Last night I attended The Pony's band concert.
It was at my old high school, not far from the district where I teach and The Pony attends. No regular concert was this. It was a festival. Five schools and seven bands. Hick even pre-bowled for his league so he wouldn't miss the concert. My mom met us there, and we grabbed our seats (heh, heh, I said grabbed our seats) on the back row of the enormous field house that used to belong to a junior college. There was a bit of a draft because we were near the doors. But that was a good thing, because it blew away the stench of the bathrooms on the other side of us. Hick, always the manager of facility maintenance, mentioned that right off. "They could have at least cleaned the bathrooms for this thing." Then he launched into a diatribe about their overhead lighting that was terribly outdated. I nodded like I was listening.
Bands were flowing in all willy-nilly, staking out territory on the side of the huge oval behind the chairs set up for playing. I don't mean to sound judgmental, but I named every school without a one of them wearing any distinguishing uniforms. The countrified school whose girls like six-inch heels. The too-cool school whose guys favor pork-pie hats. The floor-length dress, white shirt/bow-tie school that sat calmly in their designated area without incident. And the host school whose members gamboled like great friendly puppies. Of course I knew OUR students as they entered single file, resplendent in their black slacks, white shirts, and shiny gray vests.
While the concert band that drew the first slot took advantage of the pre-concert thirty minutes to warm up with scales, a curious incident occurred. Hick, Mom, and I sat spying on The Pony, trying to determine who he was sitting by. No mean feat for me, as my vision was distorted by looking through the glass basketball backboard. I was ripped from my reverie by a finger tapping on my shoulder. A girl old enough to have graduated shoved a rolled up bill of indeterminate currency into my face. "Will you give this to Cletus Parmly?" (Not a real name).
"I don't know where he is."
"He's right down there on the front row."
"I don't want to walk down there!"
"Well, I don't want to walk down there."
"Oh, I don't mean right now. After."
"I'm not going to see him after."
"Never mind." She and an upper-elementary-age girl stood behind us for several minutes. Then they walked on around the large arena.
Really? REALLY? She expected me to hoist my ample behind off the back bleacher, hike around the field house, down all those steps, across the main floor to Cletus Parmely, and hand him money? W.T.F.? Do I look like a caseworker of some sort? Do I live at the freakin' school, and devote every after-school minute to minding the student body? Am I the all-powerful queen of our district who bestows riches upon select pupils? Just because I had the kid in class one year does not mean that I am responsible for him for the rest of his life. I was not wearing a school uniform to link me with our group. We were sitting nowhere near them. I was there on unofficial business. It's not like I was sponsoring a field trip. I was sitting with my family, for crying out loud! I have no idea who this girl was, or why she wanted to give Cletus money. I did not feel the least bit guilty for refusing her request.
I put my nose back in joint and settled down to hear some tunes. The second band to play was not the greatest, but they played one of my favorite selections, Shaker Dance. I was groovin' away through the first half when I noticed something was amiss. There was a strange sound not coming from the band. A kind of hissing sound. Up in the bleachers. To my right. It went on and on. I tore my eyes away from those fresh-scrubbed faces, earnestly tooting out the melody, and turned to seek the source of that infernal noise.
It was my mom. She was ripping a gripper strap of Velcro on the end of her coat sleeve. Trying to get it just the right tightness. Just the right alignment. Ripping it off to start over. On both sleeves. Egads! Try to feign interest until The Pony makes his debut! I did not say anything. She's my mom. And I'm her eight-dollar daughter, or her five-cent daughter, depending on the day. I let her get it out of her system. To her credit, that little band kind of fell apart mid-Shaker. It was as if they, themselves, had lost all interest in that piece. Poor things. They were only freshmen and sophomores, the lesser of the two bands brought by their school.
As if Mom's Velcro accompaniment was not bad enough, Hick had to horn in on the last act of the evening. It was nigh on nine o'clock by then. Mom had already left to go home and watch Mizzou get beat in the NCAA Tournament. I was leaning left, with my hand on the plastic bleacher, trying to realign my vertebrae. The symphonic band that capped off the evening was in full swing, filling the field house with horns and tympani. I felt the bleacher vibrate. "Oh," I thought. "Hick must have a phone call." We put our phones on vibrate, you see. Because we are basically a good concert audience, with the exception of Mom and her sartorial pecadillos.
I looked at Hick to see if he was taking his phone out of his belt holster. Maybe he didn't notice the vibration, what with it resting against the bleacher like that to make the whole seat vibrate. Then I smelled it. A hideous odor that could only have come from one place. I glared at Hick. "I can't believe you just did that!"
"You KNOW what! I'm choking from the stench."
"It's them bathrooms." He nodded his head over his left shoulder.
"You KNOW it's not the bathrooms! You shook the ENTIRE bleacher!"
Hick grinned. Let out a contented sigh. Then choked when he inhaled the backwash of his deed.
I may not have been the most cultured flower in that field house, but at least I managed to hold my flatulence in check and put off ripping sections of my outergaments until the concert was over.
I got class, see?