I sat four rows from the top
of Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls, Texas
with ten other members of the high school band
I belonged to.
The band director exiled all eleven of us
to the upper rows of the stadium because
of his displeasure with our performance.
He wanted to win every halftime routine.
He wanted to win a Number One rating
in the district marching contest.
It was obvious he hadn't seen THE BAD
NEWS BEARS, with its message that all
members of a team-no matter how weak-
should play in the championship game.
So we stayed seated in the upper rows-
glad to be out of school and curious to see
what his vision of High School Marching
Band perfection would look like.
It wasn't a pretty sight.
The straight lines weren't straight.
Few of the students picked up their feet
and pointed their toes.
The band achieved an amazing
imitation of a drunken slinky toy when
it came time to turn in the opposite direction.
The sound of music appeared and disappeared.
An hour later, the ratings for District 2-AA were read.
Our school received...a Number Four rating.
The band director threw his cigarette
and said a word that looked like shit
to those of us sitting four rows from the top.
The band director talked a lot about winning.
He never got around to teaching us how to lose.