Saturday, November 17, 2007

ur-band legend ...

not big on parades, this lady. for the most part i've believed that parades are just lazy marathons in drag. i've managed to ignore duluth's annual christmas city of the north parade five consecutive decadent pagentries in a row. i've heard tell that this parade does not include candy. airborne frozen tootsie rolls and fontanelles -- that's a flying 25.5 calorie developmental disaster in the making.

on the other hand, my second favorite thing is being in crowds. [first favorite: being somewhere and making a crowd happen]. not to mention my friend the norwegian wonder was going to be part of a mob of preteens wearing hats shaped like cod, which you don't see everyday. so i met chuck near starbucks where we very rudely budged in front of hordes of people who had staked out curb space hours ahead while the fanfare was still getting into formation miles away.

highlights included: one camel, mouth foaming with either rabies or colgate. it took me a few minutes to make my brain understand i was seeing a real live camel and not some special effect of a george lucas nature.

"where do you get a camel?" the guy next to me asked.
"egypt," i said.
i was met with a dull gaze.

lowlights included: marching bands from towns i had never heard of. this brought back a lot of memories of the hell that was high school band.

[cue fuzzy flash back]

in whatever grade it is that you decide what instrument is going to ruin your social life, i chose the alto saxophone for a lot of superficial reasons -- including, but not limited to -- i'd never seen a cool clarinet player and my parents saw no reason to let me play drums. i didn't want to play any instrument, frankly. but this would be the first in many conversations that ended " ... will look good on your college applications." this, of course, is like telling a fourth grader to drink milk so she has strong bones and teeth when she is 60.

the saxophone was a pretty impractical choice. it costs twice as much as a clarinet, and limits your instrument-playing to the saxophone. whereas, according to ur-band legend, if you learn to play the clarinet, you can segue into other great instruments. like the saxophone.

" ... yeah, but then i have to play the clarinet first," i explained deftly, and won.

***

lessons were approximately 20 minutes trapped in the basement at st. pius with one or two other novices squaking "three blind mice." about three years into this arrangement i realized that i didn't have to go. i could leave class and sit in a first floor bathroom for 20 minutes. have that showoff shannon tell the band teacher that i forgot my saxophone that day.

***

band developed into a worse commitment in high school. the first hour of the day spent in a humid band room with trombone players emptying gallons of spit next to plastic chairs. spending football games in polyester and spats and dancing like a monkey at halftime.

when the basketball team advanced to the state tournament and my friends were gathered in a face-painted horde, i was sucking on reeds and wearing captain merrill stubbing's hat within view of the fun.

***

my best friend princess linda was an equally frustrated trumpet player. we took to clanging our instruments together, an act that looked celebratory but was really an attempt to irreparably damage our brass. or at least send it to the shop for a week. as various marching band events neared, we became bolder: we dropped our cases down the 20-some steps leading to the bandroom, standing at the top and feigning alarm, then accidentally kicking the instruments down another flight of steps.

***

the whole thing would have been completely unbearable if i wasn't occasionally making out with a trombone player after school in the choir room.

***

i was allowed to drop band after my sophomore year.

***

after the parade i called princess linda to see if she had any photos of us in full band regalia. she tersely explained that i was interupting friday night lights, but eased up a bit when the show went to commercial.

as a testament to how much we loathed this extracurricular: there were no photos of us in band. and princess linda took photos of everything in high school. she did, however, send me this photo which remains my prefered way of getting into bed.

9 comments:

Beverly said...

I would have like to learn saxophone, but my mom made me choose the flute because it was the cheapest.

Charlie said...

Take it from me: That whole "yeah but if you learn clarinet then you can move on to saxaphone" thing doesn't tend to work out. 'Cause somewhere down the line your parents realize that saxaphones? Still expensive. And chances are they aren't too thrilled with having two instruments around the house that are never played after you leave high school.

At least, such was my experience. However, I did manage to ditch the useless clarinet for marching band in favor of playing the big bass drum. That was pretty cool.

</music nerd>

Flenker said...

Our marching band didn't wear spats. I think that made my experience a lot better. I actually still play my alto! :)

christina said...

i last played my saxophone about 7 years ago. i found a discounted book of neil diamond songs and dusted it off so i could toot away to "cherry, cherry."

it was not at all satisfying.

kristabella said...

I played sax too. For nine freaking years. At one point, I thought I wanted to be the next Kenny G. No lie.

And then I slapped myself into reality.

Our HS marching band was good. We did all the competitions and stuff. Football games were "practice."

And I drew the line and never did "pep band" (seriously, that's what it was called) for the basketball team.

Am. Such. A nerd.

L Sass said...

I also was in horrific band until 11th grade. It goes to show how utterly nerdy I was that I only stuck with it because lots of my friends were in the band, too. They weren't the super band geeks, they were kids who liked music, but still. STILL.

Miss Kate said...

Hello, my name is Kate, and I played the tuba in the concert band/marching band/pep band until the 11th grade. Although I did get to skip most games because of cheerleading.

I really wanted to play the bari sax, but my 5th grade band teacher, Mr. Zschunke (pronounced "Chunky") talked me into the tuba. Wow.

feistyMNgirl said...

imagine a high school letterman's jacket with "letters" in band, math team, and drama.

if you had played clarinet, like me, you would have been in pep band AND marching band too.

christina said...

feisty -- i was in both. i was the one in marching band who always "forgot" her hat or spats or gloves and had to go without.

a regular old menace.