Monday, November 16, 2015

Watch Me Twirl, Watch Me Nae Nae

Due to popular demand (or lack of opposition), I feel compelled to share the story of The Great Color Guard Rifle Twirling Fiasco mentioned in my last post, as straight forwardly as I can.

Back in the day, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and pterodactyls routinely picked off small children as afternoon snacks, being in the high school band was cool. At least that's what we told ourselves. We even had our own special “Bandcoming Week” with cool dress-up days like “Hat & Spats” Day, and “Shades & Bandanas” Day to celebrate our nerdiness... I mean coolness.

In addition to being cool, participation in marching band was on equal footing with football and cheerleading, meaning that participating in football or cheerleading did not get you out of marching with the band at halftime. (At least that's how I remember it, and this is my story, so....) Cheerleaders who were also flag girls or baton twirlers mastered the fine art of changing out of one short skirt into another in our cars. (We always kept our lollies – or privacy shorts – on, so get your minds out of the gutter.) Believe me that feat of contortion was much easier as a limber high schooler. (It was after a sweaty 5K, back out of the gutter.)

One more little detail which is vitally important to the story: Our band was blessed with a plethora of flutes and clarinets.

Another important detail: Our band director, affectionately referred to as Wim Jeaver, sweat more than any other human being I have ever encountered. In the heat of the directing moment I'm pretty sure he could sling sweat clear to the back row of the brass section. Flutes in the front row didn't stand a chance. Clarinets in the second row didn't fare much better.

So, partly because there were so many of us, and partly because we would do anything to get out of the sweat storm, most of the flutists and clarinetists became flag girls. I'm sure the term “flag girl” offends someone out there, but you're just going to have to get over it. This was back before we even thought about being politically correct. We were girls, we twirled flags, end of story.

In fact, as I recall we had almost as many flag girls (and two baton twirlers) as we did band members. This is (of course) yet another important detail.

When I was a junior, a new girl transferred to our school and our band. She had been a member of the color guard rifle twirlers at her old school, and, upon finding color guard rifles stowed behind the flags stacked somewhat haphazardly in our band room closet, she suggested incorporating those into our halftime show.

Back then, we didn't go to marching band competitions. I'm not even sure there was such a thing. My point is, we performed an entirely new show for each home football game. Things were simpler then. We only played other teams in our conference, all the conference teams were within a 45 minute drive, and we played home games every other week.

Again, that's how I remember it. I can't really say for sure because after running through the flag routine with us once, Wim pretty much left us alone to practice. Which we did. Vigilantly. Never goofing around or wasting time. High school girls are responsible like that. 
WLHS Flag Girls, Baton Twirler and Majorette circa 1983.

The only problem with adding a color guard rifle twirling unit was that there were only two color guard rifles in anything near twirling condition.

The solution: Our color guard rifle twirling unit would consist of only two members. Two girls would never be missed from the flag fleet.

Somehow I managed to convince Wim to let me join the new girl in the color guard duo. I'm not sure how this happened, but I imagine his final decision was announced with a heavy sigh, an exaggerated rolling of the eyes, and inspirational words along the lines of “Go ahead. Just don't screw it up.”

Now that you've read this far, I should probably warn you that I may be the only one who finds this story funny. It's really more of a visual story. The Princess always laughs when I tell it, but I'm not sure if that's because of the story itself, or because of the massive amount of pantomime twirling that accompanies it. Anyway, you're going to have to imagine a lot of hand gestures and spinning and twirling and tossing. If you've ever seen the precision movements of a real color guard, imagine the exact opposite.

I would also like to say that, unfortunately, I honestly don't remember the name of the other girl. She was a sweet thing, and this story should in no way reflect upon her as a person. In fact, I have never told this story to the general public before because I don't want to accidentally offend or embarrass her. For God's sake, if you think this story is about you, don't tell anyone. And don't slash my tires.

After much serious practice – remember, we were responsible high school girls – the night of the big performance finally arrived. The marching band took the field for the half-time show. The color guard duo took our places in front of the band. The eyes of the entire home crowd were upon us. You could sense the anticipation. You could cut the tension with a knife. The band started to play. We twirled our rifles once, twice and...

My twirling partner dropped her rifle.

OK. No big deal, right? Except that she didn't pick it up.

I gave her a look that said “What the heck?” I kept twirling. She didn't pick it up.

I gave her another look that said “No, seriously. What the heck?” I kept twirling. She didn't pick it up. But she did keep pantomiming twirls.

Wim gave her a look. I kept twirling. She didn't pick it up. She did keep pantomiming.

Wim rolled his eyes, shook his head and focused all his attention on the band, ignoring us.

I kept twirling. Except by now I was thoroughly lost and had no idea what came next in our routine.

I realized it didn't really matter, because I was the only one actually twirling a rifle.

I could do whatever the heck I wanted.

I did whatever the heck I wanted.

My poor partner stood there nearly in tears pantomiming what may or may not have been the rest of our routine as I twirled and whirled and flailed and danced about like some sort of deranged lunatic until the song finally, mercifully ended.

Tah Dah! I nailed the ending with great flourish.

Our brief but illustrious incarnation as the WLHS color guard ended with something less of a flourish.

At the next home game I was busted down to pretend trombone player, sans mouthpiece. I think Wim's instructions were something along the lines of “Stand between these two people. Do what they do. Go where they go. Don't play. Don't screw it up.”

I'm sure this was accompanied by a heavy sigh and an exaggerated rolling of the eyes.

There's a lesson to be learned here.

Keep on twirling.

Twirl like no one's watching.

Twirl and the world twirls with you, drop your rifle and you stand alone.

Never trust a flag girl with a gun.

When you have a blog, you can twirl the story any way you want.

Tah Dah!

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