Posted by Jenn Thorson at 7:49 AM Labels: band candy, band fundraisers, band humor, bandie, marching band
We were like the Home Shopping Network, but better-- because with us, not only did you get the quality personalized pimple-faced service you come to expect from a neighbor kid with marginal social skills. But we could also honk out our own musical soundtrack accompaniment.
Yes, as a member of the Edgar Allen Poe High School marching band (name changed to protect the potentially-embarrassed), we canvassed our town with all the fund-raising merchandise that any neighbor could possibly ever want to reluctantly buy.
Sure, there was the mouth-watering candy bars that made us famous. (And which, due to my illicit in-school supplying in the girls' gym locker room prevented one of our most dreaded bully diva's from lavishing me with regular pre-lunch knuckle sandwiches. It was good to have a Get Out of Bruises Free card.)
But while the candy bars remained our Signature Special, we eventually branched out to a wider variety of goods in an attempt to give our clientele the items the market truly wouldn't completely hate pity-purchasing.
Why, there was the jewelry sale-- where we offered real genuine 100% glass diamonette earrings, bracelets and encrusted keychains, suitable for any occasion. If, y'know, that occasion required something elegant that probably wouldn't fall apart much into your French onion soup.
We sold delectible cheeses, sausages and other savory items, destined to make your next party a memorable evening of processed cold-pack, peel-slice-and-serve fun.
We sold good old-fashioned Jersey-style hoagies-- cold meat sandwiches made with our own hands (and probably Aquanet, Love's Baby Soft, and that bit o' goo from the brass sections spit traps, just for seasoning). And we sold a lot of them. Which either goes to show the deep kindness of strangers or the fact that no one really spent a lot of time observing band members and their habits.
Lastly, we raised money by putting on a combination Play-Fashion Show. The sort of event that simply had it all! Flashing lights, hot trends, music, and people who never would have made the cut for any actual school dramatics parading around in borrowed duds trying to look like members of The Brat Pack, all with a loosely-tied story theme.
Grease was one such theme. Alice in Wonderland was the other. So while I was, yes, tall and thin at the time, it was universally agreed that it would be better for all concerned if I did not model. Or act. Or appear anywhere in public so people could actually see me...
Quiet, lanky girls with scoliosis and self-esteem issues were better left to paint props and clap in the right places as plants in the audience. It was how the Social Spectrum of Cool to Non-Cool worked, and was an unspoken, highly-revered tradition not to be mucked about with.
It spans generations.
So, each year, my neighbors knew they could count on (read: contemplated not answering the door because it was that Thorson girl again, with some catalog in her hand) the unique ability to purchase a variety of items suitable for any household....
To gain an eye-opening look into the world of high fashion, fine design and hand-crafted cuisine the Board of Health just hadn't thought to look into yet.
I see band members giving it their all at the Macy's Day parade and I nod, knowing what they went through to get there.
Not simply hours of rehearsal in blistering heat and finger-stinging cold...
Not just kneeling in mud and marching through goose poop on the practice field...
Not plodding forwarded doggedly, against the squeaks and honks and the "Are you ever going to get that right?-- you're driving your father and I up a wall!"
But the subtle nuances of regional, neighborly blackmail. The salesmanship. All to afford to go somewhere far, far alway from the good people that you made crazy playing measure number 32
in determined, Groundhog Day-like repetition.