Category Archives: Marching Band

Things I’ve Never Done

I’ve been hearing a lot about New Year’s Resolutions lately. In fact, I even wrote some of my own.

But recently I was reading the little note from the editor at the beginning of a magazine, and she wrote that she makes a list every January of “Things I’ve Never Done.”

So guess what I did?

Here’s my list of Things I’ve Never Done:

• Poked my eye out with a hanger
• Cleared a HazMat site
• Wore a mink bikini
• Lifted a Volkswagen over my head
• Held my breath till my lungs exploded

But as I re-read my list, it occurred to me that the editor I stole this idea from probably WANTS to do the stuff on her list.

So here’s my revised list of Things I’ve Never Done That I’d LIKE To Do:

• Go an entire day without saying, “Just DO it, okay?? Geez!”
• Eat a block of cheese without one pang of guilt
Cheerfully clean my house
• Get my house cleaned by cheerful people
• Write a manuscript that doesn’t need revising
• Be a synesthetic tuba player

What’s on your list?

Name That Sax

I’ve recently discovered Google Alerts. All I did was spend three minutes teaching it my name, the name of my blog, and the phrases ‘marching band’ and ‘synesthesia’ and — poof — every day, like magic, something new and wonderful pops into my email inbox.

First, let me just say how ridiculously thrilling it is to read other blogs where people refer to you in complimentary ways. Ridiculously. Thrilling.

Second, it’s also thrilling when I know I can provide help to some other blogger.

Case in point …I was alerted to a blog written by an 18-year-old former marching band student. He attended the Penang Free School which my extraordinarily mad detective skillz, ie, Wikipedia,  found to be located in Malaysia.  It’s been in continuous operation since 1816 and many famous people went there. Here are three that jumped out at me:
• Tunku Abdul Rahman, First Prime Minister and founding father of Malaysia.
• Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu, second Chief Minister of Penang.
• Dato’ Eddy Choong, former All-England Badminton champion.

This young man’s blog linked to the PFS band blog which has a ton of fun photos.

It also has a YouTube video of one of their competitions that I just loved so I’m posting it here for your viewing pleasure. Watch for fantastic, crowd-pleasing drum major stick tosses. And notice … no percussion pit.

It’s nice to know “woohoo” means exactly the same thing on every continent. (Well, maybe not Antarctica.) It kinda makes me feel like I speak a second language.

And the band experience translates as well. This is what he says:

In the band, you push yourself worse than military cadets. Ironically, you love doing it! Pushing yourself further when you are dead tired, telling yourself to force that note out despite your breathlessness. You do push because that very passion in you pumps you further. You know that you will enjoy the ecstasy of the note you play although there is no room for thought in your mind for the suffocation is oppressing your brain to dead stop. Still, the satisfaction of a good show, especially in a competition will not only make you feel good, but it is very, very possible to reduce you to tears once you hear the audience cheer endlessly for your band. Tears not of joy, nor of pain. But tears of being extremely proud of being a member of the PFS Band. That feeling, my friends, cannot be matched even by flooding your system with endorphin!

But here’s the cry for help. This young man is asking for help in naming his saxophone. So, everybody …. Hop over there and give him some ideas.

“Becky” would be a lovely name for a saxophone, don’t you think?

Blind Marching Band

Even though my friend George was in charge of the ENTIRE Tournament of Roses Parade, I had to find out about one of Pasadena’s invited marching bands from a news station in New Zealand!

The Ohio State School for the Blind has the honor of being the first blind marching band in the United States.

Yes, you read that right. A blind marching band. The director’s motto is “If it can’t be done, let’s do it anyway.” What a remarkable man to throw down a gauntlet like this to his kids and what extraordinary students to not only accept the challenge, but to do it up right.

In case you were wondering … yes, I got verklempt as I watched. I’m looking for footage of their Rose Parade appearance, but can’t find it. Anyone?

I’m awed and inspired. Take a look at the video and tell me what you think.

Great BeckyLand Think Off

The Great American Think-Off is America’s premier amateur philosophy contest. Possibly America’s only premier amateur philosophy contest. It’s an essay contest in its 17th year started as a way for ordinary citizens to express their opinions on weighty matters.

