Saturday, October 21, 2006

Today I met the Geekiness

The Geekiness that was Me in High School.

Because, see, sometimes when you grow up and become Miss Important Art Director (not that I am) and you do photo shoots with famous people in New York and L.A. and lots of other cool stuff, you forget. You forget that you played the tenor sax for the production of Grease your senior year and on dress rehearsal night you really, really messed up the solo you had at the beginning - so badly you could hear one of your classmates sighing in the audience. (But you did great on opening night.)

You forget that every year for six years running, every single Friday night from September to December, you strapped on a drum and marched around a football field and thought you were cool. Because, the announcer saying "The Manistee High School MARCHING BAND" and the sight of people standing and cheering for you somehow got the old adrenaline flowing and y'all did those cadences that people clapped along with and people used to stand up and cheer for your band. Because it was 1986, and y'all rocked.

Drummers work harder than anyone else in a marching band, by the way. They play all the time, the drums are heavy, you can't drop your rhythm but you can drop a stick, and they are expected to be the loudest people on the field. And those uniforms are sweaty.

So then you grow up and get a semi-big-time job and you have to tell people that you were a Total Band Geek, marching band and concert band and pep band, and yes you were good enough that when you auditioned for college you didn't even get asked to play scales, they just handed you the envelope. And because you made it that easily? You never even showed up for one of those practices, and you never played with the band. Because, high school band was ok, but college band? Never.

Today I went to the Music City Invitational, a marching band competition just like the ones I competed in year after year in school. It was the first time I ever watched one I wasn't competing in. These were tiny bands - only about 60 people. Some were old school with horn raises and double-time, others were more showy and dancy. We stayed for three bands, long enough to see An Important Niece kick it with a really really great old-school big-show band.

But I swear I could smell the green pleather bus seats going to band festival and feel my Walkman in my ears again playing Sly Foxx - "Let's Go All the Way" because I listened to that song over and over and over. And there was this creepy guy named Anthony who always wanted to sit with me, and my band friends and I were at the back of the bus and it was cool. And my friend Michelle who turned out to be kind of a hussy got sent home from the one in junior high for drinking. (I didn't have the foresight to plan my outfits in junior high, let alone pull off a drinking heist.)

I could feel the sweaty cowboy hat on my head, and the plasticky polyester uniform, and see the blue and gold bike tape on my sticks. I could feel that place on my left thumb I hit one too many times on the drum and how nowadays when I bump it wrong, it tingles. That stupid feather in the hat. The frosty, football-game air and the kids under the bleachers getting away with God-knows-what. The announcer that made my blood boil ready to give these people A Show.

A couple of years ago I went back to see my cousin's kid playing in a football game - a teeny, tiny team, I guess, at my hometown school because he played offense AND defense. We were sitting in this ridiculously huge new metal stadium, me and my dad, 17 zillion people related to me sitting around me, and I remembered being a very little kid and sitting with Dad in the bleachers at the old high school stadium, the one I later marched in, with a blanket on my lap and Dad sitting next to me and this kid named David who was a year older, maybe six and would later grow up to be my Homecoming date, and then dump me. And then the band came out.

The teeny, tiny, 1/4 of the size it once was, not nearly loud enough in such a big place, marching out from their place in the end zone next to the Victory Bell. Different uniforms, but probably children of some of the people I went to school with. It was sad that it was so small. But I remember snugging up close to Dad and thinking about being a little kid and being happy anyway, because sometimes nothing is better than a cold fall night with your poppa sitting there next to you.

There is just nothing like a flashback. And y'all thought I was cool, didn't you?


Blogger lorinda said...

Manistee? As in the UP? Yah to da UP, eh?

2:49 PM  
Blogger Zonda said...

Wow! Thanks for the memories!!

From another drumming bandgeek!! ;)

3:37 PM  
Blogger Lori in Michigan said...

Hey Jen,
Just wondered how you're feeling? Better, I hope...

4:38 PM  
Anonymous MaryLou said...

At leat your Michelle was drinking on the back of your band Michelle got pregnant on the back of ours...

6:51 PM  

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