Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Check Your Right Guard



I have seen it in person. The NAMES Project honored my request and shipped it, at the last minute, to Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, for a commemorative event. It was the last block unfurled during the ceremony- it took a few minutes for me to make my way across the room, and when I got there...

I disintegrated.

Though I have beaten it to death, I have always felt that Roseanne Barr nailed it when she said that if it weren't for gay men, fat girls would never go anywhere. Stacy made sure I went somewhere...band camp. Marching contests. The movies. Dances. Drum corps competitions. Cruising the square. Our backyard, his parents' basement, the local park. To town. To Campbellsville. With Steve; with Sherra; with Will; with Sarah...or not...in the yellow car. In the brown car. Somewhere, anywhere, when we were bored or at loose ends, or run to death with 'band this' and 'band that'.

The usual greeting was running forward, arms flung wide, squealing at the top of his lungs- which scared the unholy crackers out of my senior-year boyfriend, Joe, who was a stick-straight Church of Christ football-playing farmbo who'd never seen anything like that in his life. Therein lay the absolute proof that Joe wasn't going to last, while Stacy endureth forevermore, amen...if in spirit alone.

For those of our friends who read this, two words: Ray Charles. If you were at the prom in 1985, then you remember "Seven Spanish Angels". Ray Charles was never whiter (or gayer) than when portrayed by my redheaded, very caucasian friend.

Oh, how I miss him.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

She Wore a Red Ribbon

It's that time of year again, but for me, it's truly always 'that time of year'. December 1st comes around and everyone drags out and dons their little snippets of red ribbon. Mine never leaves, because it's permanently etched on my heart.

Over the years, as I've volunteered with AIDS charities and my circle of HIV+ friends has grown, the number of people I've known who've succumbed, including a young girl in the first flush of life, has grown in proportion. In my office, there's a service award from the camp with which I volunteer for children affected by HIV/AIDS, engraved with the name of a former camp colleague who is no longer with us. Blue nitrile gloves and bleach are my constant companions as I deal with the laundry of seventy children who are heatsick or having accidents because the heat means we have to continually push them to stay hydrated.  It's not a complaint. It's a statement of what I do; I volunteer to do it. It's my choice. I wouldn't have it any other way.

The most obvious thing, though, is that he's still with me, too. The flashing smile, the spray of freckles that always grew more prominent under the harsh sun of band camp, the feline grace with which he handled a guard rifle...and the quiet, angry dignity when our band director stripped him of his position as drum major, largely because he was unapoligetically gay in an era when we were all good little Reaganite Republicans and pretending that we lived in a halcyon revisitation of the Eisenhower Years. The official reasons were that a) we needed him for the mellophone solo, b) he couldn't exert authority over the straight boys, and c) we could really use him back in the guard line. He was the best mellophonist we had at the time and he was a thing of great beauty with a rifle, but that doesn't excuse the blatant demotion in favor of someone who was a nice girl but a marginal drum major. It was a crushing blow, and it was also the moment I realized that our band director was a homophobe.

He finally got pissed off and took out one of the valves on his mellophone, trying to make a distinctive imprint on that solo. For weeks, he fiddled with the thing until he could reproduce the screeching, scorching characteristic wail of the bugles we heard in DCI competitions. The first time he dropped that hat trick into a rehearsal, our director's head nearly exploded...play it _straight_, came the order from on high (atop a bus, overlooking the parking lot where we practiced). I got in trouble for emitting a barking laugh from my spot in the drumline during that tirade. Yes, I'd breached discipline, but the irony of the etymology momentarily blew my mind. To my thinking, well, if you're busted down the ranks for being gay, then you should be able to play as flamboyantly as you want.

There was a young man in the neighboring high school's guard last year who literally took my breath away with his performance. It was like watching a ghost. After seeing him at their home contest, I caught our former band director by the sleeve. "He was so..." my voice trailed off, and he replied, "Yes, he was." It was a conversation of very few words, fraught with remembrance and regret.

The funeral was a hellish experience for several reasons, not the least of which was his mother's dogged insistence that he died of cancer. Yes, he had Kaposi's sarcoma and had done for quite some time...however, the terminal event was complications of pneumocystic pneumonia. There were two moments when I nearly lost it- when our band director approached me in front of the casket, and when the man who preached the funeral lapsed into an indictment of homosexuality and announced that gay men went, unquestionably, to Hell. I snapped an arm off the chair in which I was sitting.

