Saturday, April 17, 2010

Your Humiliation Will Be Televised

Today marks the annual Thunder Over Louisville, an enormous Derby event that includes an airshow over the Ohio River and one of the largest pyrotechnics displays in the continental United States. The television coverage begins early and continues throughout the event until the last firework has been deployed, usually a lightshower effect off one of the bridges late at night.

A few years ago, I was watching the telecast with my parents, when the roving camera pulled up a tight shot on a very tall man in the crowd on the Belvedere. Before I could even say, "Hey, that's the guy I'm dating," a small blonde bounded out of the crowd and picked a piece of imaginary lint off his shoulder. The look of sheer adoration on her face told me everything that I needed, and did not want, to know. I emitted what is best described as a howl of wounded rage and retreated to my folks' guest room in tears. Not an entirely mature response, but it was all I could manage in the face of that gross level of humiliation.

The next day, he valiantly lied to me for about ten minutes during an online chat, until I couldn't stand it and typed, "You were at Thunder." It was phrased as a statement, not a question. He fell silent for a couple of minutes and then typed, "Yes, I went with a friend who was visiting from out of town."

Ah, yes, your friend, I seethed. "The little blonde. The TV crew caught you on camera- I was watching it with my parents."

The one thing that has stayed with me from the rest of that exchange was when he added, "I'm entitled to want what I want." My reply: "So am I," and I logged out. So much for that, and to Hades with him.

I'm not really a crowd person. I'm short enough that I get shoved around and stepped on quite a bit, and I was almost trampled a few years ago during a stampede at a public event. Even though I love fireworks, between my fear of crowds and the negative assocation with Thunder, I will never go. It's one of the largest, most complex, and lavish fireworks displays in the country, and if you can stand the crush, it's one of those things that everyone (except me) should see in person at least once in a lifetime.

As for me, you'll understand why I don't even watch it on TV.

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