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Wednesday
Feb022011

A Belle, a Leprechaun, and the Ohio State Drum Major Walk Into a Bar...

The bar is located on the corner of Transference and Compensation, in the tourist section of the Village of the Clashing Iconography.  I am beginning to feel rather sorry for the Drum Major, that I dragged him and his baton into all of this, as the Belle and the Leprechaun are not on speaking terms, and this has got to be somewhat awkward for someone who's probably more concerned with not, like, snapping his spine directly in half on a weekly basis.  Also he hasn't hit 21 yet, and a virgin rum and Coke is only going to get you so far through the night when  the other two members of your party are sitting there all arms-folded and glary.

This has mushroom clouded itself into not just an essay for my next book, which I rather thought it might be; but the more I tried to cram everything I had to say about it into a tidy 10-page chapter, the more it expanded.  I sucked up the bandwidth of the entire state of Michigan over the past two weeks watching video after video of the Ohio State Marching Band, and the more I watched, the more awed I became:  Are they singing in three-part harmony?  How on Earth are they sustaining this kind of sound quality while marching so fast?  Did those two guys just exchange cymbals by THROWING THEM TO EACH OTHER ACROSS THE MOTHER*&#^$% ROOM?

So there is going to be a book.  Not a tremendously long book, and not one you're going to want to read if you're on some sort of desperate search for the very latest word in spit valve technology, because if that's the case, I am just going to violently anger you.  But at the moment I'm making plans to shadow the band at various points in the upcoming year, talk to the directors, sit on the sidelines for a while, maybe figure out what they have that I don't--how they're able to write in ginormous perfect cursive across a football field when I cannot so much as board an average commuter train as without becoming hopelessly overwhelmed.

But all of this concerned Carah The BFFE so that she staged an intervention today,  one which may be summarized as:  "MB, OSUWTF?!"

"I know this is still killing you.  You have lost so much the past couple of years," she said (true; if fathers weren't dying a painful death, homes were burning to the ground or entire fleets of space shuttles were being retired.) "What can I do to help you make up with Notre Dame?" 

I assured her that this was not simply a matter of Lou Holtz standing on the roof of a Buick, blasting "In We are on a break.Your Eyes" from a cassette player roughly the size of an aircraft carrier.  This is not just about one thing, it's about a path and a pattern of behavior, one which deeply wounds me.  And the more I refuse to deal with it, the more it hurts; the more it hurts, the more I retreat... and I am weary of turning my head and spinning the shopping cart the long way around the Wal-Mart Electronics Department because the Notre Dame game is broadcast there on a thousand widescreen HDTVs.

So I'm going to apply the full sweep of knowledge I gained in my one entire semester of Psych 101 and posit that I was not so greatly moved by Script Ohio because I'm a sucker for a really spiffy drum line.  There is something going on here about home, and identity, and you and me and how we choose them, try them on, accept or reject them, love them and leave them.  And that's no moon essay... that's a space station book.

The Drum Major has a name, by the way.  It's Jason.  He's a sophomore business major from Avon Lake, Ohio, and we talked on the phone this week.  Seems like a pretty nice kid.  I'm fairly certain that he is not the type of student I am often tempted drop-kick out of my own classroom, the kind who hands in midterm essays typed in 72-point Copperplate Gothic Extra Bold and beginning with the words "Since the dawn of time, you may have noticed that human kind has done many things which are still going strong and effecting society today."  Jason says he is OK with me curling up in the corner with my Kleenex while he orders the trombones around and battles evil with his baton.

I tried to warn him.  I said: "I need to write about you, because you're more than just you out there on that football field to many, many people. And I write from wreckage and pain and I am wringing out issues which have nothing to do with you or cymbals or colleges, even.  This isn't going to be like any media interview you've ever given before."

I forget what he replied because I was crying and probably also eating vanilla icing directly from the tub at the moment, but I'm sure his words were well-modulated and precise and excellent and all.  In the meantime, Leprechaun, we are on a break, magically delicious as you are. 

But I will sit at the table with you.

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