There is life after high school…

If it hadn’t been for Angie, i would have ignored the invitation.  A High School Marching Band reunion.  i played bass clarinet in the marching band for two years, before bailing out to drink and smoke weed focus on academics.

She was an enthusiastic clarinetist, a year behind me in school.  She was the reason i switched to bass clarinet.  As a second year student, i was “second chair, first clarinet” and Angie was “first chair, second clarinet”.   She wanted to move up, and i was in her way, so just about every week she would “challenge”.

i got tired of it, and asked to play bass.  i was a slug, but i wasn’t going to let her beat me!

i’ve gotten pretty attached to her through the eff-books.  An engaging woman, battling her lifelong problem with her weight, she has been one of the few positive voices in the cacophony that is facebook.  We’ve corresponded over a variety of things – from her challenges with her teenager, weight loss/gain, and medical issues.

She is a five-year survivor of ovarian cancer.  She was recently diagnosed with early stage MS.  She drove 500 miles to go to that damn reunion.  i wanted to give her a hug.

And i did…

We started collecting at the American Legion hall.  The reunion was for all years of marching band alumni, including the drill and flag team members, so there were about a hundred folks attending.

What?  No bar.  No beer.  Crap.  No flask, either.  Deep breath.  Realized it wasn’t the end of the world, but when dealing with ghosts of the horrid high school years, it’s a reasonable way to take the edge off.  Potato chips?  Close enough…

Angie wasn’t too far behind me – and i got to deliver that hug i’ve wanted to give her for the past few years.  It felt good.

The big surprise of the night?  The Band Director, retired after 30 + years, showed up.  Mr. P.  A wiry, hyper man. Yelled a lot.  Cute as hell, we all had terrible crushes on him.  Jazz musician, he’d won our hearts with his quirky sense of humor and crooked smile.

His greatest talent, however, was being able to bitch us out in a constant stream while pulling, packing, lighting and smoking a cigarette.  Throwing his clipboard to the turf, he’d stomp around, and give us holy hell for being losers…

These are, sadly, all things that teachers can’t do anymore.  A pity.

When Mr. P walked in with his wife, the place erupted in cheers!  Mrs. P, another band alumni, had been one of my pals from those years ago, and it was great to see her, too.  She was a couple of years behind me in school…

By the time i wandered over to say hello, Mrs. P’s eyes bugged out of her head as they moved from my face to my name tag, and back again.  “Daisyfae?  Really?”

They both dug around for words… but i saved them the trouble.

“Go ahead.  Say it.  i look better now than i did then.  Same weight as i was then, i just stopped giving a shit about it, and i own it… and i’m really happy.”

But given how i looked in high school?  It really doesn’t take much to look better….

42 thoughts on “There is life after high school…

  1. i’ve only been to one high school reunion. the interesting thing is that i enjoyed it at the time, but now having reacquainted myself with a few old chums thanks to FB, i almost want to just back away and disappear into the ether again. we’ve all changed, that’s for sure, but sweet mary sunshine, i can not, for the life of me and hand to gawd, figure out how these conservative pissant women are the same fire breathing radicals i knew in high school! we were the product of high times and misdemeanors in the catholic church, taught by women who said question everything and wtf happened? is it really true that all it took was a haircut and a change of clothes to become that which we once abhorred? (damn, sorry about my personal rant, sugarpie!) anyway, you looked great back in the day! ;~) xoxox

    • Exactly the same thing here — three years ago, i got sucked into facebook, connecting with a lot of long-lost people from the high school era. Several of them turned out to be people i enjoy, and have a good bit in common with, so those connections ‘took’. Several others? Ick. Some of the strident ‘hollerers’ (from both sides of the spectrum) got booted in my last ‘friend purge’. i’ve been thinking i’m overdue for another purge….

      Like you, i have no idea how some of my old pals have gotten older and meaner. But they can pound sand. Don’t want no mean in my corner of the internet…

  2. Yeah! Don’t be ridiculous! You are a cutie, then and NOW!
    I would not have guessed that you were in the band…I actually envy those who can play an instrument since I cannot. Note to self: learn to play a piano or something…one more thing on the bucket list…
    Have a great week daisyfae!

