November 2006


Let’s see if I can sum up this holiday in the precious moments I have before somebody wakes up:

Went to the brother-in-law’s in Fayetteville and had the usual feeding frenzy throwdown in which Evan and I played Christmas carols on the guitar.  Not particularly well either but nobody seemed to care.  It was free after all.

Evan and I played construction worker and helped Steve build his new house.  Evan climbed the scafolding and I cut the wood down below.  For that he god paid and I did not.  Hazard pay perhaps.  (I didn’t expect to get paid – geez!)  Construction involves lots of lifting of heavy things and using dangerous tools in awkward positions – just the sort of geometry where you might lose a finger.

And now I’ve caught the head cold that everybody at work has had.  Grrr…!

After Friday’s performance, as promised, we hosted the cast party at our house.  Such things are frought with peril in the middle school world.  You never know if many people will show up, if the “right” people will show up, if the whole thing will bomb or what.  But we lucked out.  Every single cast member and stage hand showed up; from the preps to the nerds.  And by all accounts, everyone enjoyed themselves.  I got a nice warm fuzzy from it anyway.

This year, even their teacher showed up which was a bit weird.  The gossip on the street has it that she never shows up at the kids’ cast parties.  I can see that.  But I work with her husband and so kinda sorta know her.  Surprise!  They came!  After cleaning up that is. 

One observation:  the drama kids are the huggingest bunch I ever laid eyes on.  The girls were hugging each other all the time. 

I’m guessing that the fact that they were all together on stage working on a common goal led to the momentary breakdown in clique barriers.  As such, I feel the whole experience was worth doing.  The barriers stayed down at our house too.  Those days are numbered though; next year at the intermediate school, those cliques will solidify and never thaw out until they’re middle aged if then.  So I’m even more glad that everyone had a good time.

I made a timelapse video of it so that the whole party compresses to mere seconds.  That’s definately the way to watch the video of a party.

Last night we went to the performance of “Stardust” at the local middle school.  Erin is in the advance drama class and had a pretty big role.

It was fun.

I knew all along that she was in this thing and I was vaguely aware that they had been rehearsing but when it all came together I was surprised at how entertaining it was.  Of course, they have a good teacher.

The play is set in a performing arts school in the 50s and Erin’s role was as the crazy drama teacher.  She had the goofy cat-eye glasses and everything – even a toothbrush in her hair.  Her teacher had been giving her A’s in class and has occasionally told us that Erin has a flair for the dramatic but it took an actual performance to drive the point home.  Her performance was indeed good; but of course, I’m the Dad and so cannot be trusted to give anything like an objective opinion.  I have no interest in an objective opinion in fact.  Even if she’s terrible at something, my job is to be supportive but in this case, I believe that the many people stopping to tell me afterwards how good she was is what tells the tale as to her performance.

Various people stopped to tell me how good they thought she was and most of them quoted some line from the play that stood out in their minds – sort of like people quote funny lines from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” or “Office Space”.  In particular, when the character was in danger of losing her job, she lamented that

“I shall have to teach English!”

All eyes shot over to the entire English department sitting in the fifth row.  They all hooted with laughter rather than scowling dissapprovingly so it was all good.  The toughest critic of all was her older brother:  Evan who didn’t want to go at all.  He made a point of telling her that not only was he not bored but that it was really seriously good.  She responded to all of this by going home and collapsing into the bed and falling asleep instantaneously.  Apparently, acting is hard work.

So, there it is.  Erin’s performance was so good that people were complenting me.  I assured everyone that this little genetic trait did not migrate from my side of the gene pool.  But I was gracious about it.

Erin’s little gift to us was to annouce that the cast party was to be at our house tonight.  Mel’s response:

“AAAUUUUGHGHGH!”

She stopped at WalMart on the way home and left the house this morning in a tizzy – calling after her to mop the kitchen floor before I left for work.

Such is life.  First you give a stunning performance, then you have to mop the floor.  There’s a life lesson in there somewhere.