We cannot resurrect the dead, but we cannot remain silent and permit their memory to evaporate like a fine mist. Wear your red ribbons for a day, and I will wear mine constantly until I join my beloved merry prankster on the other side.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Blue and The Gray

The other night, as my parents were transfixed by "Wheel of Fortune", I remarked that one of the contestants had chosen his on-camera attire pretty wisely. He was wearing a pink dress shirt with a plain, pink silk tie. Pink actually looks great on camera, if it's not too bright and as long as it's flattering to the person who's wearing it. I also liked the tone-on-tone effect with the tie.

For our TV appearances in high school, the Academic Team was cautioned in advance to avoid loud colors, black, or stark white, as these would wash us out under the lights. Somewhat predictably, the boys both turned out in blue Oxford-cloth shirts. I, on the other hand, had a pink one. The other girl, who did not appear on camera, wore a cream-colored blouse with a brown marled sweater vest- I remember this somewhat because she recently left the judicial bench, where she naturally wore black with a white collar every day that she was in court.

The proscription of black sort of threw me, since as much of my wardrobe as I could possibly sneak past my mother at the time was, of course, black. The pink turned out to be a great choice, though, as the photo taken of the team that day (after we unexpectedly won, somewhat because I was a teenage operamane) is the best picture of me ever made. Professionally, these days, I'm also in possession of a set of academic regalia that makes me look like a giant crow accented with the blue and white of my alma mater and the bright, acid yellow of my degree, library science. Music's hood is pink...

Hopkins was, of course, one of the two boys present and sporting the ubiquitous blue Oxford on TV that day. That shade of blue was about as good as it ever got- much like a stove, the temperatures on which are basically 'hot' and 'off', his wardrobe consisted of two colors: blue and gray, punctuated by the infrequent white polo shirt here and there. When I say it was blue or gray, I mean it; there is a particular gray knitted necktie that has burned itself into memory. Even dress shirts of dark plaid were combinations of various dark colors, but usually there was some small bit of grey somewhere in the matrix. I often joke that if there was a mashed potato blight, my current boyfriend would starve to death; if the world ceased to produce gray clothing, Hopkins (at least when we were kids) would go naked.

Not, you see, that this was unflattering. Back in the day, he was a raven-wing brunette with dark eyes- gray was flattering...but it was also incessant. It was defining. It was...strangely appropriate. I think the difference between us was that black can be extremely angry, and I was frequently propelled forward by a controlled, concentrated anger. He might've been a little gray raincloud, but I was a pitch-black thunderhead. (In retrospect, maybe my mother's insistence on blue was as much about giving me an outward appearance of calm as it was about flattering the color of my eyes.)

If he gets called to interview at the college, I am willing to bet that the suit would likely be somewhere between the color of an elephant and soft pencil lead. I won't be there. I can't, and it's probably just as well- my color-changing eyes take on an eerie resemblance to a timberwolf's around that much gray.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Geek Love? Really?

I'll let you in on a little secret: the major difference between geek love, which has caught the interest of TLC enough to merit a television series, and 'normal' love, is probably the fact that geeks are, as a general rule, highly eclectic, parochial in their interests (Star Trek versus Star Wars, anyone?), painfully shy and prone to overthinking EVERYTHING. Then again, I guess I have no basis for comparison, being a geek.

Courtship is something that seems to come more readily to non-geeks, and what's been painful for me is that even within that milieu, my appearance still renders me a marginal candidate for attention. Imagine, if you will, still being rejected by the smart boys. Unless it's happened to you, you probably can't...and I have the distinction of having been rejected by the smartest of the smart (who in all fairness, also puts the fun in dysfunctional, but I digress).

As my colleague and fellow geek Bill just pointed out a few minutes ago, there's also the issue of geek interest alignment. While both parties may be Quantum Geekerati, if their particular foci don't align, forget it. I have been dumped over my lack of interest in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" as well as "Bulletproof Monk" and "Angel: The Series". Sadly, I'm a Paul Newman fan, just not that movie, and I've seen "Bulletproof Monk"; I OWN the whole run of "Angel" on DVD. At the end of the day, I was really more insulted that they wouldn't spit out the real incompatibilities, and instead, insulted my geek cred because it wasn't exactly like theirs. It burned me up.

