Last night, I happened to go home for a band booster meeting, and lo and behold, there was Greg. Greg, who christened me "The Big One". Greg, who was instigator and/or participant in most of the pranks for which a certain group of us became mildly legendary in the history of our band... Greg, who along with the other three band guys who graduated with him, wept bitter tears as he hugged me the night that they graduated (they were in Hopkins' class)...
Greg is in band boosters. He is a band parent.
I walked up just before the meeting started, folded my arms across my chest, and glared down at him until he looked up- and then did that startled chair-hop for which he's been famous since we were kids.
I'd posted something on Facebook last week about flaming Oreos, because of a specific incident that took place on a trip to Kings' Island outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. One of the women who is now a booster swiped an Oreo out of our room, coated it with hairspray, set it on fire, and then dropped it in the toilet to see how long it took for the flames to go out as it spiraled down.
Greg was walking by me as I told Oreo Girl's son this story, and I caught him by the sleeve. "Not so fast. That's the trip where you and the other boys rappelled down the side of the hotel on a rope of sheets. It was the director's new wife's first trip with us. She nearly had a nervous breakdown, remember? And what about Governor Collins' inauguration? The matched boxer shorts? My best friend still talks about the ones Russ had." (They had little hearts all over them and were printed with a dirty slogan.)
"Or the night that y'all were in our bathtub. It wouldn't drain and your socks were purple because I dyed my hair earlier and the director made me wash it out. I still remember the look on your face when he ripped the shower curtain back and demanded to know what you were doing there. Remember what you said?" I looked at Oreo Girl's son and mimed soaping up: " 'Taking a shower!' "
He slapped me on the back and laughed. Oreo Girl rolled her eyes at her son and told him, "Don't get any ideas!"
I failed to mention that her mother was the velvet hammer of chaperons on these trips- all we had to hear was the familiar tone of her voice echoing through the door of her hotel room as we fruitlessly attempted to sneak past: "Girrr-ls!" It was always followed by the thunder of little feet as we raced to get back to our own room before we were caught. Most of the time we made it.
One of my all-time favorites involved the sweetest girl in the whole band, who is a faculty wife at a prominent SEC school these days. She was the nicest, kindest person you'd ever want to meet, and the fact that she got in on this was pretty exceptional: she had straight waist-length hair, and we decided that we would pool our makeup and fix her up to look like Boy George in the heyday of Culture Club while we were on an overnight trip. Naturally, the band director saw the lights on in our room and...
"You girls, OPEN THAT DOOR! It is after lights out! OPEN THIS DOOR NOW!"
We sent "Boy Georgette" to open the door.
Now, our band director thought that she was a cross between Gidget and The Virgin Mary. The look of utter horror on his face when she let him in was enough to tell us that we had crossed the line. "MY GOD, what have they DONE to you?" is what he actually said.
What we'd done was pile makeup on her otherwise cosmetics-free face and braid toilet paper into her hair- it wasn't as if we'd been taking drugs or anything (FYI, we were not allowed to curse, color our hair, paint our nails, or chew gum while representing the band, let alone do anything more illicit than throw Gummi Bears at each other on the bus). The effect was enough to put him into DTs. He backed out of our hotel room proclaiming, "You WILL get that off of her and you WILL go to sleep! RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE," closing with the ever-ominous, "Don't make me come back here tonight!"
Those were the days. Seriously, the best time of my life, because I had friends, we did stupid stuff, and it got me away from the misery of my everyday existence. Seeing Greg again makes me long for my lack of cynicism and it also let me know that there's still something left of that teenage girl who could muster up a smile, be in on the joke, and be a part of something. She and I have been too long estranged; it's time I invited her to come out and breathe again.