It Hardly Matters

Friday, November 18, 2005


How can a 9 AM corporate quarterly meeting with no food be made worse than it already inherently is? Two words: overenthusiastic clapping.

Now I understand, as a corporate drone, that I must do my part to politely support whatever results, announcements, and other managerial hijinks (e.g., wacky PowerPoint presentations, digital videos of beaming employees, the playing of Outkast's Hey Ya!) are presented. So yesterday, when our bar graph towered over that of the competition's, and even when the new org chart was revealed, I contributed to the requisite applause with a clap that could be categorized as somewhere between the one used after a drained 3-foot putt on the 8th hole and the one used for my ex-boss's sister's band's performance at 7 PM on a Sunday night. A clap that can be summed up in one word: obligatory. Let's say a 2.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.

As I started drawing my hands back and forth, I expected a certain amount of noise (300 people, auditorium), but nothing could have prepared me for the woman next to me's clap. Besides being ear-splitting, it was wholly inappropriate. I'm talking a clap usually employed to try to get Pavorotti to come back for a third encore at the Met. I'm talking an 11.

Her hands seemed to hate each other. They smashed together with the determination of a caged bull raging against its pen, each crash of hands louder and more furious than the last. After the initial shock to my left eardrum, I looked over at her surprisingly small and delicate hands (white and veiny, held out and up, framed by the cuffs of a billowy polka-dotted blouse), trying to discover the secret to THE. LOUDEST. CLAPPING. EVER.

All I could make out was that her hands were slightly cupped (which improves decibel output--a fact even an amateur clapper would know). But I believe that it wasn't this cupping technique alone that created the jackhammering beside me. It was much more than that. I believe that this woman was experiencing rapture. I believe she so genuinely wanted to share her visceral responses to the corporate announcements (throughout the 2 hours, she emitted reactionary gasps, twitters of laughter, sympathetic ohs), that, when faced with the fact that she was one of many people in an auditorium, she chose the only way she knew she'd be heard in a blur of 600 hands: by clapping as loud as humanly possible.

I can categorically say, that nothing ever presented at a corporate quarterly meeting will illicit my overenthusiastic clap. I'm saving that for Stevie Wonder's third encore. That is, if I can still hear.


  • apparently i am a loud clapper.


    people make fun of me at basketball games...

    By Anonymous jason, at 1:13 PM  

  • Her hands seemed to hate each other.

    Ha! This is the best sentence I've ever read.

    By Anonymous saintpeg, at 11:24 AM  

  • This really made me smile, because I have a reputation as a very loud "corporate" clapper. I have been accused of over enthusiastic clapping at sales seminars, presentations etc to such an extent that many of my collegues try not to sit too close to me. Maybe we loud clappers subconciously think that being heard above everyone else is a quick fire route to promotion!!

    By Anonymous Michelle, at 5:16 AM  

  • There is a girl in my class at school called Jackie Hughes who can clap REALLY REALLY loudly. When she claps in class it sounds like gunshots and it makes everyone cover their ears. She says she has this special way of clapping and that she is the world's loudest clapper. I believe her!

    By Anonymous Lucy (16), at 5:54 AM  

  • Your little story really made me smile. My lovely wife, Maria, is only 5'2" and very slim but she has a clap that can bust eardrums. She,too,uses a cupped hand style of clapping which seems very effective. She can really annoy people around her when she applauds - I stick cotton wool in one ear if we go to the theatre or to a concert - her clap really is that loud!!

    By Anonymous Dave, at 11:13 AM  

  • Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on this clapping story! I applaud you all...loudly!


    By Blogger mega74, at 11:20 AM  

  • Reading this amusing blog and the resulting comments, it seems to me that it is the fairer sex who have taken over from the men when it comes to clapping loudly. Having ones ear drums shattered by over enthusiastic female clappers at concerts and ball games now seems the norm. I find this a rather recent development. Whatever happened to "polite female applause"?. Only a couple of weeks ago I was almost deafened by a rather pretty young lady sitting behind me at a concert, who had, without doubt, the loudest clap I have ever heard. It was quite amazing. Is the "skill" of clapping loudly something which now part of a young ladies education?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:06 AM  