[Incidentally, while reading the "Geek Love" story on a geek newsfeed, a popup caught my eye, and I exclaimed to Bill: "Holy crap, look at that Scarlet Witch cosplay costume! It's AWESOME!" Ummm. Yeah, way to _totally_ geek out there, girl.]

Probably what I'm dreading the most is that "Geek Love" is set specifically in the context of speed dating at SciFi conventions. Hello, stereotype much? I am slightly agoraphobic, so the con scene is scary and repellent to me. Speed dating? Are you nuts? All the rejection you can possibly stomach in thirty seconds per person...no thank you. Geek or not, my fragile little psyche can't take that kind of beating.

What this all boils down to is I don't really like the 'entertainment factor' in exploiting us. I keep remembering the line from The Elephant Man: "I am not an animal!" We're not here for anyone's amusement. Date us or don't date us, it matters not...most of the people who will find this show funny aren't our cup of tea, anyway.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Amok...amok...amok...

A friend of mine recently posted a picture to Facebook of a little boy, about five years old or so, peering up at her from under the dividing wall in a dressing room. According to her comment, the child's mother simply whined at him for five minutes to 'stop it' before she took him and left the dressing room. Meanwhile, my friend huddled there in the clothes she was trying on, waiting for the Junior Voyeur Society to move on to its next target.

My first thought was: "My mother would've busted my butt within two seconds of hauling me back up to my feet, and then taken me home immediately." My second thought was of my mom's first cousin, who once repeatedly kicked his mother in the shins in a local grocery while she whined at him, "Oh, stop it!". He didn't. My mother, who was about fourteen at the time, hauled him out of the floor and slapped him in the face. Guess who wasn't asked to babysit him again after that incident? Anyway, I pulled a stunt once whereupon I set up a howl in the local Houchens' grocery (I was three at the time) and sat down in the aisle. My babysitter, who was in there shopping, asked my mother if she wanted her to pick me up out of the floor...and Mom refused. She and Pauline both walked off and left me bawling in the floor until I realized that they weren't around. Stewart, the stock manager, took my hand and walked me to my mother.

I don't really remember it, but I can say with some certainty that my little butt got busted when I got home. I did not do it again, in any iteration or alternate version.

Naturally, these days, you can't just abandon a child in a public place- who knows what freakazoids are lurking around the corner- and you can't snatch your child up and bust their be-hind. I also don't advocate the overuse of corporal punishment, because I've both suffered and seen the consequences of what happens when it goes too far...but...whining at a child gives them the upper hand. It does NOT work. Take them out of the situation. Stop it as soon as you can. Correct their behavior according to your beliefs, but for the love of all that's holy, do not permit it to continue unabated.

Of course, I am childless, not entirely by choice but by dint of timing and biology. I do, however, work with children and unfortunately, I deal with arrogant, socially ignorant self-entitled older teens when they reach college. If you don't want people to hate your kids, folks, please, teach them respectful behavior when they're young, because they won't grow out of it if you allow them to be horrible and rude children.

Friday, November 18, 2011

If It's Monday, We Must Be in Cleveland

When I was in high school, my life was scheduled. There was a reason for this: I didn't want to be home if I could possibly avoid it, and I had excellent reasons. My typical after school schedule looked like this:
Monday: Ballet 3:00, Academic Team departs 4:15, returns 9:15ish
Tuesday: Band, 2:45-5:45 (I quit Girl Scouts for Band)
Wednesday: Academic Team practice, 2:30-4:30 (I quit voice lessons for AT)
Thursday:Band, 2:45-5:45
Friday: Band/Football game, 5:30-8:30; dance, 9:00-12:00
Saturday: Band contest, all day (fall semester)
Sunday: Church, 10:00-12:00, Church Youth 4:00-7:00 (sometimes), and Christmas Vesper rehearsals, Sept-Dec., 4:00-6:00

I also lived for various school trips...I was in Beta Club, and the annual convention was in December. I was also in Co-Ed Y, so I participated in both Model UN and Model Assembly; that was a trip per semester. The History Club traveled, rather frequently, and because I was the sponsor's pet student I often go to go on field trips with the senior political science class- although I was only a sophomore or junior.

Yesterday, I was thinking about a particular trip to the state capitol to meet a man who just unsuccessfully ran for governor. It was at the beginning of his career; back then, he had a different wife, children, and party affiliation...and trust me, things haven't improved with the advent of a new (much younger) wife, the absence of his children, and his hitching his wagon to the Right...but I still think about this trip every time I'm in the capital city, largely because of the Blondes in the Red Ferrari.

