From the 4-year-old who stops in the middle of his speech to wave and say to his parents, to the drummer who forgot to bring his drumsticks, to the star who forgot in the middle of her soliloquy and started all over from the beginning. School performances may have been some of the funniest, proudest, most unpredictable moments of a parent's or grandparent's life.
Like the time Zachary was a tree. No ordinary tree, a magnificent Maple, with strong branches and multicolored leaves. As the wind was blowing, all the other trees in the forests are bowing from left to right. But Zachary bowed to a different wind, from right to left.
And Nicole; shy, unassuming Nicole. The quietest of the group, never calling attention to herself, never looking for the spotlight. But you should have seen her in Mame. Give her a costume, and put one some make-up, and there's a complete transformation. The way she belted out that song, you would have thought she was on Broadway.
One of my most memorable experiences with a school performance was with my son's junior high school orchestra concert. They must have spent 10 minutes tuning their instruments. First a note or two from the trumpet, a few sour blasts, then a screeching violin going up and down some unimaginable scales. Drums banging rhythmically. When, I wondered, will they ever stop tuning and play something? And that's when all the tuning did stop, and there was a burst of applause from the audience, and the orchestra took a bow.
The first rule about attending a school performance is never to say anything remotely derogatory about any of the performers. I don't care if one of the dancers falls flat on her face. Do not say anything uncomplimentary because, sure as shootin', her parents or grandparents are sitting in front of you or behind you.
And to impress this rule upon you, let me digress a bit. My wife and I were at the Metropolitan Opera. The performance was Handel's Julius Caesar, and Julius Caesar is played by a countertenor. A countertenor has a voice as high as a soprano's. Sort of a male Maria Callas. Now in this opera, Julius Caesar has just returned victorious from one of his many battles. And in rejoicing over his victory, he opens his mouth to sing, sounding like ... Maria Callas.
"God," exclaimed my wife. "I hate countertenors."
"Keep quiet," I warned. "These are his parents sitting next to me."
What do you think the odds are? The Met seats 3,200. I figure 600 to 1 that his parents would be next to me, unless of course, Sandy was saying something uncomplimentary.