in act two for a total of 42 overly supportive exclamations.


In the cult classic novel “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” 42 is the meaning of life. My experience with the number 42 doesn’t reveal much about the meaning of life — at least I hope it doesn’t. But it does say a lot about the need to be supportive and how quickly people can blow past the line and be way, way, way too supportive.

But let me get few questions out of the way quick:

1. Yes, I actually kept count, but I won’t swear to 100 percent accuracy. When the person yelling is right behind you, you have but a few options: 1. Turn around and make a scene, or 2. Use it as entertainment. I opted for entertainment. However, I only started counting after the first 10 minutes or so — which were some pretty active exclamatory minutes — and I conservatively started my count at four when it probably more. And my count of 42 didn’t track everyone else in the audience that shouted, “Go, [insert child’s name]” before most dances. It was one girl alone.

2. Yes, it did cross my mind that I could market a game or a drinking game off this for uncles, dads and the like as part of a survival guide for dance recitals, graduations and sporting events. But my brother-in-law pointed out this would be a very, very dangerous game. He’s right. After we’d reached 26 exclamations by intermission, I realized I’d probably be charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Maybe an online support group app would be wiser?

3. No. I know what you’re thinking: He just has something against dancers and loud people. I’ve been going to dance recitals for close to 20 years (my sister danced before my nieces), and I have many loud family members — I’m used to both by now.

Now I’m all for the need for be supportive and give praise and credit for handwork. If anything, I’ve realized recently I don’t give enough credit to friends, family and co-workers for the good things they do.

It’s become painfully clear over time that you’re going to get this yelling types at every graduation, dance and sporting event. You know them, they’re the ones with the blow horns at graduations, the ones berating the referees at ever turn at a sporting event or — worse yet — pushing the student athletes to hurt their opponents (sadly, this actually happens).

Think I’m exaggerating? I wrote a few weeks ago about my sister’s graduation. My brother-in-law, my three nieces and I watched her graduate from a TV feed in overflow seating. Guess what: We still had people shouting and cheering at the screen and sounding blow horns. I wanted to pause the feed, stand up front and go, “Really, people? We’re across campus from them. They can’t hear you.”

But still, people feel the need to let their support overfloweth.

Now, I’ll admit recent experiences have made me realize I probably don’t give enough support or credit or enough “well done, champs” to those around me. That said, 42 — about one every four minutes if my math is right — expressions of support in three hours is pushing it … a lot. That many “yeah, girls” and “work its” from the next row stretch your patience pretty thin.

By all means, be supportive and let people know you care, but maintain some semblance of respect and care for those around you, including the person receiving the support.

Many of this girl’s exclamations were directed at one young dancers. Did the girl really want that much praise and attention. I really hope not. If I were on stage or playing a sport and my family started shouting and cheering, I’d likely shout back, “I get it. Go, me! Please stop making a scene,” by exclamation of support No. 4. But that’s me: I don’t like attention.

So next time you attend a dance recital, graduation or sporting event, be supportive but limit your repeated praise. It’ll help maintain the sanity of those around you. Who knows, the person next to you may just be weird enough to make a game out of it and write a column about it.

In other news

Oh, and I’m pretty sure I’ve stumbled on the 11th commandment: Thou shalt play “Rockin’ Robbin” at every dance recital and pep band event.