There's a long hill leading into downtown Frankfort, and as we bumped along in the school bus en route to the capitol building, two blondes in a red Ferrari convertible zipped up alongside us. The bus listed a bit as every boy on the trip crowded the left side, trying to ogle the blondes, while all of the girls instantly assumed a frosty demeanor. When the boys didn't immediately cease the drooling and staring, I announced, loudly, at Hopkins: "If you don't sit down RIGHT NOW, I will incinerate your physics homework when we get home."

"But, but, I was just looking at the CAR!"

I'm not normally missish, but this was pretty motivating. "Sure you were, looking at the CAR, that is." I sniffed dramatically, switched seats, and pointedly turned away from him. Bless his heart, Hopkins took a lot of crap from the other boys as he trailed me around the capitol in utter misery; I don't think I've ever admired the murals or the stone in that building more closely than I did that day. In retrospect, he was there for much the same reason as I: overscheduling keeps you out of the house, and we both knew where the respective bodies were buried. I should've been nicer to him- especially since it should've occurred to me that I was about to lose him forever...but we never realize those things until it's far too late.

And P.S., I still hate red Ferrari convertibles.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gadgety, Gadgety, Gadgety

Today, a friend stopped by to show off his new Kindle Fire.

I'm probably a moderate gadgetista...I waited a generation and a price drop to get the Kindle 2, although the Fire has a certain appeal. Yesterday, too, Daily Finance reported the impending obsolescence of music CDs by the close of 2012. It takes me back to my precious Sony Walkman cassette player, one of the few really cool things I owned growing up.

The Walkman came as quite a shock. Often as not, my parents would realize after the fact that our lack of certain things made us social pariahs, but my father's obsession with music and different kinds of music-related electronics led to the quick purchase of a Walkman (a real one, not a generic, or 'buddy' as we said back then) for each of us. Our legendary travel fights in the car were probably the source of this windfall, much as many parents give each child a portable DVD player now, with a set of headphones, to stave off those horrid little wars of attrition.


For several months, my Walkman was the talk of the school. I was pretty guardy about it because I didn't get a lot of "stuff". If I let you borrow it, well, you were certainly among my closest and most trusted friends. Dr. X once got to take it on a school trip in which I was not involved, and expressed his gratitude by returning it with new Duracell batteries- now that's a gentleman, when you're a fifteen year-old geekette.

There's a sweet little courtship ritual that's evolved parallel to technology of sharing your music with someone- not e-mailing them a YouTube link or a URL to a band website, but actually, physically sharing the device's headphones so you can listen to the music together. That was kind of hard with the old Walkman, because you had to hold the headphones inverted between you, each with an ear pressed to them. The same ritual persisted with portable CD players, although nowadays, earbuds typically have enough slack for each half of the couple to share a bit more easily. It's kind of intimate, sitting there with your heads together...I'm a little old for that these days, but I remember sitting huddled in the bus seat next to Hopkins on various school trips, listening to the Walkman. Don't get me wrong; couples have listened to music in many mediums across centuries. It's just that the advent of portable devices meant you could do it anywhere, closing yourself off from everyone and everything around you by creating a temporary oasis inhabited by two people.

I guess I'm not so much married to the technology; in my line of work, we adapt to the whatever delivery method comes over the horizon, proforma. Music is a highly personal thing; we can point to examples and use them to express things that we may be too emotionally stifled to do otherwise. In a way, I suppose what I really miss is the intimacy...






Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Gentleman Always Leads

I don't take direction well, and if you ask my high school band director, I have a problem with authority- especially male authority. It's not entirely true, but I've been known to get up on my hind legs and say what I thought from time to time.

None too surprisingly, in the past this has led to more than one breakup. There are quite a few men, it seems, who have this idea that they have to dominate, govern, or dictate terms in a relationship. It's give-and-take, people...not a hostage negotiation. Why is that so hard to understand?

It took ballroom dance lessons to shed light on another unpleasant little truth, and it was a weird epiphany. I was a classically-trained ballet dancer, but the schools were always small and I wasn't physically cut out to pursue it beyond childhood lessons; I never had to dance pas de deux, partnered with a boy. Even then, the man doesn't really 'lead' in the traditional sense. The popularity of Dancing With The Stars has probably educated the general public a great deal about this concept, but DWTS hadn't yet premiered when I began taking ballroom lessons.

