When's the last time you attended a live performance that did not culminate in standing ovation? Here in Wichita, I don't think it's ever happened. This city is charming in a lot of other ways, but the obligatory Standing O has become one of my pet peeves. You can be Pavarotti or one of the freak acts from American Idol, and people are still going to leap to their feet when the song is done.
OK, we're nice here in the Midwest. But standing up while applauding is about the highest gesture of appreciation an audience can bestow, short of women throwing their underwear. This is not something you award to any schmuck who walks by whistling Dixie. Doing so rewards mediocrity and makes the standers look like rubes, grinning bumpkins who are just real glad somebody decided to spend the night here in Punkin Holler.
I'm glad to see Miss Manners and I are on the same page on this: You reserve exceptional gestures for exceptional performances. You clap for everyone, that's just courtesy -- but you only stand up for the very best. If everybody gets a gold medal for showing up, then what's a gold medal worth? Treating both the mediocre and the marvelous as Special Olympics contestants doesn't help either of them.
Next week: Why getting killed in the workplace doesn't necessarily make you a hero.