Monday, February 18, 2013

On behalf of all tall people, if you don't like standing behind us at concerts: tough luck

I saw this comic strip thing today, and it's actually very good.  It's about the annoying things people do at concerts (ie: why I quit paying money to go to shows in my late 30's).

I'd point to number 5, "The Sun Blocking Giant" and I thought I'd clear something up.

The world was built for smaller people.  Most of you are those smaller people, and I appreciate that most of you attend shows and expect to basically be within a certain height range.  I know you think that there's some great advantage to being a bit taller, but in a world that mostly relies on your ability to be a jerk in a board room or your ability to manage java code to get ahead, being bred for being the lynchpin in a goon squad of some barbarian hoard doesn't really pay off so much.

I was 6'3" by the ninth grade, and somehow put on two more inches by the end of my freshman year of college.  I didn't measure myself in between.  Tall people don't really know nor really care about how tall they are.

Since I was a kid, I also like(d) live music and attending shows.  I live in Austin.  It's sort of a thing here.

The average bar in Austin that would host a show (let's say, Liberty Lunch or La Zona Rosa) had three zones:

1.  The area right by the stage with the cow-eyed fans pressing up against the stage because that made them bigger fans and let them sing the lyrics right back at the singer's face.

2.  The mid-range where most everyone else stood with elbow room enough to hold a beer and still lift it to their face without putting out someone else's eye.

3.  The place in the back where, for reasons that baffled me, people would huddle and shout over the music, like it was a huge inconvenience that there were all these speakers blaring music when they'd come out to this music venue for a quiet night of conversation.  Also, they're usually trashed.

The cartoon bemoans:

5. Sun Blocking Giant  This dude (again, mostly dudes) is the reason they invented big and tall stores. We're not talking a little tall here. We're talking Andre the Giant tall. Like, when he stands in front of you -- which, naturally, he will -- he blocks out the sun. You're very cognizant of this because, well, not only is he towering over you, he's essentially casting a shadow on the entire crowd. Somehow, though, despite all this, he's completely unaware of his giant status and chooses to stand in front of you -- all of five foot nothing who sits on a stack of phone books just to drive.

I accept that my height and width place my physical self between you and the show you want to watch, a bit like the Earth eclipsing the Moon's view of the Sun.  I also am not a @#$%ing idiot, and I know that's a problem.  And, you know what?  Tough @#$%.  Find somewhere else to stand.

I'm over 6'0", so cartoon rules dictate that I'm a blithering nincompoop
Only at club shows are tall people considered a second class citizen, as reviled as the guy drunkenly fondling strangers or the guy holding his iPad up to record the show.

Yes, I shop at Big and Tall shops.  This isn't by choice.  There's an implication here that this bozo big guy somehow went way out of his way to be taller than you and he's clearly doing something wrong if he has to go to a specialty shop.  I assure you, whatever moment of frustration you may feel about having to maybe move slightly one way to the right or left to see the band...?  Multiply that by 1000 for every time all he wants to do is buy a shirt for work and has only the limited offerings of the big and tall shop to pick from.  Now account for how he thinks about that for every single thing he wears.

I spend a lot of time at the movies, at plays and at concerts where I'm seated awkwardly, throwing my back out so I don't block the view of the unfortunate jerk who landed seats behind me.  I genuinely feel bad for these people as, unlike at the club show, they're stuck.  They've got nowhere to go.  My pumpkin-sized noggin is going to blockade their every attempt to see what's going on in front of them, and all I can do is curl into a tiny ball in seats made for, apparently, malnourished children, and hope I can see and that I will still be able to stand when all this is over with.

God bless stadium style seating, because it's actually solved a lot of the seating issues in many venues.  However, most places with rock shows are relatively flat, which leads to the height complaint, but, here's the deal...  Short person: you're basically suggesting the only place I should be allowed to stand is either in the back of the club or somewhere outside the club (ie: somewhere where your view, and nobody shorter than myself will have their view obstructed).

At shows, I like to plant myself early, before the headlining act, and just stay there.  If people line up behind me, well, more's the pity for them.  But my height does not, contrary to belief, give me telescopic vision or astounding powers of super hearing which will serve me well when I think of your needs and go stand somewhere behind the bar.  Like you real humans, I'd like to enjoy the show from a fairly intimate distance and not stand in the back with the drunk people screaming to each other.  This, however, is someone's idea of fairness and a trumped up idea of how I'm thoughtlessly blocking your view.

No, I thought about it, and you made a stupid decision choosing to start off a show standing behind the guy who was "blocking the sun".

As much fun as I find rules about telling people where they can and can't sit or stand based on their biology, being tall is my burden to bear, just as yours is whatever is wrong with you that tells you to go back for beer eight times during a two hour show, lean against me while you make out, shriek to your friends about your day and that thing Charlene said that was just outrageous during the ballad and then cackle like a crazed rooster, light my shirt on fire with your cigarette, whip your shirt around so it hits people in the face, or hold your phone up to record the show for the entire show...*

Wait, those are all things that you can choose not to do if you're not an inconsiderate jerk.  My choice is to stand about 1/2 way back and off to the side as a general rule, so most people don't need to worry about their line of sight and we can all see and hear the show.  You MIGHT have to step two feet to your left, and I'm very sorry about that.  Again, I promise to hold very still.

What I won't do is go stand in the back because you have inferior genes.

My recommendation:  don't assume, as this cartoonist has, that the big person is unaware of what is happening.  He knows.  Every time he gets on an airplane or tries to take a bus, or walks through a low doorway, or tries to fit in most cars or tries to buy a t-shirt...  this person is well aware of their size.

That person paid for a ticket, and assuming he HAS to go to the back of the room says something pretty ridiculous about how you need to be catered to.  So, you know, step to the left or the right, and if the person is standing there politely enjoying the music, live with it.

And if they are talking or otherwise behaving badly, well, what are you gonna do, shrimpo?


*yes, all of these things have happened to me at least once


Simon MacDonald said...

Listen tall guy don't try to take away the one venue where us short folk can bitch about your height, instead of our lack of, without sounding like heightists.

J.S. said...

Don't get angry- just laugh at how short everyone else is and pat them on the head.