I kept stepping on my partners' feet, or bumping into them. It was embarrassing for someone who prided herself on her ability as a dancer...and then my teacher took me aside. "This is a trust issue for you, isn't it? You don't trust men. You have to let the gentleman lead. In this dance form, the gentleman always leads." I drove home from the studio that night pondering the implications. How many times in my life had I ever permitted it? How many times had I ever let the gentleman lead?

I quit taking lessons. I never could get the hang of it, because I simply could not trust any of the men with whom the teacher tried to pair me enough to avert total disaster on the floor. In the end, it proved how much I'd shut down my ability to connect with anyone. I have four pairs of ballroom shoes stashed at home on the off chance that I might actually take it up again someday- but they're really just gathering dust while I try to sort myself out.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Honor

What is left when honor is lost? ~Publilius Syrus

Ah, honor, that trait that Southerners embrace with hidebound intensity; that to which we cling, even when it hurts far more than it helps.

Don't get me wrong, my integrity is of soul-searing importance to me. I don't and won't follow my heart into matters that would be devastating to my honor. Once upon a time, I had someone else's sense of chivalry cut me clean through...a wound with a sharp knife bleeds less, in the estimation of some, I suppose. It still hurts like the very devil.

Today I was cautioned not to put myself at risk to advance their interests- still shielding me from myself after this long, I see... my mind was screaming, "Will you never trust me? I do know what I'm doing...and lucky for me I have you to tie my shoes," but what I wrote was, "There is no risk involved. I have done all that I can do; it's all you from here on out."

It's a timeless struggle...but because I was left to my own devices at seventeen, I had to become the Self-Rescuing Princess. I learned how to save myself, because there wasn't anybody else who needed my help. Or that's how it seemed for a long time, even though it (technically) isn't true- I'm not in the rescuing business much anymore, although I am in the holding-out-the-life-preserver business. I'm a professional educator...it's kind of what we do, you know.

Sometimes you sit dormant for a long time, waiting for the moment when you might be of some assistance. It's paltry enough in this case, but it's within my scope to do it. I have pulled greater flanking moves than this, when I had far more to lose- and that's in context of the current situation- and I would do it again. I think the tactical error is the belief that I wouldn't do for all what I've done for one.

So, my White Knight, keep your armor in check this time. It's under control. You'll just have to trust me, because I have, and have always had, your best interests at heart.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans' Day, Daddy

Today is Veterans' Day. In the past, I've devoted posts largely to my mother's older brother and her nephew, Marines who served in two different, but extremely bloody, theaters of war in Asia. My uncle was at Guadalcanal; his son was enlisted for two tours in Vietnam, and served well past the first Gulf War after becoming a much-decorated pilot of the EA-6B Prowler. One of my proudest moments in high school was when "Gee" personally bombed Libya. It was kind of a big deal.

My father, though, is somewhat unique in that he was in both the Navy and the Army. How that happened is this: Dad grew up poor. Although he was an excellent baseball player (and was scouted by the Cubs while he was at the University of Louisville), athletic scholarships did not exist in 1949. The ROTC was his best bet, and being a Navy brat, he decided to go NROTC at UofL. In case anyone's wondering, that gold ring with the dark blue stone that he wears on his right hand is his NROTC ring...it was the worst day of his life for any number of reasons when he washed out due to elevated blood pressure. Sometimes I think that may have something to do with why he chose to devote his medical career to treating hypertensives, but that's another story.

Dad had a few adventures in the Navy. He was trained as a Gunner's Mate on the USS Missouri (yes, the Mo). He also served a summer tour on the USS New Jersey. Then there's his ill-fated trip to Guantanamo Bay on a seaplane, during which they nearly crashed into the bay itself. As they dove at high speed toward the water, my father made a deal with God that if He let him live through it, he'd never get on a plane again in his life. From that day to this, my father has never set foot in an airplane. Dad has a thing about keeping his word.

When he washed out, he went to work in a slaughtering plant to make the money to at least finish college. He returned to the University of Kentucky instead, because it cost a lot less, and upon graduating with his biology degree, was promptly drafted in to the Army...

