It appears that two stories in last week’s issue — Marvin Harold Cheiten’s Interchange piece on the brazen habits of cell phone users and Elaine Strauss’s preview of Boheme Opera’s “West Side Story” — merged with a bang last weekend for one of our editors. Having just just settled in to enjoy Graham Lustig’s superb Jerome Robbins-inspired choreography and Leonard Bernstein’s exquisite score, she suddenly perceived another soundtrack overwhelming Tony and Maria’s first lyrical duet.
What was that noise seeping into the auditorium? Was it microphone feedback? Was it the stage manager “calling” the show to the backstage technicians? As our editor slowly turned her head to the left, she realized that in fact, the woman behind her was in deep conversation — on her cell phone! The tucked head and hand furtively cupped around the phone did nothing to disguise her, for the blaring light of the screen and her voice, which she made little effort to conceal, gave her away.
Our dismayed editor shot the woman her best dirty look and said in a harsh sotto voce, “Please turn off your cell phone!” Here comes the best part. The woman looked up and, as if deeply bruised, said in an I-dare-you-to-dis-me voice all around her could hear, “You want to pay my cell phone bill?!” Our editor simply turned around in her seat and seethed for the rest of the performance.
There is nearly nothing more disrespectful and distracting than someone who thinks she is the center of the universe simply because she has the technology to talk to someone whenever and wherever she pleases.