Memorial Day Uh, Remembered

oh my god you have no idea how much i hated memorial day from grades 6 to 12.

i certainly mean no disrespect to our country's servicepeople, it's just that i really hate parades. especially local parades that have no discernible entertainment value (look! it's the old guys in the tiny cars! look! it's the group of people in green t-shirts with flags! look it's some vaguely attractive blond woman in a bikini in the backseat of a convertible! yay for america!). but i hate the local parades even more so when i have to be in them, admitting to the entire town that yes, i am in the marching band.

and so starting in 6th grade i had to be carted downtown at an ungodly hour (pre-sunrise) to get into "formation" (clusters) with the other people in my middle school band. which meant basically standing around.

and you know what isn't a nice sound? 11, 12, and 13 year olds "warming up" on instruments they can, for the most part, barely play at 5:45 a.m. on what will eventually become one of the hottest day of the year. every year.

i will also never forget what i had to wear for those middle-school year parades. our school band issued shirts, which were royal blue with gold lettering and had collars (that we had to turn up because we may have been in band but dammit, we could still be hip). and then we had to pair the shirts with white pants.

and let me tell you, even at 11 years old i was still aware of my ass necessitating an aversion to white pants.

and then we would stand at the beginning of the parade route forEVER, waiting for our turn to go. and then we would go and try and look and sound impressive, but we weren't because we were a middle-schoool marching band and had been practicing "marching" while actually playing our one patriotic song for only like three weeks. and you know the jokes about walking and chewing gum? yeah.

once on the actual parade route (so ugly, by the way) we would alternate between "marching" (walking) and standing still waiting for the cue to "march" (walk) again. for like, four hours.

and for what? i was never entirely sure how forcing awkward adolescents with squeaky instruments in unflattering and uncomfortable clothes to walk in "formation" (clusters) while sweating disgustingly served as any sort of homage to war veterans.

it did allow for parents to take reels of unsightly pictures the likes of which i will never live down. which i suppose in its own right is patriotic. but whatever.

then by the time i hit high school, i developed a whole new level of parade-hating.

marching band is marching band and i was in it and committed to it and fine. it was a summer/fall thing and we had competitions and performed at football games and otherwise had concerts but we were not in a situation where The Public was exposed to our marching-bandness, you know?

but then every friggin' spring we'd be reminded that we'd have to put on our HEAVY polyester BAND UNIFORMS and learn some lame-ass marching routine to perform in not one but TWO local parades.

and it would always be hot. and horrible. and there would be endless photo-taking, just like jr. high. except by the time we were in high school we had to be all "disciplined" and actually not embarrass ourselves which meant no talking, no socializing, only moving as one unit or standing rigidly at attention. i swear. (though sometimes we could stand at what is called, in band terms, "parade rest." i am not making that command up at all.)

and then. my senior year i was the drum major. do you know what that means? it means many things, but mostly it meant that i couldn't hide under a lame band hat with plume and fade into the woodwind section, it meant that i now had to march at the FRONT of the band gaggle and CONDUCT the band while marching backwards in a special uniform. so while the entire band got to be in blue, i was given the special distinction of wearing -- yes, of course -- white. white polyester skirt, white polyester top complete with horizontal blue stripes. uh huh.

and so those eleven parades will haunt me for the rest of my life and will be why i always make it a point to spend my memorial days sleeping in and wearing lightweight cotton.


  1. oohhh my fellow band-geekette. were you flute or clarinet? All I can say is, therapy will help. and wine.

  2. heeey your birthday is july 4th? me too )

  3. I was in marching band too, playing clarinet with braces and always getting lip gloss on my reed. We had to wear heavy wool uniforms from the 1950s, complete with epaulets, arm braids, and furry black tall-hats. Our big parade was Labor Day, where it could be counted on to top 105 degrees at 2PM, which is when the parade was held. We usually marched last in the parade, trying to remain in formation while avoiding the horse bombs littering the road. But somehow I didn't think I was a geek for being in the band! Till now. Thanks.

