Dean Poling: Standers to the front of me, sitters in the back
Apr. 29—They would not sit down.
They would not stand up.
The man thought of the old Stealers Wheel song, "Stuck in the Middle with You" as he looked at the woman beside of him, then looked again at the people in front of them and the people behind them.
Though the band on stage was not Stealers Wheel and the song being played had nothing to do with "Clowns to the left of me / Jokers to the right / here I am, stuck in the middle with you."
Still, a paraphrased chorus of the Stealers Wheel song echoed through his head.
The couple directly in front of the man and the woman would not sit down, though everybody else around the couple were sitting. The couple blocked the view of the man and the woman.
The people in the rows behind the man and the woman seemed to be mostly folks in their late 60s to 80s. They would not, maybe could not, stand for a long period of time.
So, the man and the woman sat in their seats so they would not further block the views of the people behind them but the man and the woman could not see the center of the stage because of the couple that refused to be seated like everyone else around them.
The man looked at his wife and thought: Standers to the front of me / Sitters in the back / Here I am stuck in the middle with you.
The concert had been great, at first. When the band took the stage, everyone stood, whooping, cheering and applauding, with the opening notes.
Everyone, at least everyone, in front of the man and woman, stood throughout the first song. So did the man and the woman. It was their first concert in a while.
"I forgot," the man said to the woman, "the seats don't really matter. Everyone stands throughout the concert anyway."
But at the end of the first song, everyone sat down. So did the man and the woman, reluctantly. Everyone but the couple directly in front of them.
The couple kept standing. A double figure of a couple, side by side, though just regular-sized folks, loomed like giants, blocking the view of a wide portion of center stage.
The man and woman could see only the musicians on the left and right wings of the stage. The man looked behind him, no one was standing, especially the older folks in the next row back. He looked back at the stage — backsides of the standing couple.
In between songs, a person behind them yelled for the standing couple to sit down. The female member of the couple kind of looked behind her; the male of the couple — who looked like a hip old man internet model for a beard oil company — defiantly stood his ground, whispering to the female member that she should continue doing the same.
The man watched the standing couple with growing frustration. The first rock concert in ages and he felt he could not stand unless he wanted to join the standing couple in being jerks to the people behind him and he could not see the show because of the standing couple.
"Who doesn't take a seat when everyone else sits down?" the man said to his wife.
"Yeah, but who wants to come to a rock concert and sit down?" the woman said, nodding toward the standing couple. "Who can blame them for standing? You're right. They are being jerks. But they're actually doing what you're supposed to do at a rock concert. I imagine the band would appreciate seeing people standing, swaying and dancing, than look out at a bunch of people just sitting there. The band feeds off that energy."
"I know," the man said, "but what about all of the people behind us? They may not be able to stand up."
"Oh, I know," the woman said.
Out of frustration, the man yelled, "Sit down."
The old, hip beard dude and his companion did not budge.
And so it went for several songs. Great music but the seated man and woman's view blocked by the standing couple.
Until, at last, during a slower paced song, an unfamiliar song, the standing couple, finally, settled into their seats.
The stage view opened like a revelation to the man and the woman and the people seated behind them.
For about eight beats, everyone remained seated, until the unfamiliar song rolled into the familiar opening notes of one of the band's mega hits.
On cue, everybody stood. At least everybody stood in front of the man and the woman, which gave them the excuse they needed to return to their feet.
The band played one mega-hit after another. People remained standing, the view to the full stage remained clear.
The man and the woman did not sit again. Neither did anyone in front of them. Many of the people behind them also remained standing.
They whooped. They cheered. They swayed back and forth and clapped their hands to the rhythm of the songs.
Standing is the way to go at a rock concert, even if people did get a ticket for a specific seat.
Still, lesson learned. Next concert, forgo the assigned seat and wander into the festival seating area where people can stand and dance for every song, no matter the standers to the front of me or the sitters in the back.
Dean Poling is an editor with The Valdosta Daily Times and editor of The Tifton Gazette.