These are some topics they’ve had in the past:

2007: Which should you trust more — your head or your heart?
2006: Which is more valuable to society: safety or freedom?
2005: Competition or cooperation: which benefits society more?
2003: Do we reap what we sow?
2000: Is democracy fair?
1999: Which is more dangerous — science or religion?
1998:  Is honesty always the best policy?
1996:  Does God exist?
1994:  Does life have meaning?
1993:  The nature of humankind:  inherently good or inherently evil?

The 2009 essay and debate question is “Is it ever wrong to do the right thing?”

If you want to enter THEIR contest, just submit an essay of 750 words or less by April 1, 2009. Their website states, “The key to writing a successful essay is to ground your argument in personal experience. The judges are looking for essays that address this central problem of moral philosophy by speaking about personal experience rather than abstract philosophical reasoning. Tell a good story that shows a firm standing on one side or the other of this philosophical divide.”

Not to be outdone, here at BeckyLand my crack team of extraordinary thinker-types have put together a BeckyLand Essay Topic ….

“Marching band is the only worthwhile extra-curricular activity.”

Here are the rules:

• Answer yes or no, then support your position. You can use scratch paper and a calculator, but show your work.

• Prizes are as follows:
First place: Nothing
Second place: Nada
Third place: Zip

Good luck and let the bickering begin!

Weird Search Terms

In the last few days, people used these terms to wander into BeckyLand. Some of them make perfect sense, but others?

• ala challenged books the book cut by pat
• church lady cake recipe?
• “my glasses” squint
• goofy horse humor videos
• pom on of mice and men (at least 100 kin
• huckleberry finn – synesthesia
• guess the carols
• “10,000 hour rule” +”writing a novel”
• im just sayin becky
• hbook.com/blog
• jesus obama
• allan pinkerton early life you are a fat penguin you stupid fatty you
• goofy texas marching band pants
• acts retreat in omaha, nebraska
• i hate synthesia
• why the book “i know why the caged bird
• tuba christmas

This cyber world fascinates and disturbs me. And probably others. Like the person looking for “goofy horse humor videos” who only found a video of me.  Hey! Wait a minute!

Goofy texas marching band pants” fascinated me. So I googled it. My blog came up as the fifth link, but how can you not investigate these other gems?

• The most effective way to strangle a band geek while still keeping their pants up. …
• If I ran for President, my platform would be… a marching band truck. … that one day the giant storm rolled in and I think I peed my pants a little …

This has got to be my favorite search term, though: “allan pinkerton early life you are a fat penguin you stupid fatty you.”

They totally win points for searching unique information, but I gotta admit, my feelings were a little hurt. Since my name isn’t Allan Pinkerton, that only leaves the fat penguin part. And I’m not a penguin.

What exactly do you think “pom on of mice and men (at least 100 kin” means? Besides the obvious — some high school student looking for homework shortcuts — of course.

Pomegranates in Of Mice and Men? At least 100 kinds? I don’t really remember a big tropical fruit scene from the book. Admittedly, I haven’t read it in awhile. And are there really 100 kinds of pomegranates?

Poem? At least 100 in King Lear? Did they get sidetracked in their research? Or were they trying to write one paper for two classes? I heartily recommend this approach to homework, by the way. I once wrote a paper entitled “Thar Juliet Blows!” combining my extensive knowledge of both Shakespeare and Herman Melville.

I guess I’ll never know what they were looking for … unless one of you ‘fesses up!

What do you think they were trying to find?

Tuba Christmas

If you’ve ever attended TubaChristmas, I’m convinced you’ll get a higher place in heaven. But not if you only go to the ones staged in Phoenix or Honolulu, or worse yet, indoors. Those are fun in their own way, but they won’t give you any kind of tuba cred.

TubaChristmas is an event best served cold. Very cold. Like it was yesterday in Denver. An outdoor concert in 7° — yes, that’s seven freakin degrees. Standing in snow. In the middle of the day. In the sunshine.