  • On the subject of clapping, I am a high school dance/ music teacher, and last year our school was lucky enough to have a visit from a professional Spanish flamenco troupe to give flamenco lessons, demonstrations and a superb evening performance.
    During the afternoon, one of the Flamencas, a very pretty, dark haired young lady in her early twenties gave a lesson on how to do "palmas" (hand clapping) to myself and some of the older girls. She demonstrated the different styles of clapping, from quiet to the loudest (palmas fuertas).
    I was amazed at just how loudly she was able to clap. Her "palmas fuertas" was so loud that several of the girls had to cover their ears, and I felt physical pain at the sheer volume of noise she generated! She then showed us the technique used to clap so loudly.
    Bend the left arm at the elbow, cock the left wrist and slightly bend the fingers of the left hand so as to form a slight hollow. Partly cup the right hand and cock the wrist. Then "slap" it into the left hand very quickly, so that the fingers hit the palm of the left hand, the right palm curving over the heel of the left hand.
    This sounds quite simple, but takes a great deal of practice to perfect. The shape of both hands and the exact position of the impact are critical. Once the technique is mastered, and the "sweet spot" found the sound produced is incredible. I have to admit that I have practised this technique over the last few months and have doubled my clapping volume. My family and friends are rather impressed by my new "skill", and are amazed at how loudly I can now clap.
    I hope this little tale hasn't bored anyone too much!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:20 AM  

  • I must tell you about a woman I work with. She is a big lady in her early forties, tall and well built with enormous hands. She likes to clap them in the workshop, which is rather echoey, so as to make a deafening bang. It sounds like a car back firing or a loud firework. I have never heard a clap anywhere near as loud as's awesome. She uses cupped hands and the noise is so great it makes the windows rattle and the whole room sort of "zizz" for a few seconds. She is really proud of her amazing clapping ability, but everyone else finds it very annoying.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:54 AM  

  • I read this blog with more than a passing interest, as my lovely 15 year old daughter, Rebecca, has just recently learned a new "skill" from her friend at school called "the loud clap". Apparently this is quite popular, especially with the junior girls, and involves cupping your hands at exactly the right angle then banging them together as hard as you can. When done correctly it produces a massive reverberation which can be quite ear shattering in a confined space like the kitchen (or a classroom). Just why she should want to clap so loudly escapes me, but then I am only her mother.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:50 AM  

  • I appear to have been "blessed" with the ability to clap very loudly..a somewhat mixed blessing. My parents have told me that even as a little girl of 10 or so my clap was deafening. I can honestly say that I have never met anyone with a louder clap than me. I don't really try to make a lot of just happens. It must be down to the way my hands fit together! I find it impossible to clap quietly, making a loud sound even when I clap gently. I find this "ability" very useful in my work as a middle school teacher, but it can be embarrasing, especially for my husband and children who are always telling me "please don't clap too loudly, mum". I am only average size (66 inches) and my hands are pretty average size, but I have lost count of the number of times people have commented on the volume of my clapping. I often get looks of amazement and disbelief when I clap really loudly, and have, at times, caused annoyance to people around me...for which I always apologise. I suppose I am just one of natures "loud clappers" like the lady in your story.
    Thank you for reading this


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:44 AM  

  • Reading your little tale of "corporate over enthusiasm" made me a similar thing happened to be recently. We have a monthly meeting of all the sales team. We had a new salesperson start in January...Judy..a tall, very attractive, divorced brunette in her mid thirties. At the sales presentation I somehow managed to sit himself next to her, as we seem to have "hit it off" so to speak.
    Anyway, after the sales director finished his little pep talk everyone starts to applaud...I think the term is a "golf clap"..polite but not derogatory....a 3 or 4 out of 10 if you like. Everyone that is, except Judy, who, like your crazy colleauge, weighs in with a good 12 out of 10. I thought WW3 had started!!! My eardrums (and those of the rest of the people in the room) were very nearly shattered. Several people looked at her, but she didn't seem to take the hint. After every speech or presentation she would let rip with the loudest clapping in the history of sales presentations. My poor eardrums were still ringing the next day!
    I must admit I am having second thoughts about asking her out to dinner.....I wonder if her ex-husband now has to wear a hearing aid!!

    Long live the golf clap.

    Steve the Salesman

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:50 AM  

  • Hi. I'm Hannah and I'm 27, and work as a "professional clapper". Like Jessica I was blessed with the ability to clap extremely loudly and have used this "gift" to full advantage. Wherever there is a need for applause there is work for me...TV chat shows, quiz shows, political rallies and speeches and even in films where applause is required. Listen carefully to the applause on any TV show and you will hear several very loud claps at the begining which act as a "starter" for the rest of the audience. That is the "clapper" who is employed to start the could even be me!!
    The only skills required are a very loud clap and good sense of must clap at PRECISELY the right moment.
    I have also used my clapping skills on several music albums where a heavy clapping beat was required.
    The only disadvantage can be sore hands when you have been clapping solidly for what seems like hours during rehersals...I rub surgical spirit into my palms to harden them. works!!.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:34 AM  

  • Had to laugh. My best friend, Sarah, has the loudest most obnoxious clap ever. It is ear splitting and sounds like two lumps of wood cracking together. She stiffens her hands and bangs them together, like praying! She has tried to teach me how to do it but I don't seem to be able to master it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:02 PM  

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