So, this one time, in marching band …
We got to play at halftime of a Colorado State football game in Ft. Collins. It was Band Day, and they played the University of New Mexico. I played baritone sax. I was first chair, I might add. The cheerleaders came with us.
Stick with me … this will tie together eventually.
Her name was Kaylie. (It was actually Shawna, but I don’t want to use her real name.) She was dreamy. Silky, curly brown hair, hazel eyes, braces. Sigh. The universe had a little fun that day and put Shawna – I mean, Kaylie – next to me on the bus.
This day, all the jokes landed.
I charmed. I entertained. Kaylie laughed. The kind where a girl tosses her head back and hits me on the arm. I’m not sure how, but her hand – that soft, pretty, cheerleader hand – well, it wound up in mine on that ride. Me. The baritone sax player. (First chair.)
One for all the sax players
Her head – did I mention her hair? – rested on my shoulder.
It was a moment that all saxophone players could appreciate. Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Zoot, from the Muppets – they raised their horns toward the west that day. We got off the bus – hand in hand – and I swear, music played, and not the band kind, either.
We had time before warming up, so Shawna – Kylie – and I, took a lap at venerable Hughes Stadium. I’m not sure my feet touched the ground, though. It was really a dream, until … I stopped, at a spot in the tunnel where no one else was, where we were alone.
I gently turned her hand in mine, somehow moving her toward me, smoother than anything I’d ever done, and I could see in her eyes she really, really, dug it, it was smoother than Kirk Cameron and Matthew Broderick combined if you must know …
And right at that moment, Kirk or Matthew or Hell, even Patrick Dempsey (when he was a dork, in Can’t Buy Me Love) would have kissed this goddess right then and there and meant it.
Not me, though. See, I froze. Totally. The saxophones from heaven turned into the wah-wah trombone, and the loser music from Price is Right. I didn’t realize in that moment that my choke on the kiss would cost me dearly. Like, the Chicago Cubs in the 2003 NLCS.
We played that day, and I, unassumingly, played my heart out.
I took my spot next to mi amor on the ride back and took her hand in mine. It felt … it felt like a tortilla, and not in a good way. She didn’t hold back. And yet, I held on for most of the ride until we got home to Greeley, in the dead of night.
She left the bus and didn’t turn around. Ever.
We never talked about it. Years ago, I found a photo of her taken that day, kicking her leg up on my lap with an open-mouth goofy smile, the kind that a girl comfortable in her own skin would make without a pause.
For a moment, she was really, really happy. But it was like it never really happened.
So, yeah, girls, I was in the marching band …
1. Were you in the marching band?
It wasn’t all lost love, though.
I loved being in marching band. At Greeley West, the band was better than the football team. We practiced – oh, what the hell? We trained – in the neighborhoods around the school, and people stepped out of their houses to watch us.
Friday Night Lights, my ass.
We were so precise. The stripes on the side of our pants snapped in unison, even as we took the spoke maneuver into and out of corners. We couldn’t be stopped. We dominated also on the field, taking formation as we belted out Toccata in Fugue in D Minor.
Are you kidding me? Most bands couldn’t play that shit sitting on their arses. Damn.
We played in Estes Park for Christmas, instruments freezing between songs. We played in the heat of July 4 in Greeley, and at Mile High Stadium, the place John Elway and Haven Moses made magic, and also Harry Sydney, if you count the USFL Denver Gold.
So yeah, I played in marching band. Damn right I did. And songs and competitions – and girls – well, they come and go, when you’re in the business. Music is bigger than all of it.
2. If strawberries are supposed to be good for you, why do they have sugar in them?
Nature’s fickle as a pretty brace-faced cheerleader sometimes, my loves.
You’d assume a bowl of strawberries to be a healthier option a shrimp and mushroom quesadilla. Not so fast. Strawberries are high in fiber (important for guys older than me), but they also have a lot of sugar. Different from Oreo sugar, but still, sugar.
See, fruit has fructose, which sometimes can be more dastardly than glucose, which is the sugar in Oreos and Butterfingers. The American Heart Association recommends I have no more than 36 grams of sugar daily. It seems only fair to split that evenly between strawberries and ginger snaps.
3. How much does it cost to see an Olympic soccer game?
More than an extra-large pizza with the works, but less than your team fees.
Tickets ranged from $20 to $1,400 for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Most came in just less than $21. That’s affordable, even by my book. Even though the Pontiac couldn’t make the trip to Rio, and I’m not sure what the Airbnb situation is down there.
Time out for a second. You have to see this video. I found it doing research for this.
Christine Brackel, a writer for the Quicken Loans site, went to the games and priced stuff out. She said a ticket to the Gold Medal game ranged from $37-$155. Going by my rule of not paying more than my age for a ticket … I’d say we could have gotten in, girls.
4. What are the cats with all the colors?
The coolest cats (besides me in marching band) are strays with a mixture of everything. A gray foot and three white ones, a tan patch on the eye, a black-and-white pattern on the side that looks like Robert Di Nero (In Bang the Drum Slowly, not Dirty Grandpa.)
You got your basic bicolor, which is usually something and white. Like, 50/50. Inside that, you have your mitts (cats with white paws – aw), bibs (like our Bibster, appropriately), and locket (small patch of white hair on the chest.)
It gets cat-astrophically complex after that (and I can just see Pat’s comments now.)
We’re talking Harlequins, with splotchy colors, but mostly white.
There’s the standard dilutes, a color and a faded version of that color. Think Garfield. A van is white with small spots of color between the ears and on the tail. Like paint splatted on it.
Smokes are black or gray, with white roots, so, the opposite of my head.
Ticked tabbies aren’t the ones who get left outside with no milk bowl. They have strands of hair light at the root, darker toward the end. A ticked tabby will probably become the other ticked if you spend too much time to inspect her fur this way.
Tabbies ought to have a post of their own. Tiger tabbies are self-explanatory. Classic tabs have bull’s-eye swirls on their sides that should never be treated as bull’s-eyes, not even with rubber bands or bits of pretzel.
Cats with spots on their sides and bellies are spotted tabbies, naturally.
Like a white-mitt, tiger tabby with tabico tendencies, one would imagine.
Tri colors are calicos, talicos, tortoiseshells, and torbies. Calicos are black, orange, and white, although you could have a dilute calico (follow me?) When a calico and a tabby are in love, well, their babies are talicos, with orange tabby spots and lots of white.
Torties aren’t really tri-colors, because they’re just black and orange. Did you know most Torties – and calicos – are female? I wonder if they’re indecisive about tom cats who don’t kiss them right away. That’s neither here nor there …
A tabby and tortie would make a torbie, and at this point, I’m lost as hell. There’s something called points, but I’m not going to get into that. I have enough points as it is.
5. What would a star look like when it explodes?
Like a white-mitt, tiger tabby with tabico tendencies, one would imagine.
Luckily, there’s a video of what Betelgeuse’s explosion would look like from earth.
Betelgeuse, also known as Alpha Orionis, isn’t the brightest star in the constellation Orion anymore. It’s a dying red star that will someday implode upon itself, like many of us are destined.
Only most of us aren’t destined to become supernovas in the aftermath and create a spectacular celestial show.
It’s a big old aging star, like me, but 10,000 times brighter than the sun, 4,000 degrees cooler than the sun, but also 2 million times the sun’s volume. So it’s a significant chunk of star power, like Shaquille O’Neal in his prime.
And, like me, who knows? Maybe his best show is yet to come.