Rally Around the Tambourine Man

In a sea of seated people there was a man. A man standing with a tambourine. This man was my father.
Long before the crowd at the Chicago concert had enough alcohol in their veins to have them dancing and singing with abandon, my father was dancing and singing and playing his tambourine. Before the opening band finished, a bruise had already begun to appear on his hand from playing.
It was fun to watch. It was also fun to watch the reactions of the people around him. First they would stare, then they would smile and nudge the people next to them. At first, I think people didn’t know how to take him, but after a few songs they found themselves enjoying his wild passion for the show. It was contagious. I’m sure it bent the rules of concert etiquette, but by the “thumbs up” and high-fives he was getting, we felt sure people were enjoying both the show on the stage and the show in the seats.
Except someone didn’t understand. Someone didn’t realize how important that evening was, and how innocent and wonderful it was to watch Dad let loose and play his tambourine like it was the last day of life. Someone tattled.
An usher came up to Dad and told him he could dance, but he couldn’t play the tambourine. Dad tried to explain that he had permission from the band, but the usher said someone had complained.
We tried to figure out who had complained. As we asked the people around us if the tambourine was bothering them, they didn’t just say no. They said no, and we really want you to keep playing it. The gentleman behind us said if the usher came back, we should pass the tambourine back to him and he would guard it. Another person down the row asked dad to keep playing. The more the word spread that an usher had asked him to stop, the more indignant and protective the crowd around us seemed to become. No one seemed to want him to stop playing. They wanted to watch him having fun, because it rubbed off on them, too.
So Dad decided to keep playing. He played until his arm hurt and his fingers swelled. And I was glad, because the tambourine was more than just an instrument, it was an extension of my Dad’s enthusiastic personality. I was prepared to protect it, and I was proud that the crowd around us was prepared, too. They understood, and the night, like always, was a magical mix of music, family, a starry sky, and the jingle of the tambourine.