Thursday, June 28, 2007

Trombone Trouble: Part 5 - Family Matters

As previously mentioned, a "band exchange program" was engineered between Kenmore West and some high school in Twekesbury, Mass.

Number one on the agenda was selling boxes of cookies to fund this expedition. I was assigned a crate of cardboard-flavored sandwich cookies to peddle.

This was "ye olde days" where the KIDS were supposed to do actual door-to-door selling. No sign-up sheets in Mommy's or Daddy's break-room at work. Pound the pavement, kiddo! Mach schnell or ve vill zend you to band camp to learn how to concentrate.

I pulled a few weekenders in this futile activity. I pushed these pathetic pastries on peers and professors alike. Relatives. Clergy. Strangers. Hey, somebody! Buy my cookies so I can go to that Heaven-on-Earth known as Tewkesbury! Please!
As Winter melted into whatever passes for Spring in Western New York, my Grandmother's health began to fail. She was ensconced in a hospital in Port Colburn, Ontario and we started taking trips there as often as possible.

We kids were kind of kept in the dark about the severity of Grandma's health issues, but when my Mother said, "She'll probably outlive us all" I had an inkling we were dealing with someone who wasn't going to get better.

The hospital put my Gran on a "death watch" the week before my band trip. We were all pretty stricken and it didn't seem like a good time for me to be out of town.

I went to my band teacher's office and told him the situation. Rather than hand in the parental permission slip, I gave him a note from my Mom explaining I wouldn't be going to Massachusetts with the rest of the band, owing to this grave family emergency.

"You still have to turn in the money from the cookies whether you go or not, you know!" he tenderly consoled me.

I didn't mention to anyone else what was going on. I quite frankly didn't think they'd notice one of their fourth trombonists was missing.

At the next band practice, French Horn prima donna, David Freitas turned to me and said, "You're not going on the band trip because your Grandmother's sick?!?!?" He said this with a mixture of sneering, disbelief and teen aged insensitivity.

So, Mr. Mac-fucking-Donald spilled the beans! And in a way so as to belittle my misguided priorities of putting a mortally ill family member ahead of BLAAAATING my trombone in the baked-bean state. (Notice I actually spelled out a curse word, here!)

Well, the band went on their precious trip. My Grandmother did, indeed, die. I went to the funeral (my first) and I cried.
Now, there are many more pain-in-the-ass band stories I could relate. (A clarient player was forced to apologise to the whole band for something that happened during the trip, for instance.) But I want to wrap this thing up soon. So I'll fast-forward a bit here...

The school year ended and I vowed to never sign up for band again.

"But, Craig, whatever happened to your trombone?" you ask...



Blogger the blogger formerly known as yinyang said...

You know, that last question was exactly what I was thinking about after reading your last post. Now, I'm kind of interested in the clarinet player... ;)

June 28, 2007 11:07 AM  
Blogger furiousBall said...

wow, I want Mr. MacDonald to be lit on fire now.

June 28, 2007 2:32 PM  
Blogger whimsical brainpan said...

Your Grandmother is dying and your band teacher is concerned about cookie money!? What an ass!

June 28, 2007 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

david friedas!! mr macdonald!!! fuckin a - 1972 all over again.. but soon we can go to the showplace and see let it be and jump.

June 28, 2007 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

by the way...where are you going on vacation..

June 28, 2007 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ergh. What a horrible experience to have.

(This is dragging on longer than the Studio 60, 400-part season / series finale!)

June 28, 2007 6:43 PM  
Blogger Gale said...

I was only talented enough to be in choir and by my senior year I was in Swing and Honor Choirs, which meant "Road TRip". Not for me, it was the oil embargo. School decided to not let us go. I was pissed. Stupid school, true not as tragic as a dying grandma. But it was my final year dammit!!!

June 29, 2007 8:55 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

Uh oh. My mother's ancestors lived all around the Colborne area. You don't suppose we're related, do you? None of them played the trombone, but one was a fiddler.

Nice band hat, by the way...

On life's pathway you do run into a fair number of assholes. Obviously some of them force kids to peddle cookies.

Bet your grandma was proud of you. Her child raised up a good boy.

June 30, 2007 7:48 AM  

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