Finding My Inner Woo

Last Saturday I went to New York City for the second weekend in a row. On the 30th, Lisa and I went to the “Savage Beauty” exhibit of Alexander McQueen haute couture clothing at the Met. It was phenomenal! Definitely well worth all the time that we spent waiting in line for it. I’m glad we saw it eight days before it’s closing date, because the typical 2-1/2 to 3-hour wait was nothing compared to the six-block line of people waiting just to get into the museum on the show’s penultimate day. Absolutely crazy!

I walked past all those people on my way to and from a few other museums—the Guggenheium, the Neue Galerie, and Museum of Modern Art—last weekend when I was back in Manhattan to volunteer for the Nautica New York City Triathlon. (And also to have ice cream with an online friend on her birthday.) Faithful readers might remember that I entered the lottery to compete in this event last November but didn’t get picked. But I was promised that if I volunteered, there would be a spot waiting for me next year. Caroline, who seems to be my athlete twin, and I picked up our volunteer T-shirts and credentials Saturday afternoon in Central Park along with a few hundred other people. Our job (Caroline and mine) was to cheer triathletes running up 72nd street from the Hudson toward Central Park.

People who know me might be surprised that I would volunteer to do crowd control and/or cheer, but anyone who knows Caroline knows that, because she signed up first, we would be all about the cheer-leading. Friends, I don’t woot or scream or whistle or really do anything that looks like cheering. Sure, I’ll clap with the best of them, and I’ll yell out encouragement to people I know when I see them running in a marathon, for example. But I was fairly convinced that men can’t actually “woo” until Mary reminded me that Stephen Colbert does it all the time. I guess it’s just me; if I were a dog, I would be a basenji.

Would this be the weekend where I finally “wooted,” issuing forth a nonverbal rebel yell to express my appreciation for the awesomeness of the group that I wanted to be a part of, all while pumping them up to push even harder and succeed even more awesomely? No.

Believe me, I tried. I think a loud “YAAAAAWWW!!” wound its way out of me on one occasion [1], and there was the tribal, mantra-like “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” I shouted to a couple of appreciative elite women. But mostly I had a steady rotation of encouraging phrases: “Looking good, guys! That’s a great pace! Keep it up! You’re doing great! Nice work! Excellent job! Way to go! You can do this! You rock! Looking great! Awesome job!” And of course, I gave more-or-less personalized encouragement to the women and men who had their names or the name of their charity on their tops. In fact, I did enough shouting and cheering over three hours to have my voice crack like a preteen a few times and to sound on Monday like I’d been nurturing a two-pack-a-day habit for a couple decades.

When it comes right down to it, though, I couldn’t overcome whatever barrier I have to the loud, high-pitched cheer.

But that’s okay . . . because I had a COWBELL!

1 — One of those primal cheers was for a blind amputee, if I remember correctly. That’s hardcore. We could hear him coming for several blocks as a cascade of cheering rolled up 72nd street. [Back . . .]

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2 Responses to Finding My Inner Woo

  1. Lisa Mather says:

    I think you have no inner woo for the same reason that you are Captain Understatement. Dar said it best…”Way back where I come from, we never mean to bother. We don’t like to make our passions other people’s concern.” Excessive displays of emotion are bad, m’kay? Either that, or you’re a puritan.

  2. Dennis Mather says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I don’t like to yell, (or woo), either!

    Congrats, on doing well in your tri-athalon. Have you thought about the annual Hy-Vee one in Des Moines?

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