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I sometimes have a habit of beginning conversations in the middle of the intellectual desert, assuming that the other party is leaning back on the same palm tree.  Throughout the course of my life, I have met exactly two people who actually are. One of them is Carah The BFFE, and our conversations sound like this:

ME:  I feel like it's almost the same as that time when...

CARAH: Exactly.

ME:  But not so.... you know...

CARAH:  Mmmm-hmmmm.  And when--

ME:  Oh please don't mention that.


ME:  Shut up.

Jason, on the other hand, makes me accountable.  Prompted by my inability to explain myself, I have garnered several "Say what now?"s, at least two "WTF"s, and, at one point, a broken-sounding "I am confused."  He is not alone, poor traveller; but the conversations I have in this vein are also rare--and it tends to be with the people I have formed the fastest-bonding, most emotionally honest, longest-lasting friendships.   I think it's because we are sympatico in other ways and on many other topics, and so I easily assume that we're sharing a seat on the same roller coaster, when unbeknownst to me he jumped off thirty seconds ago in the middle of the double-helix and is standing in the Icee line.  In a different amusement park.  In another country.  On the opposite hemisphere.

Given what I can discern from our conversations, Jason thinks like who he is:  An intelligent, left-brained, detail-oriented, action-driven alpha -- but then there's this creative streak which renders him dangerously and marvellously uncategorizable.  It's like God got done making him, stepped back, and said, "There!  No... wait.  You know what, while bowling, he should turn around after strikes, throw his arms out, and sink slowly to the floor while taunting his enemies and assorted haters," and then flicked the embryo accordingly.

I rather like this about Jason.  It means that he refuses to snap into place like a Tab A, Slot B personality, and those people, although they plod admirably through rush hour each morning with the weight of the world on their Kias, aren't going to catch your attention from Row 95 Billion, Section 75, Seat ZZ of Ohio Stadium. 

In terms of Drum Major performance, he is the perfectly legitimate love child of Josh Halter and Stewart Kitchen--a traditionally and dynamically tuned, second-nature twirling machine who throws spectacular tricks with one hand while keeping a steady hand on the rudder of the Band with the other.  Alex, on the other hand, has several times described himself to me as a bedrock of consistency, the last of the "power Drum Majors" whose imposing frame and almighty yard-eating strut made the opposing team draw back a bit from the sidelines:  If this is their marching band, what's the football team like? 

And so I have much to learn from Alex-- as an alum, as one who has seen his era end and reached into the next.  I need him to tell me what that was like, and I need him to put it in a way another English major can understand.  But Jason's story, while issuing from my keyboard, must come through him and him alone:  Left-brained, detail-oriented, and utterly, swervingly streaky.

I am told that alum Drum Major Matt Bally says that "The right person is always the Drum Major"-- meaning that if it's time for the perfectly legitimate love child of Josh Halter and Stewart Kitchen, then it's time for the perfectly legitimate love child of Josh Halter and Stewart Kitchen.  That goes for the style of the program, the personality of the Band, the leadership watermark of the Drum Major... and the author of the book.

As in the American Revolution and the day man landed on the Moon, everyone is exactly where they should be.  With perhaps somewhat less dramatic, world-shaking results, maybe. 

But not by much.

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