For those of you who’ve never had the pleasure of living in America’s icebox, that’s like filling your Jacuzzi with ice and jumping in. For two hours. That’s like sunbathing on an ice floe all afternoon. That’s like being buried alive in a vat of Ben & Jerry’s that you can’t even eat because your lips don’t work.

Here’s me with my lips not working.

becky-at-tubachristmas-2008

Here’s part of the raucous holiday audience, full of good TubaCheer.

tubachristmas-audience-2008

TubaChristmas was conceived in 1974 as a tribute to the late artist and teacher William J. Bell, born on Christmas Day, 1902. The first TubaChristmas was held in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza Ice Rink on Sunday, December 22, 1974.

Traditional Christmas music performed at the first TubaChristmas was arranged by American composer Alec Wilder who ironically died on Christmas Eve, 1980. Wilder was a loyal supporter of every effort to improve the literature and public image of tubas and euphoniums and composed many solo and ensemble pieces for them. Tuba players love TubaChristmas because it’s the only time they ever get to play the melody. Ever.

Yesterday’s performance in Denver had about 150 hardy souls playing tubas, euphoniums, baritones and sousaphones. The youngest performer was 8

youngest

and the oldest was 88.

oldest

The guy behind him in the green got my vote for best costume — red pants, a green velvet Revolutionary war jacket and matching Santa hat.

If the weather would have been about twenty degrees warmer — up to a balmy 30° — at least 100 more performers would have been there. Probably more. Tuba players don’t get much opportunity to perform, singly or in tuba ensembles, so it takes a lot to keep them away.

They come from everywhere —schools, colleges, the community — for a two-hour rehearsal and then the concert.

I was fairly certain neither my camera nor my hands would work too well to videotape outside, so I shot a bit of the warm indoor rehearsal. As it turned out, tubas don’t work so well in cold temps either. Their valves freeze. At any given time during the concert, half the performers were in the neighboring coffee shops and businesses trying to thaw their instruments. They’d come back, and others would take their places to thaw in the indoor warmth. Out of 17 songs on the program, my sons played about four. My oldest told me that after one thaw, he was only out for a few seconds before he froze again. He also said it was the best TubaChristmas he’d ever been to. Tuba players are a resilient lot, and if they were frozen, they’d sing their parts. It is a group effort, after all.

tubachristmas-2008

So, here, for your holiday entertainment, melodious tubas in full force during rehearsal with completely warm instruments.

If you want to experience TubaChristmas for yourself, find one close to you, this year or next. They hold them every year and, in Denver at least, they never cancel because of weather. So bundle up and bring a thermos of something warm. Maybe TubaNog. Or Flaming TubaPunch.

Merry TubaChristmas!

Have you ever watched or performed TubaChristmas?

2008 Marching Band Competition

Here it is … what you’ve all been waiting for … cyber drum roll, please ….

The Chaparral High School Marching Band is officially the 9th best band in Colorado!

Their final score was 73.25, only 0.6 points behind eighth place. The also took home a plaque for the most improved band. That award is given to the band that increases their score the most from last year’s state competition.

I am exceedingly proud of all of them … especially my fabulous tuba-playing son. If you’re paying attention — and, really, why wouldn’t you be? — you’ll see a close-up of him doing a happy, shiny tuba flip. It comes right after my extremely bad camera work. In my defense, I hardly ever use the video camera anymore so I couldn’t keep the camera from jiggling, find my son, AND remember where the zoom was. So sue me.

They work so hard — sweltering through summer band camp on the hot asphalt of the student parking lot where they rehearse … trying to convince non-band students to move their cars off the 50-yard line so they can practice after school … marching in every kind of weather … late nights, early mornings — all for a ten-minute production.

In the summertime when the band was rehearsing, the football players came over and marveled at how much harder the band kids work than football players work. If you ever want to get a band kid all blustery and righteous, point out that football players get PE credit just for being on the team, but band students don’t. Then stand back!

I’ll apologize in advance for the woo-hooing in your ear in the video. I tried to control myself, but, alas, could not. But it’s not just me. The whole crowd does the same thing. And just so you know, videotape does NOT do this band justice. When they play to the backfield then turn and blast that wall of sound right at you … well, it’s pretty darn close to a religious experience. Definitely not an exaggeration to say it can give you a full-body shimmy.

