High school football starts today, which means it's time to get excited about watching kids I don't know play a game about which I don't care so I can enjoy the marching band for fifteen minutes during half-time.
Our Daughter marched in the band during her four high school years. We marched along right behind her, loading trucks, chaperoning special trips, hauling pit equipment onto the field, and volunteering at band competitions across central North Carolina every fall. There's nothing like six consecutive Saturdays eating band competition concession pizza, combined with six Fridays eating football game concession cheeseburgers, to help ensure you won't need a belt to hold up your pants by the end of the season. If the concession food isn't bad enough, then there's all the tailgating.
People don't bring health food to tailgating. You bring five boxes of Little Caesar's pizza and a basket of home-baked pretzels, or buffalo chicken dip and chips, or deep-fried jalapeno poppers. You bring the Colonel's chicken, or Mexican black been taco salad, or bowls of pulled pork barbecue and cornbread. You bring sliders, or pigs in blankets, or cookies and cakes. The family that brings vegan hummus-stuffed lettuce coils in a balsamic chanterelle reduction does not get invited to the next tailgate party because you don't need all that fiber and roughage coursing through your colon when you're facing four-hours of bleacher squatting on a hot night.
Weight gain aside, marching band season is a manic, sleep-deprived time filled with dramatic highs and emotional lows. Instruments will break, uniforms will tear, notes and steps will be missed, and the weather will gradually change from hot and humid to freezing damn cold. Concurrently, awards will be won, routines will be flawlessly executed, camaraderie will blossom, and important life lessons will be learned. The kids somehow manage to keep up with school work while dedicating weeknights and weekends to performing and practicing. The adults somehow manage to make it all happen football game after football game, band competition after band competition, without killing one another or their kids.
Tonight's season opening home football game marks our return to the marching band scene as our sons, both rising freshmen, take up their instruments. The German plays the sax, the Italian the trumpet. By all accounts, the German is loving it and will probably stick with it all four years. The Italian is enjoying himself, but has his eyes fixed on other interests, so this season might be his only marching band experience. Regardless, the two of them have spent the past few weeks immersing themselves in a demanding group activity and developing friendships with kids from all grades.
As the usual suspects gather at the high school auditorium this evening, we will follow the double-line of uniformed marchers to the stadium to take our seats and wait, as we do every year, for the football teams to get off the marching band field.
2016 Mark Feggeler