  4. Ooh, I played the trombone... Boneheads got to lead. (Of course, this was my college band, which couldn't march to save its life, and the parade we did every year was the Halloween one in Greenwich Village.)

  5. thanks for bringing up such *fond* memories for me as well. though as a member of the color guard (captain, actually. i'm so proud), i was at least able to wear a 'dress' instead of polyester. a GOLD SPANDEX dress. now that's hot. and singlehandedly (so i tell myself) responsible for me being dateless until senior year.

  6. Kristy~

    Thank you soo much for reminding me of the oh so many parades I was also in.....also in marching band...I was one of my high school color guard captains...I was the ID line captain...our uniforms were grey pants with white tuxedo shirt, whith a grey vest thing ontop of that...then we had grey top hats!!! with a red seqin band around it. Ahhhh the good ol days!

  7. *LOL* Ah, yes, marching band. I played the clarinet. My "favorite" parade of marching season was always the Milwaukee Circus Parade. A five hour bus ride followed by at least 2 hours of marching in 90+ heat and 100% humidity in those oh so stylish poly/wool blend uniforms with my massive head and bunched up hair threatening to blow that plastic cowboy hat with the plume in it right off my head. And then the five hour bus ride back of course. Oh, those were the days... Thanks for the trip down memory lane, I think.

  8. Try wearing suede with an a full Indian headdress like the chief's wear. AWFUL and HOT!

  9. At least you got to do something interesting while in the parade. I started dance classes when I was 5 and eventually taught at the same studio.

    For some reason, they decided it would be great for us to be in the Christmas parade every year.

    When you are young, you just ride in a truck and try to hit people with candy.

    When you get into your teens, you get to have pom poms and do a little "cheerleader" routine.

    When you are a teacher, you have to be sure the little ones doesn't get run over or left behind.

  10. You think you had it rough? I just wanted to play golf, but no, Mom insisted we get there just after dropping you off so we could get "strategic seating" on some curbside. You only had to march. I had to, after hours of just sitting in the ever-increasing heat, watch all the other junior high and high bands, plus the fez-topped men in little scooters doing magical figure-eights, plus all the "social clubs", such as the Sisters of the Tabernacle of Saint Dominica or some such that was formed basically so a bunch of drunks could have a place where they served $.75 whiskeys. I suppose next you're going to tell me how "tough" it was at Mrs. Gildersleeve's piano recitals. Love, Dad.

  11. ah, yes, marching band... the main reason I begged my mom to let me quit the sax and become a yearbook geek instead...

  12. LOL - Oh no, Kristy - yet another thing we have in common! Just last week, I was combing through old memories, trying to think of dorky things from my childhood to write about in my blog, and had lingered a while on the fateful junior high years of DRILL TEAM! Which meant I got to march along with the marching band and do all sorts of annoying little hand movements. Which meant that we were like cheerleaders, but not quite. Oh, and yes, let's not forget the fact that even though I was on the drill team, but not quite as dextrous at the hand movements as the rest of the girls... In other words, I was a drill team second stringer, chosen especially for my ability to march for miles and miles holding a lettered sign. To be precise, the "O" from the word "YORBA" which was the name of my junior high school. Which led to finger sweating, finger cramping, and all-around parade-hating. Yes, me too!

  13. Sacre Bleu!!! That damn marching band. We had to practice before and after school during football season (coincidently the best waves for surfing were in the fall) so I quit the band in favor of surfing and took French class. I loved band class, CLASS, not marching, but I gave it up for surfing. I still have my trombone, but damn if I can paddle a surfboard anymore, and my French pretty much sucks too,...

    je n'est sais pas.....

