You may remember that several months ago I complained about people clapping after an airplane successfully lands or after a movie ends at a theater. I received thousands of questions/complaints about my comments – some supporting me vociferously and some standing staunchly steadfast that they should be allowed to clap at whatever the heck they want. One gentleman even took me to task for NOT clapping at the end of a movie. He stated that by NOT clapping I’m not showing any respect for the directors, producers and actors. I casually mentioned to him that those three groups of people, collectively making approximately 3.1 kazillion more dollars than I, couldn’t hear me applaud, couldn’t see me applaud, and really couldn’t care less if I put my two hands together in a repeatedly rhythmic pattern.
Now I have another complaint about applause. But this time, I found the Holy Triumvirate of annoying behavior. I’ve deemed this technique that I observed this weekend the “Aww-Chuckle-Clap Syndrome.”
We decided to go down to the zoo in Washington, DC. My wife had heard there were baby-everythings walking around all willy-nilly and it seemed to be a nice day. We didn’t see the baby lions. We didn’t see the baby Giant Panda (named Poo-Poo or something like that) and we didn’t even see the baby naked mole rats. But I went to the zoo dutifully knowing that I would find plenty of blog fodder. I anticipated that I would be writing a blog about all of the fathers suddenly becoming wilderness experts for their children, explaining how the cheetah walks a certain way because he’s trying to avoid the dangerous neffi-neffi berries that are scattered around the African savannah. However, I found something even more blog fodderish. I found the “Aww-Chuckle-Clap Syndrome”. And now that it has been ‘discovered’, you will never ignore it again.
So we’re wandering around the zoo, looking for non-existing babies – when it was determined that the orangutans were about to walk over the main zoo path on a couple of wires. Fine. Good for them. If I could do that and avoid all the annoying people below, then I would do it also. So here’s the old fella (I assume he’s old, but who the heck really knows) just sitting there waiting to go across the wires. By the way, don’t even get me started on how much he looks like a miniature skunk ape (also mentioned in a previous blog). For those of you stating that a skunk ape is just someone dressed up in an orangutan suit – look at this guy and tell me that he isn’t just an 8-year old boy dressed up in a skunk ape suit. Point proven.
Anyway – here’s the orangutan. I’m sure he had some sort of cool orangutan-like name, but I don’t know what it was.
Scene set – he’s just sitting there and decides to start moving across the wire in an orangutan-walking kind of way.
What does the crowd do? They let out a collective ‘Awwwwwwww…..’ in the exact same pitch and the exact same cadence. Because that’s what crowds do when faced with something apparently so cute that an exclamation needs to be made. Then, the orangutan proceeds to do this:
What does the collective crowd do? Every single one of them CHUCKLES knowingly at the hilarity with which the orangutan is swinging across the wire. Every. Single. One. Now, the denouement:
The full swing to the final landing on the other tower. The crowd? Bursts out into spontaneous applause for a job well done. Yes. They applauded an animal doing what he does every day. We also saw an elephant taking a VERY large crap – but not one single person applauded THAT. Oh – and don’t forget the knowing head shake while applauding. It’s as much a part of the ‘Aww-Chuckle-Clap Syndrome’ as anything else.
So I realize this all sounds kind of like not much of a thing – but if you add all of the three actions together into one single motion you’ll see what I mean. Go ahead, imagine yourself staring at an orangutan and let out an ‘Awwwwwwwww’, then knowingly chuckle, then knowingly clap while knowingly shaking your head back and forth.
So be on the lookout for this newly-found syndrome. It will hit you when you expect it least – but PLEASE don’t get caught up in the madness. Don’t do ANY of it except shake your head knowingly at the end. For you, my friend, have found the Holy Grail.