Enjoy ….

Did it give you a full-body shimmy? Goosebumps? Lump in your throat? Do you love the marching band with every fiber of your being?!

It Wasn’t My Fault, part two

IT WASN’T MY FAULT…. Part Two

By ALISON LOHANS

© Alison Lohans, 1993
Excerpted from LAWS OF EMOTION by ALISON LOHANS, Thistledown Press with the permission of Thistledown Press.

Read Part One

Part Two ….

“Oh you guys!” Tina shrieked with laughter. “You are too much!”

Blinking back tears, I tried to extricate myself.

“Sorry about that.” Adam got up clumsily. He was drenched with something that smelled like Pepsi. He looked down at himself, then shrugged. “Oh well. It’s raining. It’ll wash off.”

I floundered in the mud. Tina and Adam each extended a hand. “How’m I supposed to go to the dance like this?” I wailed.

“Back in a sec,” Adam said, taking off at a run toward the concession stands.

“You didn’t want to dance with that old Piggins anyway,” Tina said fiercely. “Think he’d be a treat, all stinky after the game?”

“He gets to take a shower. He has clean clothes to change into. And they have hair dryers in the locker room.”

Tina giggled. “You could use the guys’ locker room.”

“Oh shut up.”

“Here you go.” Adam was back with a huge handful of paper towels. His glasses were so blurred with rain I wondered how he could tell whom to come back to. I felt like a real dipstick as he and Tina and one of the drummers wiped me off. All around us the rain kept hissing down.

Hardly any spectators were left by the time we got back to the bleachers, except a few die-hards who’d had the foresight to bring umbrellas. On the glistening field, brown figures grappled, slithered, fumbled the ball. A yellow school bus had pulled up by the Cougars’ bleachers, and a lot of their fans were boarding. Mr. Baxter decided to forget about the halftime show.

This is sick,” one of the trombone players groaned.

Mr. Baxter had us play the fight song. Not that it would help. The score was only 49-6, Cougars.

“Mr. B.?” Adam spoke up afterwards. “I can’t see my music. I haven’t got windshield wipers for my glasses.”

Mr. Baxter smiled indulgently. “Then take them off – you’ve had your music memorized since last month.”

“But how’m I supposed to see the game?”

“What game?” I muttered.

“Squint,” replied Mr. Baxter.

Tina giggled. “Never quits, does he.”

I glanced sideways as Adam removed his glasses. His face looked oddly vulnerable, his brown eyes somehow naked, groping to connect with the world.

The game was called off. Rather, we conceded. It was pretty obvious who’d win, anyhow.

“So now what’re we supposed to do?” I asked Tina as she blew water out of her trumpet. “We can’t go to the dance like this. And nobody’s home to pick us up.” My parents were at a party. Tina’s mom worked night shift.

“Hm,” said Tina. “We’ve got a problem.”

“I’d give you girls a ride if I had a car,” Adam said. His eyes were blinking and his lashes wet with rain.

I had to smile a little.

“We could steal that Porsche,” Tina suggested, pointing.

I fumbled in my wallet. “I’ve got ninety-two cents. That wouldn’t pay a heck of a lot of taxi fare.”

Adam checked the contents of his pockets. “Hey, is that a nickel or a quarter?”

I poked at the coins in his cold hand. “You have seventy-four cents. And a bottle cap.”

“I’ve got two bucks,” Tina added.

“The sum total of which would get you girls about six blocks,” Adam predicted.

Tina turned on him. “How’re you getting home?”

Adam shrugged. “Walking. I’m just a wimp. Nobody’d be interested in molesting me.”

I looked sharply at him. Was that how he really felt about himself?

Warm air greeted us in the music room. The floor was slick with tracked-in mud. I sat down and put my trumpet in its case. Across the room in the clarinet section Adam looked – well, kind of depressed, as he took his clarinet apart and carefully wiped it dry. I almost felt like going over to talk to him – not that I’d have anything remarkable to say.

