On Wednesday I guest judged a singing competition at a bar in Greenwich Village. It was the finals so there were only five contestants left. There were three sets in which each contestant sang one number.
There was one kid (anyone under 27 is a kid as far as I'm concerned), let's call him "Mort" (because it's one of the ugliest male names I can think of. No offense to anyone named Mort. I'm sure you're a great guy.), who I recognized but couldn't place. For his second song, Mort wore a shirt with the top few buttons undone and I could see the word "ego" etched across his chest in cursive. I suddenly remembered where I had seen him before.
When he finished his song, which was, by the way, a poor choice for his vocal type, I said, "Mort, I saw you yesterday at Shetler Studios." This didn't seem to ring any bells in Mort's wind tunnel of a head. "I was coming down a winding staircase carrying my son in his stroller and you were coming up the stairs and you seemed real annoyed by me." He gave me a look of stunned protest. "No, no," I said. "I get it. Strollers are annoying. Anyway, Mort, this song was the wrong choice for your vocal type. You have a more conversational sound that would suit musical theater songs. No one can sing everything. It's not a big deal. You just want to pick the right material." He looked a bit struck. I added that he had a nice voice, which was a lie, just to soften the blow to his "ego". The tattoo probably read, "I don't know why I joined a singing competition if my ego is this fragile."
When the third round came around the emcee announced that Mort was having a coughing fit and needed some time to recover. After two more singers went by the emcee announced that poor Mort's coughing fit had not abated and he was withdrawing from the competition.
Apparently the coughing fit was bad enough to make Mort drop out of a competition with a $1000 prize, but not bad enough to send him home or make drinking more vodka/cranberries impossible. I saw him at the bar twice after the show and both times when he saw me he began coughing dramatically, heaving his shoulders up and down like some silent film star in a movie about tuberculosis. Yes, we get it. You're "having a coughing fit."
I'll admit I felt momentarily bad for scaring someone right out of a competition. But two things allayed my guilt.
1) Mort had no chance of winning the competition. He was a mediocre singer at best. Honestly, he looked miserable on stage and it was hard to understand why he was putting himself through something so apparently unpleasant.
2) Fuckin' asshole not only didn't offer to help me get my stroller down a flight of winding, marble stairs, this motherfucker rolled his eyes and SIGHED when he realized that moving aside at the bend in the staircase, forcing me to blindly navigate the narrow part of the steps with a 20 pound child in a 14 pound stroller, wasn't going to work and so he had to (SIGH) walk back down the ten steps and wait for me to get down.
To bad for him the fucking Breeder he was so rude to was vastly more talented and professional then he and was going to be judging him in a singing competition the next night.
I'm sure I don't have to explain that the reason you dont roll your eyes, sigh, and stand uselessly aside when someone clearly needs help is because human beings shouldn't behave that way. It has nothing to do with who that person might be and whether they may be in a position to help you out someday. You help people in need because it's the right thing to do.
Besides, you never know, if you don't help them they just might publicly shame you into dropping out of a singing competition.
I hope you really needed that money, Mort.