Back in the mid-60’s dancing was not a freestyle sport. Little “ladies and gentlemen” attended dancing school to learn the basics of ballroom dancing. Girls wore party dresses and boys wore blazers and neatly pressed pants. Both boys and girls wore white cotton gloves, a sort of “hand mask” so the kids didn’t spread germs. Kids learned the basics of ballroom dancing so that they could attend formal parties and proms later on. The teacher had a special way to control the crowd. Read more!
There was more todance class than party clothes and gloves.
When you first entered class, you encountered “Miss Tepper.” She was a frail-looking woman with blue-rinsed hair in an old-fashioned style. Miss Tepper was probably only in her 50’s but the kids in elementary school, she looked ancient. Girls executed a curtsey to Miss Tepper, the boys, a formal bow. The girls and boys in Miss Tepper’s class came from two private schools: one for boys only, the other for girls only. Naturally, there was a lot of chatter as it was the only time that the girls and boys mixed.
Miss Tepper’s Special Weapon:
Miss Tepper needed some ways to control the hooligans who didn’t always use an inside voice. She had a special way to control children in such a gentile way. Miss Tepper didn’t raise her voice or scold. She didn’t even speak.
Her “special way” to control noise and out-of-control kids was a pair of wooden castanets that fit in the palm of her hand. Just one click of Miss Tepper’s castanets and all heads turned towards her. Two clicks and we were silent. If we got out of hand on the dancefloor or the boys started to miss it up a bit, those castanets went click click click! No one dared misbehave after three clicks.
It might be a bit Pavlovian, but her special weapon to control us, worked. Maybe it’s time to get out the castanets when your kids get too noisy or out of hand in a public place. At least it is better than yelling to use an “inside voice.”
Which brings me to the second part of my post.
The other night I went to dinner with some friends in an intimate restaurant with small dining areas, tablecloths, beautiful crystal wine glasses, and a romantic atmosphere. The company was great. The food was great. But there was just this one thing: a man in another area with a voice like a foghorn. He was so loud, we couldn’t converse at our table. He was seated with what may have been a long-suffering wife, and another couple. The other three people were reasonably quiet. No one at his table suggested that he tone it down.
Mr. Foghorn’s voice rose above everything else. We learned about his prostate (and other body parts). We discovered his love of pizza and his favorite place to eat it. Mr. Foghorn didn’t like some sports teams (I forget which). But he liked the Beatles. We learned about his nephew’s divorce and someone’s skin cancer.
Foghorn and his party were there before us, and we assumed he’d eventually leave us in peace. But no! Mr. Fogohorn’s table ordered after-dinner drinks and lingered long after they were finished. We had paid the check and Foghorn was just getting up…to go to the Men’s room (he announced it so we knew).
It would have been rude to go over to the table and ask Mr. Foghorn to tone it down several decibels. But wasn’t it just as rude of Foghorn to bellow in a public place about private things?
If only I’d had Miss Tepper’s special weapon.
The world would be better off if we were all reminded that we are surrounded by others.
I’m thinking of getting some. How about you?