A couple of Christmases ago, the second grade classes at my school went to see an abridged adaptation of the Nutcracker at the Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta. Before the ballet began, a rather peppy man played rousing Christmas tunes on the big old pipe organ there and I clapped along to the music, having myself a merry olde tyme. Eventually, I noticed that I was just about the only person clapping.
My students certainly weren’t clapping. They were too busy checking the bottoms of the seats for old chewing gum and pretending to have to go to the bathroom. My young colleagues weren’t clapping either. They were checking Facebook for status updates on their new-fangled phones.
That’s when I realized that I was officially and certifiably old.
Since then, I’ve begun clapping to all kinds of music in all kinds of places, but the place I like to clap best is all by myself in my easy chair as I watch TV. I clap when I hear the theme music on Friends re-runs, but, then again, who doesn’t clap to that? Even the Friends themselves clap at one point in the song. My current favorite clapping tune, however, is the theme from Property Virgins on HGTV. It requires a kind of syncopated clapping, or what I like to call Advanced Elderly Clapping. Whippersnappers are not equipped to perform AEC; they just don't have enough life experience. Nor do they have the necessary gnarled digits.
Since I live in a small condo with a shared outside entry, I do wonder what my young neighbor thinks when he arrives home from work, with plans for his evening in his Blackberry, a twelve pack under his arm, and me happily clapping on the other side of my door.
But before my neighbor or any of my young friends or family members snicker derisively about how pitiful (yet rhythmically gifted) I am, I need to inform them that the good news for me (and for them too at some future point) is that I am, at my advanced age, just as happy, and in some cases, even happier than I was back in the day when I was chasing the perfect tan, the good-enough man, the cutest shoes, the newest diet, and the American Dream.
Nowadays, what I have is pretty much what I want and I no longer feel the need to make my mark on the world. All I'm chasing these days are my current interests, what I'm going to eat for my Early Bird Dinner, and that new Kraft Philly Cheese commercial with the perfect beat for a spirited clapping session.