FFHS makes being in band cool [UPDATED]Published 5:42am Monday, January 21, 2013 Updated 7:45am Monday, January 21, 2013
While proofing the front page of Wednesday’s paper, one of my reporters asked me whether those who were standing up and cheering for the Fergus Falls Marching Band as they performed at halftime of Tuesday’s girls basketball game should be referred to as “fans” instead of “supporters.”
I said, “dang right they should be referred to as fans.”
As a former member of the Little Falls Marching Band, I felt it was about time the band members have fans.
As a person who loved playing sports but never made a varsity squad in high school that had actual fans attend (thus, I don’t count golf), and as a long-time music enthusiast who never actually played in a rock band, I never really had fans.
Let’s face it — most people don’t.
The fact is, when I was in school, being in the band was often a social detriment rather than an asset.
The tall, strong, fast athletes who played football, basketball, hockey and wrestling were adored, considered the most popular in high school. They got the girls. They were part of the “cool” crowd, the ones who had their own parties, who sat together at lunch.
Meanwhile, we band “dorks,” as we were called back then, had to get our lips all red and chapped while playing instruments and wearing uncool uniforms.
Sure, we had a great time hanging out with each other — I met some of my best friends in school in the band. But we were clearly relegated to the uncool lunch tables, didn’t exactly get noticed much by the girls, and didn’t get invited to the cool parties.
There were band members who also played sports, to be sure. But band was more of an embarrassment for them. They secretly enjoyed being in the band, playing their instruments, and hanging out with the rest of us. But did they consider it something they’d put on their high school popularity resume? I’d think not.
My question is, why did this have to be?
As a musician, I spent many hours practicing the tuba (considered in my day to be among the least cool of instruments, by the way, compared to, say, saxophone or drums).
We spent countless summer days in our sweaty marching band uniforms, making sure we were in step while lugging around those massive mounds of plastic and brass.
How was my talent and effort any less worthy of glory and adoration than someone who succeeded at a sport simply because he was tall and/or fast?
So a quarter of a century later, watching my band descendents pack the Fergus Falls High School Gold Gym to watch the marching band, seeing the band members appear on national television as they get a shout-out from President Barack Obama (or we should hope this time), it’s hard not to pump the chest out and feel proud, maybe even shed a tear.
After all, these aren’t just Fergus Falls kids. They’re band kids.
As I heard in a movie one time, they deserve to stand up and say, “I’m in band, and I’m proud!”
Thanks to our band, 25 years later, I can finally say it.
• • •
I’ve never been known as a hypochondriac (definition: A person who is abnormally anxious about their health.)
But this past week, with my daughter getting the flu, and news reports constantly reporting on how bad the flu virus is this year, I have taken on Woody Allen qualities (famous director who also is a famous hypochondriac.) Every ache, sneeze, and sniffly nose incident (which happens a lot anyway because I’m allergic to lots of stuff), I have said to myself, “Here it comes.”
Not only have I been washing my hands constantly, eating a pileload of citrus fruit, getting a flu shot, and drinking lots of fluids, I actually have been telling people at work that, any day now, I will become sick, so be prepared for my absence.
As I sit here in the middle of the week, it hasn’t happened yet.
Of course, with a weekend ski trip planned, I’m sure the bug will strike me while careening down the slope.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org