Friends and I have compared aches these last several days and mentioned the old saw, “Getting old is not for sissies.” But driving my two band charges to school in time for inspection tonight I realized these young performers are the real brave souls.
It’s been a long time since band camp, way back at the end of July. Since then I've faithfully transported Emily and Joe, twice a week; band practice on Wednesday, the game on Friday, sometimes a band show on Saturday. Joe’s Mom or Dad has as faithfully brought them back.
Last year Joe worried he wasn't up to scratch, but this year he knows he is. He’s moved from critiquing himself to critiquing every band they have or may play against. He’s an OCD youngster with a photographic memory. I can hear the pages in his mind turn as he ranks bands by size, by sound, by director, by style, by uniform, by music.
He’s also a history buff, and in the beginning of the season we had lovely discussions of the merits of various American presidents. But for the last couple of months, all we've heard from the back seat is the merit of the various school bands, on any feature, and in any order he’s using that night. One night I only had Joe; Emily was already at school. “May I sit in front?” he inquired. “Absolutely!” “Ah, this is much better; we can talk more easily.” I love Joe.
When we discussed history or civics, conversation was two and even three way, when Emily joined in. Now we are obsessing on bands I don’t give a flying blue and white cape with silver braid, and Joe holds the floor, with an occasional remark from Emily.
Joe is still somewhat in awe of the band leader, how well the Code Red will go that night, if their section will be yelled at, how unfair the direction can be. We spent a long time on the rigidness of “march every step, play every note,” and then it went away as a topic. I asked if he was no longer concerned about his ability to do that and Joe replied actually, he realized Bev would know if he marched every step, but not if he played every note, so he has settled on the former as the best course of action.
The squad leaders go to the concession stands during the games and return with snacks for the band members. Joe is a donut fan; he knows what is available at every stadium and their rank in his appreciation. Tonight is a home field playoff and he loves the concession donuts. “And these are the big ones!” he moaned from the back seat. “Donuts?” I asked. “No! The big games. The concessions will be too crowded!” I couldn't explain why his lack of reference was causing me to laugh so hard, but he wasn't fussed.
As we pulled out of his street a light mist began accumulating on the windshield. The closer the stadium, the harder it rained. “Did you know about this?” I asked. “Oh, yes,” from Emily. “It will rain until seven, then turn to snow,” from Joe.
Marching band is not for sissies.