On what the cool kids seem to have been calling “NYE,” Death’s Head and I got dressed up, walked around the block to the Kimmel Center, and took our seats in the auditorium to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra perform.
I’ve come to care very little about NYE over the years. After ninth grade when I spent the holiday alone in my bedroom flipping between Armageddon and MTV’s countdown to the song of the year (they crowned “The Boy is Mine” by Brandy as the winner, for inexplicable reasons), I quickly realized that the holiday was overrated.
So DH and I were really in our element at the Kimmel Center on December 31st, because there were no other pesky young people pre-partying. In fact, the audience was 90% people over sixty-five and 10% people younger than sixty-five but older than sixty-two, according to my super-scientific estimations. I didn’t see even one person wearing cheap sunglasses made out of the number 2013, nor a soul drinking something nefarious from a brown paper bag.
There were a few downsides to the makeup of the audience, though. One, our seats in the conductor’s circle were, from beginning of the show to the end, bombarded with the farts of our neighbors. Look, it’s probably impolitic to talk about farting at the orchestra, but, in my opinion, it’s even more impolitic to, you know, fart at the orchestra.
Downside number two: The Russian couple sitting next to us had VERY IMPORTANT things to say to one another during every single song. And just when you thought they were done chatting, the fur-coat-wearing one would rummage loudly through her purse, presumably looking for more conversation fodder. And they rudely ignored our blatantly angry willing-them-to-shut-their-borscht-hole stares. [By the way, I lived in Russia, so I can refer to the mouths of rude, loud Russians as "borscht holes" if I want. Six Russian winters have earned me the right!]
But it wasn’t just the Russians – everyone around us had some terrible tick that conspired to drive us crazy. Some couples waved aggressively at their friends half-way across the auditorium at completely inappropriate times. It’s like they just couldn’t wait until intermission, because maybe by the intermission they would be dead, or perhaps they were frantically taking credit for their broken wind. Others kept leaning over the banister of the conductor’s circle to get a better view of the percussion section of the stage, during the performances.
But maybe you want to hear about the performance? When we weren’t driven to distraction by the unnecessary chatter around us, we had a lot of fun. The Philadelphia Orchestra conductor was a joy to watch – both because he was handsome and because he exuded enthusiasm for his work. He definitely played to the audience and they loved him, which made me love him slightly less because we were surrounded by jabroneys, and I cannot bring myself to agree with jabroneys.
As the Verve would say, “It’s just a bittersweet symphony, this life,” and in this specific case it was a real sweet symphony made bitter by the smell of farts.