I just returned from what will likely be the last band concert I will ever attend, as my boys have decided to pursue more athletic activities. I arrived 25 minutes early, and found myself relegated to suffer the hideous indignity of sitting on a bleacher bench. I do not have a core solid enough to withstand holding myself upright, so I slouched like a hunchback and settled in for the long haul. My mind filled with dread when the band director, a perky blonde, announced the concert would be "lengthy."
My boys are not in the "good" band, so their part was over in the first twenty minutes or so. I clapped dutifully and belted out the chorus of "Sweet Caroline" in unison with the crowd. As the better bands played, I started to lose interest and made good use of my time watching the kids and the spectators as I grew hotter and hotter, sweat making rivulets down my back. Of course, a man came late and sat right next to me with a spirited sprite of a girl who proceeded to jump and flail her little arms about until I had to give her the "mom" glare. She finally backed down and sat, trembling, against her father. Victory!
I watched a trumpet player consume a three-course meal of detritus from his nose. Boys snickered and girls giggled. As we headed into hour two of this thing, I started to wonder if it was ever going to end. Would my crooked and weary back give out? Would I get a blood clot from sitting too long? Why does that lady over there keep staring at me with her RBF? Is that nose-picker ever going to run out of his endless supply of snacks?
Mind you, there are four school days left. I have ten days' worth of grading to finish. Being an English teacher, my math skills are rusty, but I can extrapolate from those statistics that some things may end up recycled rather than graded. Certainly nothing productive was getting done as I listened to "YMCA" and performed the appropriate hand motions. I thought back to just last week, when I had to write the comment, "Don't use the word 'weenie' in a formal paper," and wondered if a nice, long hospital stay with a morphine drip could possibly be in the cards for me soon. Is that my appendix hurting? PLEASE? Let it be my appendix so I can leave...
Suddenly, the stream of consciousness writing I've been teaching made perfect sense. William Faulkner must have written his great works while trapped at the mercy of an unholy band director and her minions, keeping us captive through middle school renditions of The Beach Boys and Michael Jackson. One's mind must wander in order to keep sane.
Finally, after what was admittedly an awesome drum line act, it was time to go. After three knee creaks and a lower back pop, I was upright and hobbling down the steps, hoping feeling would return to my cankles soon. Caught up in the swoop of parents frantically trying to reach their spawn, I felt a hint of nostalgia and a whiff of sadness that my band days are over. As I found my long-haired boys - easy to spot in the sea of their crew-cutted friends - I loved them a little bit more for letting me have a glimpse into the music world. Maybe these concerts aren't so bad after all.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.