    • Thank you, dear! the music was important to me… but the clarinet was not. not the instrument i wanted to play (saxaphone) but it was what we could afford. i can’t say that i’ve touched a clarinet in decades… but the guitar took…

  3. The not worrying about it makes one appear more attractive. The endless female complaints about weight and so on are such a turn off, so impervious to any simple, honest, statements such as “But you’re gorgeous!”

    Of course it doesn’t work if she looks like the back of a bus.

    Your old photos makes you look like one of those academic arty girls that I would have hovered around without ever saying anything to.

    • when the old school mates see me, and comment on how different i look, i usually end up telling them that i really don’t look any different… i feel completely different however. and i smile. a lot. i don’t think i ever smiled in all four years of high school. i thought i had crooked teeth. smiling has probably done more to change the way i am perceived than any adjustments to the ‘weight and balance’ of my body…

      i remember gents like that from high school. impossible to read whether you guys were hovering because you liked us, or because you wanted to skin us and make us into girl-suits…

  4. Oh, I love that pic of you. Didn’t realize you’ve been playing guitar since that tender, young age. An Epiphone! Do you still have it? I had one, too.

    Teaching must be the most satisfying profession. Nobody is going to cheer when I walk into a room 20 years from now. What? Some cranky investment banker is going to remember a particularly well-designed brochure I did? Methinks not.

    • That was a 12-string epiphone. Bought it used, with every stinking dime of my savings, when i was 15 years old. Been playing since i was 12 (“and boy are my fingers tired… ba-dum-DUM!”). It was a piece of shit. 12-strings are tough anyway… those strings put an amazing amount of pressure on the neck. Inside there was a crack. Unscrupulous seller stuffed it full of guitar picks and sold it to an unsuspecting 15 year old kid for all of her fucking babysitting money.

      no. i tried to repair it, had a few scrupulous folks look at it and say “bury it” rather than take my money to attempt repair. so eventually it was given to one of the shops i went to… got a decent deal on a used 6-string that was actually playable…

      i now have some rather amazing instruments… bought with money that i barely miss. and i never fucking play them the way i played that piece of shit guitar… life’s funny like that…

  5. I love that picture too!
    If you ever want to give a try to the clarinet again, come over. We have a really good one. I’d advise you to bring your own reeds though. Ick.
    Hell, come over anyway!

    • that pic is from our junior year yearbook. two friends and i playing at a school assembly. before i would sing in public. ha. now i can’t be stopped…

      i don’t miss the clarinet, but appreciate your kind offer. i am likely to donate mine to one of the local schools. hated that damn thing. still do. but there was something way damn cool about the bass clarinet. i got to hang out with the trombones. we were badass like that…

  6. Ah, reunions. Our class gave up and just started meeting in a bar twice a year. No organization beyond picking the date, and no pressure. If you miss it this time you can catch the next one. It is good when the old favorite teachers show up, though.

    • a much better idea. we’ve done a few ‘pick up’ reunions (compliments of the facebook connections) when one of our out-of-town classmates is going to be in range. those have been far more fun than the organized ones… the delight in seeing this particular teacher was surprising. he is a good animal, Mr. P.

  7. Yep, reconnecting with people you liked and still like is important.If we’re lucky, the small changes take second place to old warmth and loyalty. That said, I’m sort of sad to see what some lefties have become.Perhaps they think that about me? Struth!

    • for a million reasons, i keep my political/social leanings off the facebook page – although anyone with a brain could figure it out. i’ve been fascinated to find that some of my conservative acquaintances assume i’m a right-winger, and some of my liberal connections assume i’m far more leftist than i am… ahhh… the power of projection…

    • Funny how quickly the smoking culture has disappeared – the thought of a teacher smoking in front of students, let alone in the classroom, is astonishing to me!

      Even those GIGANTIC glasses? Those things were bigger than my head! i could have used them as a lens for an astronomy class “build your own telescope” project!

