Thursday, June 19, 2008

Getting the good kind of clap

During this year's presidential parade of candidates, I must confess I sometimes didn't listen to the speeches. I watched the crowd. Fascinating!
At first I searched for and counted faces of color. Then I studied concentration, to see if they were there just to be there or actually followed the cadence of their candidate. Sometimes small groups would waver or shutter like grass in the middle of an otherwise still crowd.
But then, I noticed something really different: almost every person has their own way of clapping.
Back in my teen years, I deliberately decided to clap with my hands slightly cupped and crisscrossed in order to produce a louder sound. Nobody else on the planet probably intentionally stylized how they would clap their hands besides me but I experimented until I got the right sound. Now, it's second nature to me and hasn't changed in 40 years.
But there, during somebody's rally, I watched and counted about eight different ways people clap. There may have been more but I started being creeped out watching other people so I stopped, but here are some examples:
*one woman lightly, daintily tapped her hands together like she wanted to participate but didn't want to offend
*one man almost seemed to be wristwrestling with himself as he pulled back his right elbow and repeatedly jammed one palm into the other as if to punish his exuberance
*another woman clapped her hands together as though they were cymbals, complete with retreating circles
*another kept her hands in close proximity and clapped vigorously like a speedy game of Patty Cake
There are more but I have to look away now, except to say I wonder if people's clapping styles mimic the way they live their lives....

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