I’m taking literary journalism this semester, and one of our assignments was to write about a moment in our life. I’m posting my moment here because one of my classmates wanted me to so she could send the link to her boyfriend.
Plus, this is really funny:
I am a high school band legend.
That’s what I’ve gleamed from a conversation with Matthew, my cousin while we sit in my grandmother’s kitchen and watch the Thanksgiving lunch preparations.
“My band director told us about a girl whose pants fell down while she was marching,” he told me.
I’m not exactly sure how we came to discuss this, but I do remember sitting up straight in my chair and asking excitedly, “Did he say where she was from?” “No,” Matthew replied. He was somewhat perplexed. “That’s me,” I said. “That totally happened to me.”
I was a freshman at Carthage High School, and I played the clarinet in our school’s band. We weren’t the kind of marching band that you might see on TV: the somewhat hip band, playing current songs and dancing around while we happened to be in formation. For us, it was all military, all the time. Precision ruled the day.
The pants incident happened at our first home football game. This being Carthage, where most everything closed at 9 p.m. and football was a revered sport, the stadium was packed with a couple thousand people. The band had been playing throughout the first half, but now we were on the field, preparing to do the familiar routine we’d been doing at practice and away games.
I noticed that the Velcro on my hideous band uniform wasn’t clinging to itself as it should. I tried smashing it back together, but that Velcro had pretty much given up. I was perhaps the 20th person to have been assigned those pants because they hadn’t had new uniforms since the 70s. I decided it’d be ok. These pants had been doing just fine so far. So I got in formation with my clarinet and waited for the drum major’s shrill whistle, which would signal that we should begin.
I don’t recall the song we were playing or most of the steps of our routine. We started out at the back of the middle field and marched toward the home side of the stadium. We then took a turn and marched to the right, toward the field goal post. Once there, each row would do a 180-degree countermarch.
My pants started to slip just before I did the countermarch. By the time I did and had gone a few more steps, I was waddling around like a penguin.
Eventually I toppled over, because no matter how hard you try, you can’t march with your pants around your ankles.
My fellow marchers were either too shocked to say something or too unaware. Those few who could say something urged me to run off the field, but I knew that wasn’t an option. One, my embarrassment would increase triple fold, and two, all I could picture was my band director’s disapproving face as he cried out “Why did you leave the field?!”
So I did the only thing I could think of: I yanked off my pants (I did have on pants underneath my uniform, by the way), threw them over my shoulder, grabbed my clarinet, and raced toward the rest of the band at the other end of the field, hoping like hell that I’d have a clue as to where we were in our routine.
When I reached them, I found my empty hole and did two quick maneuvers back into my place. I can’t recall what the turns I did were called, but I remember it was the only time in my pitiful marching career that I did them perfectly. Luckily, we were at the end of our routine.
I got to relive the entire thing the following Monday, when we watched the video of our performance as usual. I’m sad to note that I didn’t get a copy of it. I kind of wanted to send it to America’s Funniest Home Video.
Instead, I’m the reason why my high school band made sure to require suspenders for everyone during the follow year, and I’m the reason why they made sure when they ordered new band uniforms that they came with the suspenders attached the year after that.