I’ve written about band contests before. We went to another one this past Saturday in Putnam City (adjacent to Oklahoma City). I find them fascinating; sort of like football games but (as hard as it may be to believe) even grander spectacles. At least football games are over in three hours – band contests go from 9:00 am until around 11:00 pm. It was organized like a state fair with shuttle buses, remote parking, food concessions, T-shirt and other memorabilia concessions, and lots of teenagers in hot polyester uniforms.

It was hot too. Around 90 degrees and with the clear skies, the sun was blazing down on us spectators and sapping the energy out of us as it dried all the moisture out of our bodies at the same time.

This was a contest for schools of similar (huge) size in northeastern Oklahoma. Our school, Broken Arrow, is the largest in the state as far as student body size is concerned and the band certainly reflects it. But still, our school is only marginally larger than any other school in our division but our band appears to be twice the size of any other. It was a little embarrassing actually. Unfortunately, due to a combination of little time and a restrictive work environment I can’t include any of my photos here but they would be very illustrative of my point. Most schools, not surprisingly, showed up on flotillas of yellow school buses. The Pride of Broken Arrow, showed up in six Prevost rock-star charter buses. Other schools carry their gear in whatever trucks or trailers they can muster and many of them have seen better days. Broken Arrow has a brand new semi-truck trailer with a custom paint job featuring a photo-collage of the band kids and a huge banner: The Pride of Broken Arrow. The kids from other schools pretty much just walked by and stared, slack-jawed, at the spectacle. When dinner was served our kids were showered with a huge catered buffet while most of the other schools had some band parents with a grill cooking burgers and dogs. It was almost obscene.

Then there was the competition itself. BA won everything. I mean everything. The other schools were fighting for second place. I find myself unable to get down and roll in this success like most parents do. I actually feel sorry for the other schools; they truly had no chance. It would be like the football team going up against the Dallas Cowboys. Still, it is nice to be a part of the winning team. At BA, the band is almost as popular as the athletic program and actually wins more. That’s pretty unusual in our sports saturated world. I guess we’re in the right place since my family is full of musicians rather than gifted athletes.

The afternoon was long and hot but we broke after the preliminaries and went to CityBites cafe and had some excellent sandwiches. We also revelled in the air conditioned goodness for a long time until sundown. We then returned to the stadium and sat down for the long finals competition. Those aluminum benches get pretty tiresome after a few hours.

At somewhere around 11:00, we finished up. We walked to our car and made our way home, getting into bed around 1:30 am. Evan came staggering in at around 3:30 am and so getting up for church was not in the cards for us. Everyone slept in.

Everyone but me that is. I have this annoying tendency to get up soon after the sun comes up and so up I got. This time, I snuck off to the bakery to get Mel a birthday cake and some cinnamon rolls for breakfast so that by the time everyone else got up I had festiveness in the kitchen. Then by mid-afternoon, I used up all my energy and tried to take a nap. Unfortunately, Evan was in the middle of working a long set of physics problems so I was called upon to help.

Most parents would beg off but when you have an advanced degree in physics, you feel you have to help. When your degree in physics is over twenty years old and you’ve been writing software and managing projects for the last 10 years, you find that you’ve forgotten a great deal of that which you worked so hard to attain. I couldn’t remember how to compute sound intensities in decibels or that the sum of two logarithms is the logarithm of the product of the two terms. I don’t think I helped him much; indeed, I imagine that my credibility as a parent took a pretty serious hit amidships. So it is with raising teenagers.

I’m still tired. Maybe that’s it: I couldn’t remember the physics because I was still tired.

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