My 2nd Lt took off for a well deserved trip to Las Vegas this morning. He left me with piles of electronic equipment, kitchen utensils, cleaning supplies, toiletries, clothing, mysterious military gear, bed and bath linens, and enough shoes (size 13) to make Imelda Marcos wince. These heaps of his bachelor life are currently residing in his sister's old bedroom which, ordinarily, would not be a problem, except SHE is due home on Thursday and needs a place to sleep. So while Brent relaxes in his 1200 square foot suite with the wraparound terrace at The Cosmopolitan (slogan: Just the right amount of wrong), I am trying to sort through the mess and organize things for the second leg of his move to Louisiana (slogan: Just all kinds of wrong). It was during this process that I found an essay he wrote five years ago as a high school senior. I think it's supposed to be some sort of Band Last Will and Testament. I have no clue why he's hung onto it all this time, but I think it deserves a wider audience...
FROM: Brent, the Poster Child for Human Stupidity
Attending high school, I've picked up some folksy wisdom to which I have deemed necessary to apportion to the ignorant masses, namely the younger kids and freshmen (whom I feel very sorry for). For the sake of ease and relative consistency, I shall divulge with you the keys to make your life in band --- at the very least --- a mediocre venture.
Step 1: Nobody likes an attention whore. The attention whores in band during my tenure shall remain nameless, but there were a fair few who, day by day, made me want to gouge my eyes out and fill the sockets with cyanide. I'm talking about the people who can never seem to keep their traps shut, or the ones who always felt like they should make their presence noticed by the 200-some-odd members of the band. I honestly don't care about your Significant Other problems, or the myths about how much your life sucks. It's high school, people. If you can wake up in a nice warm house, take a shower every morning, and eat a hot meal every day, you're already better off than 90% of the people in the world. Why don't you try and realize that you are not the center of the universe, and that people have selective hearing. We really do not care if your boyfriend cheated on you. Once you recognize that any kind of social life in high school will mean absolutely nothing when you reach college, you may begin to understand the absurdity of your "problems".
Step 2: Don't yell loudly. This is really something that only I noticed throughout my years in band. If it's 7:00 in the morning and I've already started daydreaming, I'd prefer it if you keep the noise to a dull chatter. My ears started to bleed once because the hallways make the sound resonate.
Step 3: Don't be an idiot. It astounds me sometimes that the kids of my generation can be so stupid. Think before you act. If you are about to do something that you think might have undesirable consequences, then just don't do it. It's that simple. But if, for whatever reason, you still decide to go ahead, at least I have the joy of knowing that Social Darwinism has some kind of merit to it. It warms my heart to know that some of you fools will probably be working for me 20 years from now.
Step 4: Don't spend too long in your underwear in the dressing room. It's not exactly comforting knowing that your fireballs are dangling about, with only a thin layer of cotton shielding me from a lifetime of horror. It's just creepy, too.
Step 5: There seem to be a lot of grudges held in band. Don't be a person that makes enemies easily. Again, this isn't Communist Russia, it's high school. It's understandable if you don't relate well with one person, but don't make it a point to spread lies and rumors about others. We're supposed to be a family, but then again, many families argue about trivial things which I guess makes the whole "family" idea a valid point. But still, just don't be an a$$hole.
Step 6: Be funny. Everybody loves a comedian. It's especially funny when someone cracks a joke during one of those awkward silences that occur after an argument. You know what I'm talking about. When the air is so thick with tension that you swear you could cut it with a butter knife.
Step 7: Respect the Directors. It may be a "cool" thing to be a rebel and all, but the Directors are providing you with a free education. They do more work in one day than many of you have done in your entire life. Listen to them, too. Some of the stuff they say actually has some benefit in the real world.
Above all, just be yourself. There is nothing worse than someone who offers a fake personality just to fit in or be popular. Stop living idealistically and look at things realistically. Get out of the "ME! ME! ME!" mentality and think of others for once.
So, there you have it, all you current and future band geeks. Basically, if you can be gregariously funny in a smart, quiet, non-whorish way; remaining true to yourself while considerately keeping your pants on as you pay attention to your directors, high school band will be a breeze and you will live to procreate the next generation. Capisce?
Prunella (aka Mom)
Texas A&M Band, circa 1902: http://repository.tamu.edu/handle/1969.1/114627
"Fun" Facts About Deer Vehicle Collisions
Per State Farm Insurance and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
1. If you live in West Virginia, you have about a 1 in 40 chance of having a close encounter of the unfortunate kind with a deer over a 12 month period.
2. Hawaii is the safest state to avoid a DVC. Your risk over a 12 month period is roughly the same as getting hit by lightning over your lifetime.
3. In Texas, where I live, the odds are 1 in 334.
4. Between July, 2011 and June, 2012, 1.23 MILLION collisions in the U. S. involved the presence of deer.
5. The average property damage cost was $3,305.
6. Approximately 200 Americans are killed in DVCs annually, and more than 10,000 are injured.
7. Thankfully, I am not one of the statistics listed in #6 above.
Yep, boys and girls, that is deer fur you see embedded in the driver's side running board of my SUV. The only proof I have of my encounter with Bambi yesterday morning. Prior to this the largest animal I've ever hit was a squirrel who lost playing Chicken.
I was on my way to Lawton, OK to help my son with phase 1 of his move to Louisiana. About 30 miles or so south of Wichita Falls on Hwy 287 (northbound lanes), I was attempting to gauge when it was safe to merge back into the driving lane after passing an 18-wheeler, when there was a tremendous jolt on the left side. My first split-second thought was that I had run over something in the road, something I had failed to see due to my preoccupation with the semi-truck. I looked in my side view mirror just in time to see that "something" go flying back and out to the left and, more ominously, a spray of chunky stuff. I knew it had to be a deer. The reason I knew this was because I had passed a deer crossing sign not five minutes previously.
I have passed many of these ubiquitous signs and have never seen anything resembling a deer by the highway. So no surprise when I gave this particular sign with its "next 10 miles" scant attention. Call me crazy, but I'm a lot more concerned with people in cars than deer on the hoof.
I pulled over onto the shoulder and the trucker I had just passed pulled up behind me. He had witnessed the collision and wanted to make sure I was okay, so here's a shout-out to this Knight of the Road for his caring gesture. He certainly affirmed my faith in the basic goodness of people. We both looked at my SUV and except for the hair on the running board, there was no visible damage. I still find it hard to believe the impact didn't leave a dent.
Thinking it over, I'm very glad I never saw Bambi bearing down on me. The deer presumably charged from clear across the other side of the highway and then across a wide grassy median before plowing into my vehicle (see the picture above). If I had seen the animal, I don't know how I would have reacted and what chain of events might have been set in motion in the wake of that --- especially at 75 mph and with an 18-wheeler to my right. I was lucky. Bambi, not so much. I feel badly that I killed the poor thing, and I hope it was instantaneous. I would hate to think it suffered, even for just a few seconds.
On the return trip that afternoon, you can bet I had a lot more respect for that simple sign and what it represents.
Deer Crossing Sign: http://littlewhitelion.com/hilarious-signs-that-prove-people-have-a-sense-of-humor-13-pics-34183/
Highway 287: http://www.aaroads.com/texas/us-287nn_tx.html
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