  14. um, the funny thing is that i feel like i just read an entry i would have written. man alive, i HATED memorial day because of the parade. i actually liked marching band during football season, but i hated those parades in the spring. halloween was the only parade i ever liked, because we got to wear costumes. anyways, i too was drum major, and ALWAYS destroyed the salute. but, Fabio (the other drum major) always messed up conducting. i knew what was important at least.
    woah. band nerd. thats me.

  15. We didn't have a parade here in Afghanistan for Memorial Day. Would have drwan too many rockets. We just worked all we usually do. Ya'll sleep OK last night. Thats good...I'll be at the front gate checking for hidden weapons like I always do.

  16. Dude, I was a flute player, and I was slightly nerdy (okay, REALLY nerdy) but I live in Seattle, dude, and you can barely get people to toke up together here. Much less march.

  17. I was in a marching band in the Bronx. At least we got shot at once in a while we all were wishing they would hit us.

    Of course it was the south bronx we had 2 Saxs, 1 Drum and a triangle.

    Just kidding, I was never in band. My nerdiness was beyond help.



  18. When I was in high school, I wasn't even cool enough to actually BE a band geek...I was a Band Geek Hanger On. I dated a clarinetist.

    Her uniform was a red and white wool tunic with matching red pants and a 14-inch tall fuzzy white hat. She herself was all of 5'1" and weighed 95 pounds, unless she was in uniform, when she weighed 110 pounds, or 120 pounds with the hat. The pants were about 6 inches too long, so she'd roll them up at the ankles.

    When she stepped out of that uniform after the Memorial Day Parade, she looked as though she'd stepped out of the pool.

    I suggested that she wear her bikini under it the next time, but she declined, saying that 1) the wool pants chafe and 2) I'm a pervert.


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  20. Kristy-
    I am laughing my ass off! Not so much in mocking your painful polyester memories, but rather my own. You have an amazing way of bringing back the three months of hell that was marching band in full, vivid technicolor! Blazing heat, trying to walk straight, my lips hurting so much they felt like they would fall off (I played trumpet). We marched in a different parade, like, every week. Some parts were fun, like watching a fellow band member stepping in horseshit. Can you imagine how hard it is to play and instrument while you're trying not to laugh?

  21. Look at all of the band geeks coming out of the wood work! Our uniforms were also hot and we used to have people passing out in them all of the time. Especially during parades. Although we did get to march in the Disney World parades twice. That was cool. We got to see "behind the scenes".

  22. i don't believe any of that. in order to prove it, you should really dig up a picture and post it. just sayin'.

    -el snarkster

  23. Yeah, our uniforms were black and gold polyester (way to soak up the South Georgia sun!) with white polyester pants.
    Only, I was on the drumline...carrying a bass drum. Only girl on the line. Tell me I didn't stand out!

  24. All I can say is flourescent orange, turtle neck, wool dickies underneath a black polyester blazer. That pretty much sums it up right there :)

    I always felt bad for the "big" kids who couldn't fit into the adjustable polyester pants. Marching band was such a traumatic extra-curriculur activity at times!

    p.s. Love ur blog!! It's apart of my everyday work routine :)

  25. Our band did "Disney Magic Music Days" one year. The only part of that trip that wasn’t so magic was the marching. Otherwise, under supervised high school kids at hotel and theme park = good times had by all.


  27. Love it!

    Brought back lots for me too- playing at Disneyland for the Junior High jazz band. Clearly white pants are a critical part of performing well in the 11-14 age group. I changed from flute to tenor sax in junior high thinking it would be more exciting...

    Definitely bring on a picture or two if your mother still has the archives- classic.

  28. Hm. At my school it was really difficult to become Drum Major. You had to audition. You had to choose to audition. For that matter, you had to choose to be in the marching band.

    Methinks perhaps you are trying to hide your true marching band love???

    Don't be a hater! Show some Marching Band Pride!

  29. omg, that brought back so many memories! but i also remembered that in my group of band nerd friends... we thought we were cooler than the rest of the band and we would make fun of the drum major. but i'm sure you were great! PARADE REST!


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