Thursday, July 13

This one time, at band camp ...

We ran a story today about Germantown High School's rookie band camp going on this week, and man oh man did the memories come flooding back when I read it.

No matter where you're from, if you were in high school band (or college band, for that matter), you share an instant bond over band camp. Hours and hours spent in the grueling sunlight (or sometimes rain), holding your horn up, marking time (or, as my idiot self called it in high school, "mark timing"), yelling "fall in!" and standing perfectly still at attention while sweat beads squirmed their way down the small of your back. Squinting into the sun for hours, trying and make out the drum major's movements. The farmer's tans; the headaches; the lunch breaks; the tiny sheet music; the rolled-up, sweat-dampened set-move printouts; the blissful hour or so when you'd go inside the bandroom to practice; the triumph of doing a set of moves over and over again until your director decided you'd learned them well enough to go home -- all that stuff is seared into the memory of band kids and we all feel like hot shit that we actually survived.

My band, for three of my four years in high school, held band camp on a crummy asphalt parking lot that had been painted up to mimic a football field. This made marching in flip-flops (which was pretty much verboten anyway) a particularly masochistic move, because you were still going to be expected to drag the top of your left foot every time you locked into a set. Goodbye, pedicure. And just try marching backwards in flip-flops. Lose one? Tough shit, you gotta keep going even as your sweet litte teenage feet sizzle on the pavement.

Some of my best memories were made at band camp. I hooked my very first boyfriend at band camp. We marched side-by-side the entire season, which is how we met and fell in wuv. He was a senior mellophone player (who had a solo in the show, swoon!) and I was a lowly freshman trombonist (who got yelled at by the director for messing with my hair while at attention), and he complimented me on my super cool wide-leg jeans and Vans knock-offs, and I thought his Green Day T-shirt was totally awesome.

That whole year one the senior trombonists called me "Steve," which is my dad's name.

Then there was this time when we had been outside all day marching and it came a downpour and turned our break area -- the strip of pine trees and dirt running alongside the parking lot we practiced on -- into a red clay mudbath, and I slipped and busted my ass and got absolutely filthy (ruining my prized Adidas shirt), and as I was wallowing around in the mud, a couple of people laughed at me and ended up falling too, so there were three or four of us absolutely covered in the nastiest red clay mud. We had to walk the long haul back to the bandroom and wait for our rides (lowly freshmen can't drive) while enduring good-natured (?) taunts of "Woo! Woodstock '06 '96!!" from some of the upper-classmen.

Egads, I could keep going, but I'll spare you.

Band kids, what are your favorite band camp memories? I know you've got 'em, and I know at least one of you has a memory that involves driving past the band geeks on the practice field and yelling mean things at them. Hmm?

UPDATE: JR reminds me that it's been 10 years since rookie camp; not mere days, which makes me either feel really old or really stupid. Okay, both.


Blogger Cheryl said...

I wasn't a band geek. Instead I was a chorus nerd. We hung around in the same habitat as the band geeks though. :)

Fri Jul 14, 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger J. R. said...

I think someone yelling "Woodstock '06" when you were a freshman was pretty prescient, don't you?

See you this weekend and I can point out your continuity errors in person!


Fri Jul 14, 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger theogeo said...

Well, they were a talented group of kids. Supernaturally so. :)

Fri Jul 14, 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger theogeo said...

Cheryl, I don't know why, but our chorus geeks and band geeks didn't comingle very much. I think it was because they kept the band geeks sequestered in the furthest wing of the school, away from the normal kids.

Fri Jul 14, 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger EThomas said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Fri Jul 14, 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger David Holt said...

Ahhh... Band camp... My memories are going to have to stay under wraps for fear they could be used against me... I'm glad to find your blog though, and thanks for the link.

Tue Jul 18, 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger theogeo said...

Ethomas: All I can think about when I hear "Stars and Stripes Forever" is "Be kind to your web-footed friends, for a duck may be somebody's mother," which is a lyric to that tune my grandfather taught to me.

Welcome, David! I'm afraid we all have memories like that. :)

Wed Jul 19, 11:50:00 PM  

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