Ladies and gents,
When I was a tyke, the thing that I first fell in love with about the theater wasn’t the singing, or the dancing, or the acting. It wasn’t the epic stakes or the roaring laughs. No, what really made me swoon was the curtain call. Even if a show left me cold — and many did — I adored the ritual of paying tribute to the hard-working company by clapping, hooting, and cheering. Sure, the Brits may sniff at us for leaping to our feet as if our seats are outfitted with electric buzzers, but I think it’s utterly charming how eager we are to show our appreciation.
Well, Broadway is shuttered for the time being and large gatherings are off the table, but New Yorkers have found a glorious new reason to stand and cheer. Every evening, at 7:00 p.m., the city around me erupts into an ovation the likes of which I’ve never heard. The applause is for the brave men and women risking their own lives to save others: our frontline healthcare workers.
I’ve heard the naysayers, and I understand the gripes. It’s true, no amount of clapping is a substitute for adequate personal protective equipment. That these heroes are forced to perform their jobs without basic supplies is a scandal and an outrage, and we need to do everything we can to find solutions. But that fact doesn’t make our nightly salvo an empty gesture. I say it’s all the more reason to take this opportunity to tell them that we care.
And, when the cheering quiets down and your windows are closed tight, consider making a donation to your local hospital, or perhaps to an organization like the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, whose COVID-19 Response Fund is earmarking money to support these frontline healthcare workers. We can, to quote every Member of Congress ever, walk and chew gum at the same time.
I promise you, no matter how cynical you are about public displays of appreciation, this is a ritual worth taking part in. So, I look forward to hearing you from my window at 7:00 p.m.
Until then, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!