by Jon Santiago
It never fails. At some point every Spoleto season, you'll hear somebody protest that they were conned, hoodwinked, bribed, coerced. They wear long faces. They fidget in their seats. They make sure everyone in earshot gets the picture: "I did not want to be here! This is not my idea of a good time!" Okay. Got it.
I call them the Mewling Kitten People. (MKPs, if you don't want to let on that you're talking about them.)
Their outbursts can happen anywhere. But some events are particularly fertile soil for them. Any ballet is a good bet. Dance, in general. Performances whose titles include any words that are not in English. "Modern" dramas. And seriously quirky stuff. (Remember "Good Cop, Bad Cop?" Remember those Scandinavians acting like dogs and cats, lolling around a minimalist set? Yeah, you do.)
If you study the intrusive, grumpy types, two enlightening things emerge.
One is the percentage of converts at the end of the show. The same folks who couldn't wait to be gone get up from their seats with a smile on their face, start chatting away like they own all the oxygen in the room. "Did you see when —" and "How 'bout that —" and "I mean, wow! I never thought —" I love listening to the converts. Happy kittens are cute as hell.
The second thing is the demographic profile of the offenders. The typical source of all this bitching and whining? Grown men. And boys under the age of 12.
Draw your own conclusions.