Tina skidded across the room. “Stacey! Success! Travis said he’d give us a ride.”

My stomach somersaulted. Travis had a habit of smashing cars. The two times I’d ridden with him I’d been a mere glob of Jell-O in the back seat. “I guess I’ll wait here until the dance is over,” I said. “Mr. B’ll let me practice or listen to CDs. Or something.”

Tina gave me a withering look and followed Travis out the door.

“I’ll walk you home, Stacey.” Adam’s voice startled me.

I looked up. He was still sitting there. I laughed a little. “I live three miles away.”

“Oh. Well…”

“No, that’s okay. But it’s sweet of you to offer.”

He still hadn’t put his glasses back on. Was I just a blur to him? With his hair plastered to his head, he looked like a half-drowned puppy.

“Want to do something while you’re waiting for your parents? Get a Coke or something?” Adam got busy polishing his glasses.

It felt weird talking back and forth across the empty room. I went over to sit by him. He put his glasses on. But it was too quiet. I started getting nervous. Why’d Tina have to go off with that drag racer?

I took a deep breath. “I guess we could go for a walk.”

A slow smile spread across Adam’s face. “A walk in the rain. We’re already soaked; what’s the difference?”

I grinned at him and stood up.

It was glorious walking in the rain. The streets shimmered with light. Water gushed in gutters, sluicing into storm drains. I ran along the wet sidewalks, Adam pounding after me.

“Higgins iggins biggins piggins!” I yelled. It was deliciously satisfying.

“What?” Adam called.

“Nothing.” My feet slapped to a halt beneath one of the city’s saplings, planted in a dirt square surrounded by sidewalk. I grasped the trunk of the young tree and shook it. Drops cascaded all over me, all over Adam.

“Hey!” he yelped. Laughing, he mopped at his glasses, then gave up and tucked them in his pocket.

Midway between two painted parking stall lines, I saw a pinky-greeny-yellowy oil stain. “How pretty!” I said in surprise.

“What’s pretty? I can’t see a thing without my glasses.” Adam grinned and took a turn shaking the tree.

Something went soft inside me. “Can you see me?” I asked.

“Oh sure,” he said, still smiling. “I can see you with my eyes shut.” And then he clammed up.

I watched a traffic light turn green, amber, then red again. Cars splashed past, leaving silvery streaks in the street. “Adam?” I said at last.

“Want to get an ice cream cone or something?” he mumbled in a hurry. “They’ve got licorice ice cream at Bailey’s.”

“Adam.” Since he still wasn’t looking at me, I had to go stand directly in front of him.

“What?” He wasn’t much taller than me, and he looked nervous.

Suddenly I felt on shaky ground. A van rumbled past, spraying water on us. A police car swooshed in the opposite direction. And the rain kept spattering down, between us, around us, surrounding us. “Adam Messick,” I said slowly, “it was really nice of you to wipe that mud off me at the game. And to offer to walk me home.”

“It just seemed the right thing, I guess.” Rainwater beaded his face. I went a little weak in the knees. I’d never noticed what a nice profile he had.

It was all Mr. Baxter’s fault. Mr. Baxter, and the rain. Biggins Piggins Higgins was washed right out of my system. Here I was standing at the corner of Tyrol and Columbia with an unknown quantity.

“Do you like licorice ice cream?” that unknown quantity mumbled. “They have double almond mocha too, and just plain vanilla.”

I wasn’t too sure what I liked anymore, because everything was swimming in glimmering wetness. “I like licorice.”

“Then I’ll buy you one.” Right away he looked happier.

It sounded like a good buy – especially if he only had seventy-four cents and a bottle cap. I didn’t know if I should offer to get him one, too.

“It’s a deal,” I said, tucking my arm in his.

A heart-stopping smile spread across his face.

It was all Mr. Baxter’s fault…

THE END

What did you think?