From Dad's tour of duty in Europe we have his snapshots of the castles on which Castle Frankenstein and Castle Dracula were based (he is a fan of the original 1930s horror movies). He went to the opera- he actually sang in the light opera company at UofL when he was a student- and he went to the ballet. He also said he never had a desire to ever tent camp again after a few frozen bivouacs spent in icy mud and sleet storms in rural Germany. He drank beer at the Hofbrauhaus, learned to like dark chocolate, and decided that he really liked schnitzel (which I learned to cook, taught by the Austrian war bride of one of his friends). More importantly, he was a medic with the Army ambulance trains coming into Landstuhl, Germany. There's still a big U.S. Army medical center there...my cousin Kevin was treated and processed through Landstuhl after a near-fatal car crash while he was in the Navy.

The big thing, though, is that Dad had the GI Bill when he got out, and eventually, after getting a masters' in zoology, the itch to be a doctor that started in Landstuhl finally caught up with him a few years later.

Dad was in the Army of Occupation. He didn't do anything glamorous. He didn't see combat. I still think he learned some useful things that he applied in greater service to the common good after he mustered out. After all is said and done, though, he learned to live in freezing mud. He learned to sew on a button. He learned to suck it up and deal with massive traumatic injuries. He learned how to shoot the fleas off of a dog at two hundred yards in high winds at twilight (yes, he qualified as a sniper). In short, he grew up.

Happy Veterans' Day to one and all who have served, and thank you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cake, or Death: Because You Can't Have It and Eat It, Too.

Last spring, when my mother became dangerously ill again, Hopkins did something that triggered my notoriously hideous (yet well-controlled most of the time) temper : he fired off a snitty little e-mail about the IT job listings I was sending him from my employer, the statewide community college system. The thing read like Dr. Seuss: am not, will not, could not, should not...in a boat, with a coat, et cetera, ad nauseum. I went from zero to blind rage in less than a nanosecond.

The e-mail came at exactly THE worst possible moment, and I fired back an equally, if not hotter, e-mail stating that my mother was on the brink of death and I was sorry if he didn't understand that I was attempting to help him. If I hadn't been so profoundly enraged, I might've returned it in full-Seussian verse, but I was simply too furious. At that point, the Interwebs went dead silent and I washed my hands of the whole bloody mess.

So here we are, some seven months later, and things have changed. I'm not going to elaborate, but I posted a Facebook status that we had an IT opening and guess which one of my friends wasn't getting the ad...then I heard from his sister, asking that I reconsider, explaining why. With a sigh, I shot him a brief e-mail that opened with the statement that I was sending him the job announcement as a favor to his sister, then I braced for him to bite my head off again.

I was shocked out of my socks when he didn't. He e-mailed me immediately to say thanks, he'd uploaded a resume'.

Two days later, it dawned on me that you can't upload a resume' unless you have an existing application file. The application is monstrously long and I heard from him within TEN MINUTES of sending him the link.

To wit: in April, he handed me my head on a plate, when he'd already applied for jobs with the system.

Score: Hopkins, 1; AiredaleGirl, 0- I know when I've been played and there are damn few as can do it. Don't get me wrong. I'm still all for dragging him, kicking and screaming, toward what I know to be some modicum of his potential, but I'd like to cheerfully strangle him, too.  One of these days, I'm going to learn...one of these days.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Stupid Girl Tricks

There's a meme going around of an Isaac Asimov quotation: “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” Well, you don't say, Dr. A... and it casts me back to a point in my life when I did something that I've thankfully outgrown: engaged in something I didn't really care about in order to impress someone else.

Science fiction and horror are not my 'thing', as far as reading tastes go. I loved the original Frank Herbert Dune series because it was a synthetic history, much along the lines of of Tolkien, although neither as thorough nor as deep. However, being a teenage girl and already pigeonholed by my peers as a nerd, it didn't do me any particular social harm to pick up reading Asimov as well- especially because a handful of my male friends were big fans, specifically Hopkins and a guy I'll call Dr. X, who is now a research chemist (for X, I also read Stephen King's 1980s horror novels, and stopped in college with It). My rationale was that it gave us something in common to talk about.

I liked Asimov's Robots and Foundation well enough, I suppose, but I'm sufficiently weird that I really preferred his non-fiction. I could debate the nuances of Foundation through the entire series. I could hold my own about the Laws of Robotics. I was also the only girl in any circle of my acquaintance, up through and including college, who a) knew or b) cared about any of that. I was not, however, the first girl in the history of the female sex to take up a hobby because it might catch the attention of a specific boy...I just did it as nerdily as possible. It also never crossed my mind that my being better versed (and therefore able to bludgeon all-comers in debate) on both Tolkien and Lewis than the boys might alienate the ones I was trying to attract. Oops. They want you to be smart, but not smarter than them...

