Thursday, April 23, 2009

Not So Dirty Little Secret

For those of you who know me on The Facebook, this probably is no shocker, because most of my "friends" on The Facebook are from my hometown. For those of you blissfully unaware of the infamous and ridiculous social networking site that is The Facebook, know that it is a total mindfuck battlefield. People who didn't talk to you more than twice in high school are now "friending" you. You see thousands of pictures of their children. You find out that one of your cousin's old roommates once went on a date with your boyfriend. And secrets that you thought were deeply buried have a way of clawing back to the surface.

So I have a secret, and it's not a huge deal, really, except that being a member of this high school group isn't going to make me any cooler than you all probably don't think I am anyway.

(What? I thought that sentence made total sense.)

I was in the high school band.

Sigh. I was outed by my former band director, who posted a ton of band nerd photos for EVERYONE TO SEE.

But yes. It's true. I was a band dork. I played the most bitchingly awesome instrument available to me, however: the saxophone. In sixth grade, my parents wanted me to play the flute, and I was all, "The flute? Fuck that, the flute fucking sucks. I'm playing the saxophone." And they, happy that I wanted to be in the band at all, especially since my trashy hometown didn't have an orchestra, gave in (oh man, did my dad want me to play the violin...).

Plus, having band as a class meant that I didn't have to take gym. And though I wasn't opposed to exercise, per se, getting sweaty would have meant having to redo my hair and when you are a girl in middle school in 1993, you can imagine what an Aqua Net nightmare that would have been.

And? I legitimately liked playing the saxophone. I was teased, but that was concurrent with the sixth grade glasses and brace-face phase. "But it is bigger than me," I agreed with the mean boys, "so it's not that funny." And I really didn't think that being called "Lisa Simpson" was that much of an insult.

Then in high school? I went to band camp. I did. For four years. And there were definitely moments worthy of "this one time, at band camp," but as we learned from Michelle in American Pie, they would mean nothing to you unless you were there.

In general, being in the high school band - at least in my hometown - wasn't horrible. Sure, its members were mostly the creme de la creme of nerdery, but there were a ton of stereotypically popular people thrown in for good measure. Guys who also played football and ran track, girls on the cheerleading squad and volleyball team - a good mix. Lots of us were on student council (although... that's kind of nerdy, too, isn't it? Sigh). But really, in my area, our band was huge - we had over 200 people. Most bands in the surrounding towns had maybe half that. We thought we were the shit.

The months before my freshman year began, we were thrown into a summer of intense practices before we even went to camp. We got to know the upperclassmen, which wasn't as scary as we expected, and it slowly dawned on us that we had a lot of work ahead. And we nervously awaited camp.

We were on edge that we, like every single freshman class before us, were going to be hazed into the ground. Our director pissed off everyone (but us) by putting a ban on hazing starting that summer, and we escaped being covered in shaving cream, peanut butter, and glitter and getting thrown in the lake. Thank God.

Camp was tiring, exhausting, draining, and sunburningly hot. We were stuck in cabins with our entire class. It was freezing in the mornings. Each year at Karaoke Night, we had to endure the senior class singing "Summer Lovin," and the last night at camp was always a cryfest.

But in the end? Those four years were a total fucking blast. I got to know really nice, really smart people I would have never had the courage to talk to in school. I dated a junior when I was a freshman. I got to act as a mentor in my senior year. Friendships solidified into lasting, lifelong relationships.

It's hard to explain, really. I suppose that it is just like going to any other themed camp. If you're not in it, you just won't get it.


Em said...


Heather said...

em - I know.

Melissa Lew said...

Heather, Laurel told me about your blog and the day I finally checked it (which was weeks ago), this was the post that was up. Now I have a confession...

I, too, did marching band. I, however, was a flag twirler, a rifle chucker, and a sabre spinner. A flaggot (that's what my school called us), if you will.

But, I one up-ed you. Not only did I do 4 years of high school marching band, but I married a band director. The universe is a funny place. We didn't even go to the same high school. But 5 years beyond my "glory days", I met my future husband and soon-to-be high school band director, Corey.

Now I relive my marching band days through his kids and their experiences - every band trip, every incestuous band couple, every football, and every rehearsal. It is a constant cycle, but I wouldn't change it or my marching experience for the world.

Glad that you "came out". :)

Heather said...

melissa - Hi! Yeah, we called them flaggots, too. I see now that it probably wasn't very nice. I was embarrassed about this part of my past for so long, and then I realized that I had to embrace it. I had a blast and made wonderful friends, and I was pretty kick ass with the sax-a-ma-phone.