It Wasn’t My Fault

I met Alison Lohans on Facebook recently. (Isn’t that where everyone meets these days?!) And we started gabbing about books and writing and I learned her new book, THIS LAND WE CALL HOME, is short-listed for the Young Adult Book category of the Saskatchewan Book Awards. It’s YA historical fiction dealing with the World War II Japanese American relocation camps. As soon as I can, I’ll do a First Page Book Review on it. Can’t wait!

We’ve also been gabbing about marching band and she told me she wrote a short story several years ago set in the marching band. I told her I’d love to see it, she got permission from her publisher, and voila! Here is part one of IT WASN’T MY FAULT for your reading enjoyment.

IT WASN’T MY FAULT…. Part One

By ALISON LOHANS

© Alison Lohans, 1993
Excerpted from LAWS OF EMOTION by ALISON LOHANS, Thistledown Press with the permission of Thistledown Press.

It was all Mr. Baxter’s fault.

Not that I happened to be sitting next to Adam Messick at the football game. That was an accident. The way we file into the stands after doing our intro on the field, we often end up sitting next to kids we don’t know all that well. So sitting next to Adam was no big deal.

It was Mr. Baxter’s fault. Because of the rain.

It was our final game of the season. We had a thrilling record of one win and six losses. The field was soggy because it had rained on and off for several days. Our marching shoes were caked with mud. My best friend Tina Mihalowicz, who was sitting next to me too, had her uniform legs spattered with mud. Out on the playing field our gold-and-white team was rapidly turning brown. And we were getting clobbered. It was only the first quarter.

I felt crummy.

Not because of the way the Cougars were turning us to clowns. Not because of the mud. It had nothing to do with Mr. Baxter. Or Adam.

Tina and I were supposed to be going to the after-game dance. I was devastated. Not because of the dance. But I’d counted on spending some time there with Reilly Higgins – only when I’d been on my way from biology to sixth period English, I’d seen him in the hallway talking to Lisa Morrelli. Not just talking. Looking positively mesmerized was more like it.

I waved and said hi (almost brushing against him), but Reilly never even noticed. I could’ve melted with humiliation, right into a giant oily spot on the tiles.

Tina nudged me with her trumpet. She has an uncanny way of reading my mind. “Higgins Piggins,” she said. “I bet he gets a faceful of mud out there.”

“I’ll throw it anytime,” I offered.

A yell rose up from the other side of the stadium. One of the Cougars was loping toward the goal line. Our number 38 fell flat in the mud. I laughed out loud. Reilly – served the jerk right. The Cougars scored and their pep band blasted out their school song. One of our drummers tapped out a little competition.

It started raining. Again.

It seemed fitting, considering the way I felt.

The instant the Cougar band quit, Mr. Baxter was snapping his fingers. “Okay, guys – Devastators theme. One, two, one, hit it!”

Right away we became a whirlwind of sound. Tina’s and my trumpets screamed out high notes. Adam’s clarinet shrilled a trill. The percussion section pounded out a throbbing rhythm so catchy I halfway expected to see the whole crowd stand up and start dancing. That was one thing about our band. Our football team might be pathetic. Our field might be muddy. It might be raining – but we were good and everybody knew it.

Mr. Baxter had to stop us for the kickoff. One of the drummers played a crescendoing roll as the figures on the field ran slow-motion toward the up-ended ball. Tina’s trumpet sang out Charge! The crowd roared as the ball shot into the air.

“Mr. B.,” said Adam once the game was underway. “It’s raining.” Mr. Baxter had a way of being impervious to weather. Sometimes I got the feeling he’d keep us playing even if a twister started cleaning off the football field.

Mr. Baxter just smiled pleasantly and pulled his hat down over his ears. “I noticed.”

“Oh come on Derek, you idiot!” Tina shrieked. “Clobber him!” And she jumped to her feet, waving her trumpet to get her point across.

The rain came down harder. It flattened my hair and made cold trickles on my scalp. The stadium lights cast pale pools over the action on the field – only now there was more action and more pools, jillions of jiggly raindrops and multiplying puddles on the track. Already I could imagine how our shoes would squish through them as we marched out for the halftime show.

Tina wiped rain out of her face. “Mr. B.? Are we still doing our halftime show?”

