Three young men sit in the stands watching a hockey game. For the two seniors, it’s their final game at Conte-the last of many. Their conversation is resigned and detached-Boston College goes on to lose this game and faint worry is only just starting to set in. Mostly, the three young men make big pronouncements, each pronouncement anchored in the 20/20 hindsight of old age. They’re seated pretty high up.
“These are the best seats.”
“It’s like watching it on TV. See, we’re right next to the cameras.”
The second period is over, and “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” starts playing. Eyes turn to the jumbotron. The jumbotron kicks into high gear, and fiddlers of all ages sprout from their seats. Enough people forget the scoreline that a wave of energy sweeps across Conte, and we have our jumbotron to thank for that. The jumbotron shines the spotlight on a few excitable souls, and so enamored are they with their own image way up high that they wave to the jumbotron instead of the camera photographing them. People must know that looking at the camera would probably make them look less silly, but is it worth the expense of not being able to watch themselves? The jumbotron was created and continues to be loved because it offers us the chance to look at ourselves megabig-as big as we feel we deserve to be seen. The jumbotron giveth and never taketh. All it asketh is our undying attention.
The three young men spot the Fiddle Kid. “Look,” the two seniors groan. “I thought everybody loves him,” the youngest of the three says. But not everybody loves him. Conte hardly loses its mind over its beloved Fiddle Kid the way it has before. The seniors have theories.
“He pushes kids out of the way now. He doesn’t smile, it’s just ‘Look at me, I’m the Fiddle Kid.'”
“His parents did it to him. They started a Twitter account in his name. They’re cashing in on his fame.”
“All the fame went to his head, right away.”
“I think at first, most people would immediately try to get him accepted into BC if he ended up applying. Now, I know I would campaign hard against him not to get in.”
Soon the jumbotron turns to its prodigal son. There’s a group of young kids dancing for the camera, but here comes the Fiddle Kid, crashing his way to the front. The jumbotron projects what looks like a shove, and what looks to the three young men like the disinterested sneer of someone who’s been doing this for far too long. From high up in the TV camera section, the applause is muted. Some boos are heard. Fame has made him “insolent.”
The kid is eight years old. He has a Twitter account.
It all began innocently enough. These kinds of things do. Somebody does something special, and the crowd in all its appreciation showers him or her with praise. It makes that somebody “Somebody Special.” It cheers on his jumbotron moment, and so he gets more jumbotron moments. The crowd devours those moments, and so it demands more. And the eager jumbotron provides, harvesting Fiddle Kid and shipping him to the crowd as a consumable.
The saga of Fiddle Kid is the standard celebrity narrative, with fame as something engineered by an audience desiring a hero figure it can consume and then dispose of once the hero becomes self-aware. The jumbotron eventually moves on to another section, other fiddlers, looking for a different soul to steal. The jumbotron taketh.
One song later one of the seniors notices Fiddle Kid:
“Look down. He’s still fiddling. Alone. They changed the song and he’s still fiddling.”
The youngest of the three young men wants to write about Fiddle Kid. His friends who go to every BC hockey game aren’t convinced that people have turned their back on Fiddle Kid. “And you’d have to know a lot about him to know how he really feels,” one of them says. Maybe, maybe not. The kid that fiddles has a private life in the safe confines of a house somewhere. Fiddle Kid dances in Conte and has 650 followers.
“I saw what I saw on the jumbotron.”
We don’t know what the future holds for Fiddle Kid. We’ll have to wait for the next season to come out. Maybe he’ll come back more sullen, more weathered with age. Less “cute.” He won’t be what we want him to be anymore. Why should he give that to us? What have we done for him?
The jumbotron moved on from Fiddle Kid. Later in the song it settles on another fiddler. The kid absolutely shreds. He raises the roof. He goes off, goes in, turns up, whatever prepositional musical nomenclature you want to use. He’s adorably dorky and a natural showman-he caps his set off with a perfectly executed slide down the railing. And the crowd goes wild.
“New Fiddle Kid!” somebody shouts.
He continues to be a topic of conversation as we file out of Conte toward Lower. “He was the man!” “That slide was awesome.” We wonder if he’ll get renewed for another season.
Who knows, maybe he’ll start a Twitter. The kid is eight years old.