I have entered the seventh layer of Hell and there's only one explanation: I must've been a marching band director in a past life.
I have always been a person whose entire day is set to music. From the minute I wake up in the morning and get in the shower to the moment I go to bed I am surrounded by music of one kind or another. About the only time I choose not to listen to it is on my walks with Duncan, when I keep the iPod at home and listen instead to the sound of the park or the neighborhoods and trails we wander, but even then there is a natural music which plays: the breeze sifting through the Aspens along the lake shore, the laughter of the children chasing soccer balls across the grass, the thump of the basketballs on the courts, the heavy suck of air as the baseballs fly in the batting cages, swish and metal-on-cement skid of the kids at the skate park. And even on those rare occasions when silence has found me I always have my whistle.
But lately the unspeakable has happened and even though it's only been a week, I am going out of my friggin' mind. The local high school marching band has started practicing again. Sometimes I wonder if these kids attend class at all or if their merciless director just keeps them on the football field out back all day, parading up and down, back and forth, playing the same wretched chords of songs that sounded bad even before they added a litany of brass to them. They are there in the mornings on our 6:30 walks, the sound of the drums keeping time to our steps as the trumpets drift across the park, through the trees, battling the sound of the early morning traffic and construction on Bowles. And they are there again at night, louder and more strangled than they were at the crack of dawn when no one should be allowed to brandish an oboe or a tuba. Especially a tuba! And to make matters worse, they are no good. Downright awful in fact, and whichever sicko is doing whatever it is they're doing to that poor euphonium needs have their fingers removed! There should be laws! I'm just sayin'!
With apologies to John Philip Sousa and Professor Harold Hill, we need to face the facts and be honest: the only people who enjoy the sound of a marching band are its members and then only because they're actually participating. I'm sure even their parents would be hard-pressed to admit they actually enjoy it. After all, how many of these folks attend concerts after their children have gone on to bigger and more important adventures, like working at Starbucks or piercing their eyebrows? Simply put, the music is a form of torture and even on those occasions that call for it (parades, high school football games and the like) it's almost unendurable. When I was young, halftime at football games was not when we hunkered down and listened intently to the band geeks stumble through "Tequila," it was when we excused ourselves to pee or slipped outside to dance in the parking lot to Erasure or Frankie Goes to Hollywood, or hell, even Def Leppard while we drank beer. Even then, engulfed by the ignorance and arrogance of youth I knew better than to stick around for the damn band.
And so now, twenty years later the soundtrack of my walks has been replaced with yet another bad high school version of Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk," along with countless other tunes I have yet to decipher and I just know that if I don't keep myself in check, one of these mornings I'm going to march myself right over there, Duncan trotting loyally along behind me, to rip that damn whip out of someone's hands and do something with it that will ensure the bass trombone player won't be marching any longer.
*Image taken entirely without permission from Laughing Squid