Take your marching band and …

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 13, 2007

Parades frighten me.

More specifically, the thought of marching bands wakes me up in the middle of the night in a cold but profuse sweat.

I was in the high school marching band because I wasn’t smart enough to get out of duty when I had a chance.

Marching band, you see, was part of being a member of the band, which I liked, for the most part. Being in the band allowed you to play with the orchestra, which I liked well enough. Being part of both allowed you to play in the pit band for school productions. I liked a lot.

Yet, all of that hinged on being in the marching band. It was the house of cards to a 15-year-old high school sophomore who didn’t even know what a house of cards was.

Being involved in other extra-curricular activities in the fall, however, allowed you to get out of marching on the weekends, when such things as parades and football games were held.

But this sophomore did know a few things:

Being almost 6-feet tall and weighing about 120 pounds were terrible ingredients for playing football. Soccer, maybe. Cross country was an option, except for all that foolish running involved.

So it was marching band or nothing. But still being 6-feet tall and weighing 120 pounds. Try finding a pair of pants that fit. Let’s just say there was a significant gap between the hem and the top of the shoe, filled by a bright white spat. Add the very tall Romanesque hat, and I looked like a 7-foot tongue-depressor-wide stick covered by black wool with white plastic ankles.

Another thing about marching bands: For the most part, the quality of the music is at best a compromise between playing the notes, and playing the notes loudly.

So the experience was not a memorable one.

And with this being prime parade season, most with at least one marching band in tow, the memories come flooding back. I’m sweating already.

Paul McFarlane is the Editor of The Tidewater News. His e-mail is paul.mcfarlane@tidewaternews.com.