What finally cured me of it, for good and all, was Bill. Bill was the last time I attempted to change myself for a boy- that involved going home between my sophomore and junior years of college and joining one of those medically-supervised fasting diets where you consume 600 calories a day. Yeah, I lost 80lbs.; yeah, boys followed me home from class to ask me out; yeah, I started blacking out in class and had to be picked up off the sidewalk by two pledges from Bill's fraternity and walked to the dorm in a stupor...and finally, my hair fall out by the handsful. When Bill found a yet-thinner girl, who was in a sorority and therefore more socially acceptable among his frat brothers (except the president, who he didn't realize was my cousin until it was too late), I came totally unstrung.

Yes, I dropped my basket. Was he worth it? No, save the fact that I came out on the other side rather more self-aware. Here's the thing: if the person you're seeing isn't seeing you for the right reasons (they love you just as you are, Bridget Jones), attempting to alter yourself to cling to them via superficial means is not going to help. At some point, there will be an epiphany on one part or the other, and *poof*...the illusion evaporates. I don't regret what I learned from both the painful (starving myself only to be rejected anyway) and the silly (reading things that slightly bored me), I just don't waste my time on it anymore. I have my own life. I have my own career. If people don't like me, eh, so what. I have better things to do than worry about their opinions...


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Tackiest Fieldshow EVER

So, I'm kind of a fan of Tone Deaf Comics, which is somewhat aided by the fact the John "Bogey" Bogenschultz was apparently an assistant director at the much-reviled, much-giant-killing Adair County Band for a little while. If you're from Kentucky, you know about Adair, and if you're me, you've had the pleasure of being dumped by an egotistical trumpet soloist because he demanded that I quit my band...because it embarrassed him that I marched for a rival whom he deemed inferior (read: any other band in the state). He manages a Wal-Mart now- how classy is that???

Tone Deaf recently went on a riff about whether or not certain school names sound like planets or characters in the Star Wars universe. Two of the targets were Ooltewah (TN) and Kennesaw Mountain (GA), which prompted me to comment (and later delete said comment) about what could potentially constitute the Trashiest Fieldshow Ever, one that would cause judges to fall out of the box foaming at the mouth in anger and confusion. If you're from the South and have ever been asked if you wear shoes on a regular basis, this is where the train wreck is headed, just in case you don't want to look...so here goes nothing good (remember, I'm FROM the South, and we're used to being ridiculed with these stereotypes- trust me, I could make it a LOT worse, too):
Repertoire:
  • Dueling Banjos
  • Medley: Tennessee Waltz/My Old Kentucky Home/Georgia On My Mind/Sweet Home Alabama
  • something random played on kazoos, mouth harps, washtub bass, and whiskey jug
  • Some kind of snappy hoedown music
  • Closer: Dukes of Hazzard theme
Props:
  • A working moonshine still
  • rusted-out car or truck on blocks
  • house trailer with polyester curtains and a redwood deck
  • several flea-bitten hounds
  • rocking chairs
Uniforms:
  • All march barefoot
  • Band in denim overalls with coonskin caps
  • Percussion (pit and battery)- overalls and dirty John Deere or Caterpillar caps
  • Guard- cutoff shorts with halter tops made from bandannas
Guard equipment:
  • Real, working rifles (loaded and fired while guard runs hollerin' around field at finale)
  • Frog gigs
  • Garden hoes
  • Beer bottles (for juggling)
  • Cane fishing poles, with fake catfish attached
The pit equipment can be hauled in with the typical ATVs, but everything will be mounted on old boat trailers or tobacco wagons. Instead of bringing guard equipment out from behind blinds or props, an equipment handler will fling stuff out the broken windows of the house trailer at the appropriate time. During the finale, guard members will fill the jugs used in the jug band number with moonshine from the working still...and this will be offered to the judging panel, guaranteeing that they will score the band high and be too drunk to care about anybody who follows them in the lineup.

EDIT: I totally forgot about this- I asked a former student for a tacky idea when she stopped by my office earlier, and she suggested that the show conclude with cow-tipping...

***DISCLAIMER: I'm just messing with you, people, I would never propose this as a real marching show. It's just that some of the over-conceptualized, serio-tragico-comedic stuff I've seen wade into competition lately is in dire need of spoofing. Peace be with you...   ~AiredaleGirl