'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
YES, THESE SEATS ARE SAVED
There are some statements you just hate to hear. For example, when your teenage daughter walks up to you, arm-in-tattooed-arm with a 30-year-old biker, and announces, “Daddy, Crusher and I are really in love!”
Or when your boss—who has never called you into his office—calls you into his office and begins the conversation by saying, “Don’t worry, I’m sure many companies will want to hire a talented guy like you.”
Or when the doctor says, “The tests just came back from the lab. Have you updated your will lately?”
Recently I discovered there is another statement equally as painful. It’s when you are heading off to some public event and a friend or relative calls out, “Oh, save me a seat.”
No big deal, right? Wrong! First, whenever someone says, “Oh, save me a seat,” they really mean, “Oh, save us some seats,” because they are speaking on behalf of themselves, the relatives who are driving in from out of town, and if your teenage daughter is attending, Crusher and a few of his pals.
No matter what the event—a ball game, school assembly, movie, banquet, dance recital, church function—if there is not assigned seating with numbered tickets, you are in big trouble.
You arrive for the event somewhat early, while there are still good seats available. You carefully survey the room, trying to make the right decision. You don’t want to choose seats which are too good as you might have to engage in hand-to-hand combat to hang on to them. You don’t want to choose seats which are way in the back, because your friends and relatives will complain, “Why did you pick these seats?” But most of all, you must choose a block of empty seats which can accommodate all the people who are counting on you.
So you pick a row of seats or an empty table with enough room for everyone. As you make your move, you notice three other early seat savers heading for the same spot. Adrenaline surges through your body. You walk as fast as possible without actually running, hip-checking to the ground any small children who get in your way.
As you arrive at the seats, a half-step ahead of your also fast-walking adversaries, you want to clearly claim the seats, but subtly enough so everyone else in the building does not turn and stare. You do this, if it’s a round table, by diving spread eagle on top of the table and screaming, “MINE!” Then you spend the next 20 minutes laying there muttering, “Yes, these seats are taken,” while wondering why they made the centerpieces out of bamboo shoots and whether the blood seeping from of your abdomen will permanently stain your good suit.
If the seats in question are in a theater-style row, you claim them by diving straight out, like a swimmer at the start of the 100-meter freestyle race, stretching your fingers as far as they can go in one direction and your toes in the other direction, and again screaming, “MINE!” If you are fairly tall, you may be able to come in contact with six or seven seats. While holding your Superman pose, you repeatedly squeak, “Yes, these seats are taken,” while wondering if your friends and family will offer any sympathy since the metal armrest on which you landed turned you into a permanent soprano.
There is one other option, if you prefer emotional pain to physical pain. Go to the event early and don’t save any seats. When your friends and relatives, after standing in the back of the room for the entire program, angrily demand, “Why didn’t you save any seats for us?!!” you shrug and say, “Oh…I forgot.”
The emotional pain of their wrath will hurt for a while. But on the bright side, no one will ever utter that dreaded statement to you again, and you can focus all your energy on dealing with the statements from your daughter, your boss, and your doctor.
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