The last time Bert and I had coffee, I found out something extraordinary.
Bert made it a habit to get out of the shower to the sound of applause.
"People think this is dumb, but it's helped me in more ways that I can tell you." Bert said. "I had a portable tape player in the 70's, and I'd always put some kind of music at a concert, ones where I could hear the applause at the end of the song. I'd pretend they were applauding for me. Then, as the years went on, I shifted to CD's then YouTube, and I found applause records along the way."
"I could never act or carry a tune, but I always loved applause. My grandmother applauded for me over a card I gave her when I was six years old. I remember bowing from the waist and waving. She laughed so hard, and kept applauding. I guess that just stuck with me."
"I know this sounds arrogant or conceited or something, but I don't mean it that way. Something about the sounds of applause just did it for me. It is such an affirming, happy sound. It carries so much approval and enjoyment with it. Listening to the sound just elevated my mood. So I rack up the soundtrack on first thing in the morning. Now, as I towel off and put on my underwear, I turn up the applause track while I'm shaving and I say, "Thank you, thank you, you're too kind" into the mirror. I keep listening while I'm combing my hair, wave to the imaginary crowd in the bathroom, and I start my day."
"I've never told this to anybody. My wife knows, but it's because she walks by the bathroom in the morning. She just smiles at me and shakes her head. I smile back. Just kind of an understanding we have. My step is lighter, I keep my shoulders back, and I always leave the house smiling."
"Now I know why people go into acting. In part, it's got to be the applause. What a wonderful feeling."
Last year, Bert died after a long battle with cancer. At his funeral, his wife stepped up to the altar, went to the microphone and said the following:
"Bert and I had a secret, and it was his morning routine. Every day, while he was getting ready in the bathroom, he would put on a song that had applause at the end or just put on an applause record. He never went into drama, never got on a stage. But he loved applause. He would come alive as he strode out of the bathroom every morning. We'd just smile at each other. I'd give him a kiss and he'd be off into his day."
"I always had the regret that Bert never experienced applause in person. So I was hoping that all of you could join me in sending Bert into heaven with a short applause, for his spirit and for the morning ritual I'm so going to miss."
Collectively, those gathered in the church started to applaud, then rose, and gave Bert a long and very loud standing ovation.
I am sure Bert heard them, then waved, and took a bow.