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Opinion >  Column

The Slice: When staying awake is a family matter

Back in February, The Slice shared readers’ stories of falling asleep at concerts.

One who admitted nodding off while the music played was Idaho reader Helen Rock. It seems classical music sends her to slumberland. “Yes, in public,” she wrote.

The solution? She stopped attending orchestral performances.

Simple, right? Not really.

You see, Helen’s daughter-in-law, Jessica Lee, is a traveling concert violinist. And she will be a featured soloist this weekend as the Spokane Symphony opens its new season this weekend. Which makes Helen quite proud.

So it seems natural to ask Helen. What are your plans?

“My husband and I will be going to the Saturday evening concert, trying to stay awake,” she said.

And on Sunday she will be babysitting her baby granddaughter, Cora.

Perhaps the excitement of seeing/hearing her daughter-in-law play will be enough to keep Helen wide awake Saturday. But just to be sure, here are a few steps members of the audience can take to help Helen stay alert.

1. Ask any unknown woman seated next to you, “Are you Helen Rock?”

2. If the woman next to you answers in the affirmative, inform her that you are going to be watching her like a hawk.

3. At the first sign of drooping eyelids or a nodding head, lean over and say “Helen! Wake up!”

4. On the chance that the person seated next to Helen also feels a tad drowsy Saturday night, other members of the Spokane Symphony audience should provide backup alertness monitoring. Wait for moments when the orchestra is not playing and then call out to Helen, wherever she might be.

“Helen! Jessica is about to perform. Look alive!”

5. A member of the orchestra who plays a brass instrument could be designated in advance to occasionally hit a discordant sour note. You know, a loud BLAAAAT that would wake anyone in the audience who might be drifting off.

6. Those in the concert crowd could keep a beach ball aloft by tapping it all around the theater during the performance. Perhaps that might reduce the tendency to nod off.

7. Add a rousing sing-along number to the symphony program. That might keep Helen, and everyone else for that matter, bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

Here’s hoping everyone has a splendid, wide awake time.

Today’s Slice question: If nicotine could be added to our atmosphere, would cigarette smoking have been redundant this week?

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email What would it take to get you to go to the fair?

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