ANN BAILEY: What's wrong with this picture?

In spite of the fact, or maybe because, I have no musical talent, I love listening to people who have an aptitude for singing and playing instruments.

Ann Bailey
Ann Bailey

In spite of the fact, or maybe because, I have no musical talent, I love listening to people who have an aptitude for singing and playing instruments.

When I was younger, I didn't think anything of driving to Minneapolis or Winnipeg to attend concerts. For me it was worth the time and money to see my favorite musicians up close.

However, as I grew older and had children, my time became occupied with their activities and it also was difficult to justify spending $100 or more on a concert ticket. That amount could buy a lot of baby diapers and food, and later in their lives, clothes and marshmallow cereal.

Besides, I reasoned, the musicians usually sound a lot better on compact disc than they do live, and I can listen to them in the comfort of my own home.

All that said, though, I recently was pleased to have the chance to attend a music festival. Ellen, my daughter, who recently completed treatment for leukemia, was invited to be an honored guest at a country music festival, and the rest of our family joined her.


The night we attended the festival several artists were featured and we got to meet them all and Ellen received autographed CDs, photos and T-shirts. The people who organized the event were wonderful and made sure that every detail was attended to. We appreciated their efforts to make it a super-fun weekend very much. Meanwhile, all of the singers and their band members were friendly and gracious and treated Ellen like royalty.

Not a class act

Unfortunately, some of the singers' fans were not as classy. As the evening wore on and the amount of alcohol being consumed increased, the behavior of those people declined. By the time the main singer walked on stage, they were, to put it bluntly, drunk and obnoxious.

We learned firsthand how being inebriated changes people's personalities (At least I hope they don't act the same way when they're sober) when we returned from getting some food and found a group of women standing in front of our chairs. When we politely told them that the chairs had been reserved for us, they told us the old classic line of "I don't see your names on them."

Their behavior went from bad to worse from that point, as they stood in front of us so my sons couldn't see the singer. Though, the women were told by security guards to move a couple of times, they ended up right back where they were, smack dab in my sons' line of vision.

If they had stood still, it would have been bad enough, but the women had to sway to the music and ended up falling over chairs and spilling beer on my younger son.

No defense

I'm glad to say that my sons were appalled by the women's behavior. One of them thought the women should be arrested for being inebriated and smoking. I told him that they weren't breaking the law, so they couldn't be arrested, but that I agreed they were exhibiting bad behavior. I also told him that I hoped that in a few years he would still remember how disgusted he was about the way they were acting.


While I tried to be charitable toward the women and remind myself that they were just having a good time, I really resented the fact that they were disrupting my family's good time. It's one thing to have fun, but quite another to ruin other's enjoyment of the concert in the process.

I also couldn't help thinking, "What were they thinking?" That thought really was foremost in my mind when the women were trying to get the singer's attention by grabbing at his legs and mooning over him. They were at least old enough to be his mother, so I'm pretty sure he wasn't interested in any of them.

Moreover, from what I've read about the musician, he's very conscious about being a good role model for young people. He had a bottle of water to quench his thirst so obviously he wasn't into the stronger stuff, at least not when he was on stage.

Ratcheting it up a notch

I am not naïve enough to think that the behavior of the women was unusual. In fact, as I told my son, their behavior actually was pretty mild compared to other concerts where fans have broken through barriers and jumped on stage or have thrown things on stage.

One of the challenges of parenting in this age is that people don't have a sense of what's appropriate. There's something wrong with the picture when 11 and 13 years olds are aware of the standards and the adults are the ones violating it.

While I believe that parents should be their children's primary teachers, it definitely helps if other adults also model behavior that they can look up to. So if the women who were standing near us were embarrassed when they recalled the events of the previous night in the stone-cold sober light of the next day, in my opinion, that's a good thing.

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