A Childhood Hero
One of my childhood heroes was a young man that taught me the meaning of “marching on” in the face of adversity. I have no idea what his name is or where he is today. If you recognize yourself in this story let me know. I’ve always wanted to tell you how much I admired your courage.
When I was in high school I was in the marching band. Not a great image building experience, but to be in the regular band, you had to be in the marching band as well. Every year our band competed with other schools from around the state. Just think, a full day of watching marching band half time shows performed by high school kids – not all of them talented.
One of the rules of marching is that you absolutely have to stay in formation. Worst case scenario, you drop your instrument and you have to march on pretending to play an imaginary instrument. Trust me, air piccolo is not as cool as air guitar. I always thought that was the worst possible thing that could happen until one day I saw something worse.
Marching band uniforms, at least in rural IL, came in a couple of different size options – fat or skinny and short or tall. Inevitably, there was always some scrawny kid who got the short end of the deal and ended up with a uniform a couple of sizes too big. There is a reason those uniforms come with suspenders, but they are not always foolproof.
One day, we were watching the competition with the usual lack of attention of a bunch of high school kids who would rather be somewhere else on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Suddenly everyone started pointing to one of the coronet players. (At least I think it was coronet. It’s been awhile.) Was it our imagination or were his pants riding low on his hips? Remember, this was way before letting your underwear show out of the top of your pants was fashionable. Back then, doing this meant you were in for a major wedgie.
As his band continued to play his pants got lower and lower. We kept expecting him to stop playing and fix them. But no, this kid took competition seriously and he wasn’t about to cost his school points. Eventually his pants ended up around his ankles and he just marched out of them while continuing to play. In case you are wondering, you wear shorts under your uniform, so it’s not as bad as it sounds.
I don’t know if the judges take away points for losing your pants and continuing to march. If I were a judge, I would have awarded points to this school and given a special award to the student. I can only imagine how mortified he was. I know I would have been! But now and then, when something embarrassing happens to me in my career, I think to myself, “at least I still have my pants.”
To the young man, who is no longer young, your courage was an inspiration. I hope you recovered from the incident and that your friends didn’t razz you too much. You were an inspiration!