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August 21, 2006

In which I ramble on about shoes from 1985

I'm starting to feel a little like Robert Fulghum. Not that I have his facility with the language, or his empathy, or his wit, but I do have all these stories saved up to tell you. Unfortunately, I can only tell you one at a time. The trouble is, by the time I'm ready to sit down and tell you one of them, something else has happened that makes me think of a different story entirely.

That has happened to me today.

I was going to tell you about when our stove caught on fire, and what happened in the aftermath and our journey towards new range ownership. Then in my next post after that I was going to maybe tell you about Scrabble. For now, though, I'm going to share an old marching band story, and it's all Lee Wright's fault.

Lee has a wonderful webspace at Blogger called The Wright Rants. You can find a link on my sidebar, or there's one here. He's not a frequent blogger, but when he posts it is well worth your time to go read what he has to say (he has a link to my blog as well--you'll recognize it by it being the one that doesn't work. Actually, I take that back. His link to Ben's journal doesn't work either. Come on, Lee! Slacker.). His newest entry, posted yesterday, is full of stories that he and some friends swapped over the weekend about falling down. I don't have any falling-down stories of my own to contribute, but a comment he made amidst the anecdotes did trigger a thought. He was talking about an old gym regimen, and described his usual workout outfit: "The workout clothes consisted of black sweatpants and a tee shirt. I was wearing black socks because, as I've said, I had not yet met Christie and, therefore, not had the complete wardrobe makeover that people so often comment on."

Ah, black socks. Now there's a memory.

It's not as mortifying as it seemed at the time, and in retrospect it's not even that funny, but it's a story about friendship, perseverance, and--most importantly--attention to detail.

In my Freshman year of high school (1985--God, has it been so long?), I was a trombonist in the Lithonia High School Marching Corps. We had taken our usual spring trip to Orlando, Florida, and were playing a series of performances in and around the city--marching in a parade at Disney, doing some kind of symphonic competition--the usual spring band trip stuff. One of the events was a parade at Circus World (which would be closed in less than three years, re-opening as Boardwalk and Baseball, which closed as well, soon thereafter. Maybe it's all my fault somehow.).

The plan at Circus World was for the band to march in their parade, then for the band members to change out of uniforms into causal clothes and to spend some time enjoying the park. Such as it was. The parade went without a hitch, and we retired to our buses to change--the boys to one bus, the girls to another. The changing was taking place with much banter and teasing back and forth. Suddenly, to my horror, I realized that I had not packed socks and shoes in my change of clothes bag. I had packed a t-shirt, hat, and shorts, but no socks or shoes.

Understand--this means that I had to wear black socks and black shoes with my shorts. In this day and age I wouldn't bat an eye, but in ninth grade it was a disaster. I was heartbroken. I told my friend David to go on without me, and resolved to stay in the bus for the rest of the day. David and a couple of other guys talked me into coming out, and I made it as far as the luggage compartment before I lost my nerve. I climbed up amongst the luggage and again stated my intention to move no further. David settled in as well and said he was staying too. When faced with such loyal friendship--he was willing to forego Circus World to stay with me!--what could I do but emerge, feet black-clad in clunky band clodhoppers, and venture into the park.

Of course, the day had a good vibe. I quickly forgot what was on my feet, and except for some ribbing from my friends, the day passed without incident. Looking back from 21 years later, of course it did. It was just a pair of shoes. To a shy 15 year old, though, it was much more than that--in the moment.

To this day I remain a bit short-sighted in my attention to detail (not to mention my short-term memory), but I grew that day. For practically the first time ever, I ventured outside my comfort zone. I allowed myself to be seen in public in clothes that I was embarrassed to be seen in. Of course, five years later I would have done it intentionally, and now, at age 36, I actually go out in public wearing open-toed shoes.

Maybe not as good a story as Lee falling off his porch (which actually reminded me of the scene in desperate Housewives last year when Gaby pushed what-his-name out the window into the hedge when Carlos came home, except that Lee wasn't naked. He was wearing black socks, however, which is what got this whole train of thought off the rails in the first place), but there you go. Of course, this entry got me thinking about other band-related stories I'm going to have to tell you someday--the PEN pals, Emory's Pep Band (such as it was), and all the various times that Mr. Beach got on to me for being a less-than-enthusiastic band member (which is a bit of a misconstruation, actually--I was enthusiastic, I just didn't care whether I was as good a trombonist as Todd Buck was, and it made Mr. Beach mad). So now I have to add all these band stories into the "to blog about" queue with the stove and Scrabble and the 77's and my marching band obsession and WMRE and Curious George and fantasy football and Okinawa and all the other stuff I need to talk about.

I name-dropped Robert Fulghum at the beginning of this entry. I'll quote him at the end, from the last page of All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten:

"...this is a place to pause. If the fabric of existence is truly seamless, the weavers must still sleep."