I am an athlete.
Just kidding. I wish I was that tough, multi-vitamin-eating mom in the commercials who jogs through the park talking about how she’s good to herself, but I’m not.
That’s why I took band.
Every year during marching band season some of us woodwind players would be chosen to beef up the percussion section. My assignment – the bass drum.
It was the best year of my life – or at least in the top thirty. The bass drum section consisted of two bass clarinet players, one flute and one oboe. We were all female so we cleverly named ourselves GLOBDL – Gorgeous Ladies of the Bass Drum Line.
And we were. Especially decked out in our huge white shirts with the red ascot, the black pants, cummerbund, suspenders and the shiny military shoes. Did I mention the giant black sombrero? It was a lovely ensemble.
You might not consider marching band a sport, but it was hard work. Carrying a bass drum in the Oklahoma heat took stamina, keeping up with a maniacal drum major required speed and staying in step could involve complicated footwork.
When carrying my bass drum, all I could see was the plume of the saxophone player in front of me. After the football games we marched across the dark parking lot to the band room, a frightful trip made down a corridor of glaring headlights and impatient parents waiting for us to pass so they could get to Mazzio’s for pizza.
On one particular night, we’d lost an expected win. No fight song played, only the cadence to keep the band moving quickly through the gamut of disgruntled fans. I stepped over the parking blocks, trying to keep pace with lesser burdened instrumentalists, noticing how big the crowd was. No one had left early. Everyone wished they had.
Sharing their frustration our percussion section increased the tempo. The sooner the night was over, the better. Like a swiftly flowing river, we rolled through the parking lot toward the bandroom.
Once my feet hit the sidewalk, I lengthened my stride, trying to close the gap between myself and the brass section. Nothing to worry about on the grass. Clear sailing…
Except for that fire hydrant.
I don’t know how, but I hit it with both knees. My momentum carried me forward and with a crash that would leave massive bruises inside both of my arms, I landed on the drum in front of hundreds of stunned onlookers. The drum rolled until my sombrero hit the ground and my feet waved above me like the flag from the Iwo Jima memorial. In vain, I struggled to right myself but the fire hydrant wouldn’t allow the drum to roll backwards and my harness wouldn’t let me dismount.
I’ll admit it took me a moment to realize how completely stuck I was because the tuba player plowing into me was a distraction. A veritable pileup occurred, although all I could see was dirt and the inside of my sombrero. Before I could be assisted half the brass section had to be reversed and Mr. Tuba disentangled from his instrument. For awhile some considered calling the fire department, but a shop teacher stepped in to coordinate the clean up, making the Jaws of Life unnecessary.
The injury I sustained would go down in band history – more spectacular than the lip-splinter the oboe player got from her reed or the concussion the flute player received from the trombonist. Every time we walked past a fire hydrant someone would throw themselves over it to protect me, ensuring that the incident would never be forgotten.
So don’t look for me on the co-ed softball team or on the tennis court. Given my history any attempt at sports would be foolhardy. You might have had a torn ACL or bad tennis elbow. I had a drum roll.
Do you have any unusual sports (or band) injuries? I’d love to hear about them.