  8. personally i think you look fabulous but then, i also view myself with different eyes, in my late 20s it finally sunk in, to be the number i thought i should weigh i’d have to lose a foot in height…wasn’t gonna happen, much happier now

    • gigantic glasses and flannel were quite fashionable in those days… as for the weight? i really believe that i am at my ‘set point’. literally the same weight today as i was then… although i’ve been up 75 pounds heavier, and been about 35 pounds lighter (for one week) over the past decades… it’s a number. i’d like to weigh less for my general health. but like you, i know it ain’t gonna happen…

    • thank you, dear… i catch myself looking at the ‘awkward’ kids around town. the ones that look a little off-center (the way i did). i want to tell them they are beautiful. but that would seem pretty weird… and would likely land me in court.

    • Welcome to The Park, Mme. Weebles! Any friend of the good nurse is truly a friend of mine! i’ll have a wander over to your blog when i have a few moments of respite from the crunchy-crispy week that awaits me… Thank you for your kind words!

  9. started in the marching band as a freshman in high school. wanted to play the drums, but our “Mr. P” made me (and my 2 best friends) carry a stick with the school initials until he had “learned us up”. Best times of high school. The cute sophomore who really knew the drums caught my eye, but we were sworn enemies. I was a “wanna be” and he was too cool. 41 years later, I’m the coolest thing he ever saw. Life is good. Love your stories Daisy Fae.

    • Hello, lady! Always so happy when you de-lurk! And what a glorious story! So you snagged the cool drummer — quite a catch! Drummers are the notorious ‘bad boys’ of band…

  10. I was an orch dork in middle and high school, and our director used to turn red and throw tantrums, too. Kinda wish smoking were still allowed at that time, because I think it would have taken the edge off … for all of us.

    • how have i never heard “orch dork”? probably because we had ‘band’ – complete lack of stringed instruments doesn’t even come close to ‘orchestra’… there was something alright about him smoking. made us feel more grown up. and those tantrums? made us feel like working harder for him – because when he was happy with what we did? he was just as demonstrative… hmmm… have we sucked the joy out of the student/teacher relationship? give ‘em cigs and steroids…

  11. I can’t play music to save my soul …..
    but I’m a Groupie from WAAAAAAY back! lol

    I never went to any of my school reunions.
    I didn’t feel the need.
    I was a geek/dork/freak, and I just didn’t fit in.
    Not that it matters …. a whole slew of them have hunted me down on FB.

    You look as you always do ….. BEAUTIFUL! :)

    • the facebook thing has run the course for me. i’m using it as a bully pulpit now — have ‘branded’ myself, and hope to entertain and inform. like a blog, without all of the ‘fucks’. the bike advocacy is key. the rest of it? meh….

      and thanks for the kind words. “beautiful” is a word the girl in that photo never heard…

    • i was one of the handful of guitarists in our 1,000 person high school. didn’t think it made me cool. it usually just made me want to pee my pants when i was roped into playing for someone else… but i did it. wearing the cloak of self-consciousness…

  12. Ha! Found a way to outwit Blogger and start leaving comments again. Course I had to dress up as someone else and get a gmail address (presumably so that the fiends can monitor my every thought) but you know you’re worth it.

  13. I believe you nailed it. With summer, comes time to catch up on reading, so naturally I checked out the missed Daisyfae posts. All reunions seem to be a combination of bittersweet moments. I wasn’t remotely artistic unless you want to count the fact that I had the ability to project well on stage so was always envious of the kids that could play an instrument. I remember a few trio performances of yours. Daisyfae has always been interesting. You fascinated me because on one hand you seemed to envelop yourself into whatever background was possible yet in the right comfort zone your witty sarcasm would sing out. Singing, an ability I never acquired. True story – Mr. P and Ms. H once told me to only audition for non-singing parts. Sorry, memories have the unpleasant side effect of causing our minds to wander off on tangents. I agree with your self- analysis; the only thing missing is the radiant smile so many now enjoy (also good that you rethought the glasses).

    • thank you, gingertea… if you noticed me working that hard to blend into the scenery, then i guess i wasn’t as good at it as i thought! what i wouldn’t have given for an invisibility cloak in those days…

      Sorry that those toss-off comments from the music/drama teachers still sting. but i know how that goes. funny how those things stay with you… and i’m sure neither of them would ever remember saying it.

      for what it’s worth? at my next party you and i are doing a duet! loudly and with reckless abandon!

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