Over the weekend, someone sang a weird version of "Stand By Me" to Donald Trump. It was terrible.
While being serenaded, Trump swayed awkwardly, arms unmoving. Ben Carson may not have realized that he was on stage, or that a person on the stage was singing, so he looked on sleepily, hands joined in the gentlest of claps. The serenader, unshaken by the response, pushed on.
Trump is a presidential candidate who encourages violence at campaign events and wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States and is running on a platform of mass deportations and war crimes. Don't serenade Donald Trump.
But also: don't serenade anyone.
I remember the first time I saw someone serenade another person like it was yesterday: I was 16, at a party in a grimy apartment over a hardware store somewhere on Long Island. I was in the kitchen with a friend, sipping Boones Farm (flavor: Strawberry Hill), and probably talking about how my high school teachers were all fascists. On the other side of the room, two boys were talking—engaged in some loud commiseration, knee slaps, totally dude, yes, totally!—about a band called the Replacements.
Then, one of them left the kitchen in a hurry. He returned moments later with, to my everlasting horror, a guitar in his hands. He sat at the kitchen table, looked the other guy straight in the eyes, and started singing "Here Comes a Regular."
That particular song, for those not familiar, is 4:48 long.
There was nowhere to look that did not magnify the awkward, forced intimacy of the serenade. For nearly five minutes, the boy being serenaded moved his eyes from the guitar, to the serenader's face, to the guitar, to the eyes of the people observing (in horror) around the room, to his jeans. Sometimes, not knowing what else to do with his face, he just closed his eyes, probably willing a quick death to come.
This is the only thing you can do during a serenade. Which is why no one in the history of serenades has ever enjoyed a serenade.
Not Aunt Becky, who was terrorized by Uncle Jesse at her own wedding:
Not this newly engaged couple, who was terrorized by Eddie Vedder:
Not this woman trying to eat some food at the mall, who was terrorized by her boyfriend:
Not this young woman, who was terrorized by a person named Cody Simpson:
This high school student: terrorized by five other high school students
Do not serenade people. As a general rule, certainly, but particularly when the person being serenaded is a racist demagogue.