Quiet Desperation

The sound of disapproval leads to personal removal

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted 7/25/17

To boo is not taboo. To boo is human.

But what's the point? The point is to express disapproval when there are no other options.

You are at a Rockies game, and the opposing pitcher throws to …

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Quiet Desperation

The sound of disapproval leads to personal removal

Posted

To boo is not taboo. To boo is human.

But what's the point? The point is to express disapproval when there are no other options.

You are at a Rockies game, and the opposing pitcher throws to first, to hold the runner.

You boo. Why?

An opposing coach or the manager walks to the mound to talk with the pitcher.

You boo. Why?

"It's tradition."

Or maybe it's because the guy next to you is booing, and the guy next to him is booing, and the guy next to him is booing. There is something about a collective that validates individual behavior.

Do you laugh in a comedy club because something is genuinely amusing, or do you laugh because others are laughing?

"Others are laughing" is the theory behind one of the most despicable, condescending, demeaning artifices of television.

The laugh track. If it has one, I don't watch it.

Booing, audibly expressing a thumb's down, has been around for a long time.

If the court jester came out and said, "Take my wife, please," he could have and should have been yanked from stage right by a long-handled hook, amid elderly tomatoes in the air at his head. Along with boos.

In the coliseum, a thumb's down may have meant that you were to become a lion's kabob, Bob.

The etymology of "boo" dates from 1738 Scotland, when a writer named Jacob Curate used it as a word to scare children. Thereafter, ghosts picked up on it, and so did the children in Arthur Radley's neighborhood.

When baseball came along, booing took on a new connotation. You're not really trying to scare the Cubs or the Tigers, are you?

I have yet to boo. I am waiting for the perfect moment. Actually there have been plenty of perfect moments already, if I believed in booing. But I don't. As you know by now, I disapprove of many things. Booing seems senseless.

I have this forum, however, and that enables me to boo, as it were, without booing.

But what if you are at Coors Field, and the umpire clearly misses a call at the plate? Should you accept it as a consequence of an imperfect system of judgment, namely that a human being made the call?

Or should you join in with the throaty drones and boo?

Booing, ultimately, is a waste of time and energy and vocalization, except as a momentary catharsis.

There is something called Crowd Behavior that embraces booing, and can lead to taunting, and even racist and sexist remarks. Crowd Behavior is one of the reasons why I no longer attend. That and endless phoning and photographing.

Do you go to a ball game expecting to boo, and pack a few boos along with your binoculars?

I have stood in front of coffee prices, and I have wanted to boo.

I have seen flip-flops on airplanes, and I have wanted to boo.

I have heard puns, and I have wanted to boo. Such as the photo caption, "Reese with her spoon, and Reese without her spoon."

Booing is not for me, and lips that touch boos will never touch mine.

(Maybe you can explain to me why "boo" doubled turns into that wound on your big toe.)

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net

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