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
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