Some people dread holidays. They find Christmas to be sad, Easter to be pagan, whatever. Others have certain anniversaries that cause them pain and apprehension - the death of a loved one, the day George Bush was elected (any of those days), and so forth. Still others hate birthdays, as they remind us we are a little bit older, a little bit hairier and a little bit balder, and a little less fun, all at once. But me, I don't dread any of those.
I dread talent shows. Those of you with children, you understand.
It is possible that the modern talent show is an example of the proliferation Lewis Carol's Dodo Bird in our society in which everyone wins and all receive prizes, because 80% of the "talent" that is demonstrated is just not. It's about at the level of "you put on your own socks! Good boy!" So it's possible that 30 years ago talent shows were fun, impressive events where you really wanted to be there, not just for your own kids, but for all the kids who made it into the show, because they really were talented. It's possible, but I doubt it. My personal belief is that talent shows have always been this bad, and that this is proof that there is a not very kind God. Talent shows exist, you see, so that the sinners have a chance to peek into one of the circles of hell and realize that it really is time to repent, isn't it. Yup, I think talent shows have always been a chance for the parents, instead of the kids, to build some character and even save their souls.
Now don't get me wrong - I have two very talented children, and I'm proud for them to show their talents to the world. And I suppose the whole auditorium or cafeteria or gym or cell block where they hold the talent show is just full of parents who think that very same thing about their kids. The only problem is, all those other parents are, and don't go tell them I said this, dead wrong. 80% of their kids are about as talented as my left middle toe. And you know what is special about my left middle toe? Absolutely nothing. It does what every other left middle toe in the world does, and not even a smidgeon more. Now there's nothing wrong with that - it's a perfectly adequate left middle tow. I'm happy with it! If it died, I'd miss it. But I don't feel a need to show it off. And I certainly won't allow it to sing to a captive audience, or hula hoop to a horrendous pop song, or tell jokes that no one would laugh at even if you paid them and threatened them with a gun at the same time. Or massacre Hot Cross Buns on the piano. Nope, I keep it in its sock, where it belongs. It's a good left middle toe, but you don't really need to see it, ya know? You see my point here?
But given that I have to go to support my own talented girls, I have a few suggestions for modifications for talent shows to make them, well, less terrifying. Some are obvious, but hey, they need to be said.
1. All talent shows should have a cash bar. This will accomplish many things. A) parents will be better able to sit and clap for the children. Drunk people will clap for anything. Even the crap at the show. B) parental suicide after the show (or during the show) will be less likely. C), and this is the most obvious part, it would make the school TONS of money. Where else do you have such a large crowd of adults, over 21, absolutely DYING for a drink, who are NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE? It's like selling ice water in the Sahara! You could charge $20 a beer and still sell out. I think this would help to reduce the need for a school levy as well. By the way, if they ever legalize marijuana, sell that too. Then the shows could even bu fun.
2. It should be an absolute rule that EVERYONE attending a talent show - student or parent or proud friend, MUST bathe before attending. Those rooms are small, they're hot, and they stink. They should just do a BO check at the door. Nuff said.
3. If a student wants to sing, they should have to demonstrate that they can sing better than a beagle before they're allowed on stage. It's not a high bar, but half the singing students can't make it over it. No amount of alcohol or marijuana can mask some of the sounds I've heard in a talent show.
4. This one is just to be honest. You may as well put barbed wire fences and armed guards around the talent show, to keep the parents in there until it's over. We all feel like they're there anyway. Many of us suspect that they really are. So just get it out in the open. That will also help keep the unsuspecting public out. You don't want some innocent soul without kids wandering in and getting exposed to all that talent unawares.
5. At the cash bar, if they also wanted to sell ear plugs, they'd make even more money. Way, way more money. Some people wear ear plugs at concerts to avoid hearing damage. Talent shows make you wish for hearing damage. They have made some people drive nails through their own ear drums.
6. I think it really only takes 1 minute to show true talent, don't you? I mean if David Gilmour had a minute to play guitar, I'd know he was talented in that minute. If Picasso had a minute to do a sketch, even though he wouldn't finish it, I'd get to see his talent in a minute. So all of our budding young talents out there should have a minute each to demonstrate their talents. And I wouldn't shoot them or anything if they went over their minute. I don't want to be mean! I'd just drop them into a pit below the stage and let their parents pull them out after the show.
7. And finally, instead of giving all the kids in the talent show a trophy at the end - give it to the parents. They've just completed a marathon far more painful than the grimmest trail run out there. They should get a medal. Take my word for it on this one. I've run a lot of marathons, and I've been to a lot of talent shows. I have felt sicker after the talent shows.