Sunday, April 13, 2008

Radio killed the Rock and Roll Star

“Cubs score!” I imagine my son’s guitar teacher giving an enthusiastic fist-pump at the news as he hears it on the radio. During my son’s guitar lesson.

I laughed when Ethan told me the story, that his teacher was listening to the game during his 30-minute session. My husband chuckled too. “Okay,” we thought. “It’s opening day. Everyone’s entitled to a little Cubs fever on opening day.” Especially when the teams are in the process of tying it up in the ninth inning. Plus there were rain delays—which made the game continue on into hours that were later than usual—guitar lesson hours.

But then Ethan came home the following Monday and told me the game was on again during his lesson this week. “Just in the background, though. Not very loud at all.”

Hmmm. Now, it’s suddenly not so funny. Those guitar lessons aren’t cheap—the same price as two beers and a hot dog at the game.

I’m reminded of all the times I’ve been in conversation with my husband while the game is on the radio. Just in the background, though. Not very loud. I’ll be telling him I’ve switched to a new brand of green laundry detergent, the kind that’s better for our rivers and lakes, and from out of nowhere I get the enthusiastic fist-pump, the elbow jammed back alongside his waist. For a brief moment I find myself thinking, “Wow. I didn’t know he cared so much about our rivers and lakes.”

Of course, he doesn’t. Or at least not at that particular moment, the moment when Carlos Zambrano hit a sacrifice fly to advance the runner to third.

The only thing I think that might be worse than that Cubs fist-pump, is the fierce “Shh!” I sometimes get it in the middle of a conversation, when Pat and Ron are having a better conversation about a two-run homer in the fourth. My feelings get hurt every time. I mean, would I ever do that to him if he were telling me abut his day and Rachel Ray broke in with an especially enticing recipe for onion dip? No, of course not! But that’s mostly because I don’t watch Rachel Ray, or particularly care for onion dip. My point is, we all tend to shush each other. I do it when there’s news on the radio about airplanes or airlines. My kids do it, too. And actually in a much nicer way than my husband or I. “Wait!” they plea. “I just want to finish this level!”

But it all begs the question: Is having the game on in the background okay when you’re paying someone for their services? I don’t think so. I get visions of a society where people get shushed in the checkout lane at the grocery store or in heart-transplant surgery at the hospital.

No, I don’t think shushing someone is really ever appropriate behavior and the same for having the game on during a guitar lesson. And as much as I understand and sympathize, as much as I love my team as well, this means that, should my son come home from his lesson this week with the same story, I will have to call over to the music school and have a chat with the guitar teacher. Just as soon as the Cubs finish their at bat.