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.