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Just before Drum Major tryouts, I walked into a practice site under the cheerful escort of David Who Got My Purse and found, standing at the 50, the defender of the title.  Coach Greg Eyer was also present, and various members of D-Row were scattered about in various stages of twirl.  I needed a place to put my purse.

Jason The Ridiculously Awesome Drum Major knew at least one of us watching, because what happened next was this:  He unleashed an aerial, and he threw the baton so hard that it crashed against the ceiling and slammed back to the fake grass turf.  And Jason stood stock still, stared into space with studied indignation, and let the thing drop without taking a single step in its direction.  A couple times or more he did this, applying such torque that BAM steel met roof and whoooooosssshpinnnnng down it came again, entirely without the otherwordly whoosh-whoosh warbling of a servant baton properly meeting its master.  

The admittedly hilarious after-drop posturing ended right quick, because this was in fact serious business.  In case of rain, the tryouts would be held here...indoors...roof included.  And a whoooooosssshpinnnnng is not a noise people want to hear the Head Drum Major producing.

But Jason is Jason and very soon he was sending the baton into the air with precisely the right amount of force, so that it blew the ceiling an air kiss but demurely ended the date there and sailed right back to daddy. 

I mocked him about all this, of course.

"Thanks.  Great.  You just made a total liar out of me," I told him when he visited us in bleachers.  "I told all my readers that every Drum Major knows exactly how much juice to put on the baton in any given space so that the ceiling is safe."

"Oh, there's only one level of juice," he said.  "Maximum juice."

This is true outside, and in Jason's case, because pretty much without particularly trying he can chuck the baton higher, tighter, with better control, and with more chance of a catch than just about anybody... and I've seen stronger, taller, and younger people try to outdo him head to head.  A Jason aerial is identifiable from at least a football field away, even with eight to ten batons flashing past at the same time; you see it and you just know it-- it's kind of like hearing Sinatra's voice, or seeing Secretariat's gait:  "Oh, that's him." 

It's not a matter of raw power--Jason, much to many female The Readers' horror, stands five foot nine and weighs 140 (and less than that, ladies, once the season is in full swing)--it's a simple, scientific matter of finesse, practice, timing on the release, and pure unadulterated Awesome.  The man loves his aerials.

Aren't we lucky.

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