“We shall see,” our director said ambiguously. The ranks broke on the football field, and again he was snapping his fingers. “’Peter Gunn.’ One-and-two-and-three-and-GO!” The trombones and baritones belted out the intro. Tina and I and the other trumpets were ready with our jazzy melody. On the track, Lisa Morrelli and the other rally girls danced in the mud. Their pom-poms looked like bundles of wet chicken feathers.

My music was getting soggy; it drooped in my trumpet lyre. Halfway through the piece it wilted completely and did me as much good as a used Kleenex – but I had the piece memorized anyhow.

Adam wiped the rain off his glasses when we finished. “You should laminate your music, Stacey,” he said.

I looked at his. It sat in his lyre, perky as a peacock’s tail in full bloom. “Maybe next time,” I said.

People in the crowd were grumbling about the rain and paying little attention to the game. The players were all so muddy it was hard to tell which team was which.

“Maybe they’ll call off the game,” I muttered.

Adam turned to me with mock surprise. His glasses were a blur of wobbling wetness. “Stacey! Where’s your school spirit?”

“In the mud.”

“Where’s your sense of adventure?”

“In the mud,” Tina joined in.

“Mr. B.,” our drum major said tactfully, “don’t you think this much rain is bad for our uniforms? Being wool and all, don’t you think they might shrink?”

Mr. Baxter nodded. “The thought had crossed my mind. Okay, troops, fall out. See you back on the spot in street clothes in fifteen minutes.”

We let out a huge groan.

In the stands, what was left of the crowd was on its feet, screaming. One of our guys was sloshing toward the goal line, football tucked beneath his arm.

“Go Eagles!” Tina screeched, jumping up and down. Her trumpet clipped me on the ear. “Oops. Sorry, Stacey.” She grinned apologetically as the player scored our first and only touchdown.

Adam grinned at me too. “Injured?”

“Only my dignity,” I murmured, rubbing my ear.

We ambled back to the music room to change. Some kids were furious. “How’re we supposed to go to the dance?” a flute player wailed. “Now we won’t even have dry clothes to change into.”

“Same as everybody else,” said Adam. “Dripping wet.”

“Oh sure. They won’t be forced to sit in the rain for two hours.”

Tina checked her watch. “Only one hour and twelve minutes now,” she commented. “Fifty-seven minutes, by the time we get back.”

The girl turned on her. “How come you’re on his side?”

Tina just grinned and brushed her sopping hair back from her face. “Who said I was?”

“I’m not going back. If he asks where I am, tell him I threw up. Because I will, if I have to sit through one more second of that repulsive game.”

In the band room several other deserters were packing up their instruments. Tina looked at me. I looked at her. “Oh what the heck,” I said. “I’ve got nothing to lose.”

“Atta girl!” Tina applauded and ushered me into the girls’ changing room. It smelled of wet wool and stinky socks. Tina kicked off her muddy marching shoes. “Gross! Where’s the air freshener?”

I wiggled into my tights and top. “Don’t worry, we’ll be getting plenty of fresh air.” At least Reilly would be worse off. He was muddy – and how would it feel to have rain hammering down on your football helmet all the time? Awful, I hoped.

“Higgins iggins biggins piggins,” Tina warned. “You need somebody smarter.”

“Like who?” I demanded, poking my arms into my sweater. “Adam?” He just happened to be the first guy to pop into my head.

“Hm.” Tina paused, comb in her stringy hair. “You could do worse.”

“No way! I was only kidding. C’mon, aren’t you ready?”

Tina pulled on her jacket and blocked the doorway. “Smile, Stacey.”

I stuck out my tongue.

Only a few of us straggled back to the stadium. The rain hadn’t stopped.

“What’re we trying to prove?” grumbled one of the saxophone players.

“That we are individuals with character?” A tuba player explored possibilities of using his huge instrument as an umbrella.

“Shove it, Wallace.”

“Look out!” Tina screeched.

I looked up. Hurtling toward us from the top of the bleachers was a yellow balloon, obviously filled with something heavier than air. We scattered. My feet slipped in the muck and I fell sideways. Somebody landed on top of me.

To be continued ….

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