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Wednesday
Sep282011

Passing Bells and Sculpted Angels

There is no possible comfortable way to hold this hat.

You can hold it under your arm, but, well-- the tassel.  And the plastic interior, and the fur, and the fact that large to medium-sized cylindrical objects are rarely easily balanced against the average human hipbone. Upside down by the chin strap is a possibility, but that runs the risk of dragging the plume on the ground, and, as I am given to understand, it doesn't belong there unless under specific circumstances.  

So D-Row holds the hat in the Drum Major's stead.  Sometimes this becomes a group project.

The little rubber pellets which somewhat cushion the pounding spinal blows of strutting and the thuds of an arriving roundoff can fly back up into a Drum Major's face.  They cling to the short white fur in scattered constellations which tell tales of effort, exertion, and potential dishevelment.  This must not be.  

So D Row grooms it.

It is an obstruction to high hand-over-hand twirling, both by plume placement and sheer weight. Alex Who Talks Real Pretty tells me that the constant pull of the tight chin strap holds the jaw in close and inhibits the ability to draw a deep breath-- the very thing marking the Drum Major as the Drum Major fighting him with each inhale, each swing of the arm as he hauls down ramp and upfield.

It can throw you off-balance, but never off-duty.  During the backbend of ramp, the hat and the baton are in a constant slow counterbalance, warring icons with the incumbent Drum Major bridging the middle.  Once I saw Jason The Ridiculously Awesome Drum Major pause at an opportune moment in a dress rehearsal, rip off his hat, frown into its depths, jam his hand inside to adjust something, return it to the top of his head, and resume twirling with a beatific halftime smile as though the two had never been separated.  It happened in the space of a trumpet flash, and it happened because even now, with all his practice and all his composure and considerable resistance to physical discomfort, this is one damned awkward piece of headgear. 

Like all things Drum Major, there is nothing inherently natural about having this... thing... on high.  On the day before the first football game of the season, I occupied a seat just behind Jason and Kyle Who Owns, both in full busby; Jason sat serenely in his folding chair, but every time I looked at Kyle-- himself an accomplished high school drum major and experienced twirler-- he was sharply shaking his head side to side, taking his hat off, putting it back on, adjusting the lining, examining the exterior, grimacing, standing up, sitting down, and in general having a whale of a first date with a sleek and beautiful woman who also happened to have the personality of a particularly autocratic hall monitor. What was familiar but chafing equipment to Jason was, for his entirely capable but brand-new assistant, a metaphor with a chin strap.  For by the same time the following week, Kyle and his hat had come to, if not an outright peace, a certain cessation of hostilities.

From the stands, you see the backbends with the entire band blasting, upside down for several seconds to one single person in Ohio Stadium.  You see the name on the Jumbotron and the flashbulb meteor showers of the jump catches and the cell phone photo requests, but you do not see this business with the hat adjustment.  And you don't see the administrative meetings, or the dense insulating layers of alumni expectations, or the paperwork, or the backtucks and the backtucks and the backtucks alone in the damp dusk on the practice field.  You cannot see the light that flickers right out of Jason's eyes when he even so much as mentions the painful elimination process of Band tryouts. 

There is no possible comfortable way to hold this hat.

But the very reason it's so tall and so conspicuous is so that the Band can find its Drum Major during parades or the constantly melting positions of the marching drills; if for some reason they cannot hear the whistle, they see the scarlet wave of the plume.  He must, by virtue of his position, be set apart from the crowd.  It is a duty which reaches far beyond smiling real big for the people in the eleventy-seventh row.

And that is why, for some people, for a certain fleeting amount of time, the only possible place for this hat is right on the head.

Today's Tasting Room Musical Note is sponsored by the tip of the spear:

Video by pending YouTube sensation mbandfan2

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