This weekend found Evan in Indianapolis, IN at the final band competition of the season.  This one was the “Bands of America” Grand National Championship.  Their website is a “.org” so the whole “Bands of America” title must be self-appointed.  No matter; all the bands believe it’s the competition to go to and that’s all that matters.  The marketing was done decades ago.  But anyway…

This was their superbowl.  The Pride has been going to this for many years and has never made it past seventh place.  Some years (like last year) they didn’t even make it into the finals even after stomping all the local competitions.  But Saturday, night they were ON. They gave the performance of their lives apparently (although I was not there to see it); so close to perfection that their director was in tears and it was the performance that counted.

They won first place.

A large number of parents went to this event and the stories they tell are of people shouting themselves hoarse and many tears being shed.  Evan says it was pretty awesome and the director even threw them the bone of not enforcing the bedtime Saturday night.

All the local media were informed but I didn’t see any of them when the busses rolled in last night at 8:30pm.   The busses were met at the edge of town by the local police who escorted them in with lights and sirens. Several fire trucks were there in the parking lot – also flashing and whooping.  I couldn’t hear them due to the honking of car horns by those of us waiting on them to show up.  There is another concert band that doesn’t march and these kids had shown up in full uniform to play the fight song as the busses rolled in.  Again, they couldn’t be heard over the cacaphony of honking car horns.  On any other night, they would have come home to silence but when you come home as #1, you get quite a welcome.

I heard later than channel 6 had a crew there and they got some video of the trophy.  It was one of those trophies like the superbowl one or the Indy 500 one; you keep it for a year, get your name on a little placque added to it, and you give it back to the next winner.  It even came in its own shipping case.  Every kid wanted their photo made next to it.  Except Evan, but he’s like that.  It was quite a melee for about an hour as all the kids whooped and hugged.  Quite a number of alums had showed up to congratulate the band – they had all been to the same contest before and knew how tough it was to win.

Some years ago, a documentary film was made about The Pride and it followed them to this contest; that was the year they made seventh place.  Too bad they weren’t around to document this.

I almost felt like everyone should go invade a restaurant and have a party into the night but we settled for stopping at Braum’s for hot chocolate and let Evan describe the weekend in his usual taciturn way.  I was sorry for it to end.  Not many people have the chance to do something where they can call themselves “number one” at the end and I wanted them all to have the chance to roll in it for as long as possible.   But we went home and that was that.

But maybe not.  There’s school today where I’m sure they will get some more notariety. Then I’m sure there will be at least one more thing at some point – Oklahoma magazine for example or something like that.  There’ll be no living with them after this.

This weekend was not quite to crazy.  Evan didn’t have any place to be nor did he have to work so he could just sit and do his mountain of AP homework.  He did have a study group over Sunday afternoon to work on a project but that was minimal.

Erin had some girls over to rehearse their parts of the school play – mostly just because Erin loves drama and so do her friends.

Mel spent the weekend working on a costume of Frederick The Great of Prussia who Evan is supposed to dress as for a project.  Apparently, the man played the flute which I was given the task of reproducing.  Flutes were wooden back in the day so this proved no big deal to a man like me with a wood lathe.

And so it went; I was able to purge all thoughts of my frantic work life from my head.

I did start another project (perhaps unwisely):  take at least one photo per day and weave the result into a slide show at the end of a year.  It’s harder than I thought to remember to take a photo each day – especially on those days when there is nothing in particular going on.  So far, they’ve been foliage, oven replacement, and marching band.  The final result should prove interesting.

This halloween went like most do for parents of teenagers (I guess):  I got home from work about half an hour before the trick-or-treaters hit the roads and my two had no idea what they would be doing that night.  But soon plans began to evolve and Erin soon had a friend over to help pass out candy and Evan had several guys invite themselves over to hang out in random teenage guy fashion.  Soon, they left to go trick or treat at a few girls’ houses.  They didn’t have costumes but they did have hats and Evan had a big fake beard.  We seem to have accumulated a trunkfull of old costumery in our attic and they raided this before leaving on their adventures.

But not before demolishing the pizza we had bought.

In a way, I am sad about the passing of the trick-or-treat phase where I escort the kids around the neighborhood but in another way, I like the way I got to sit at home and simply look at the little kids through the window as my kids handled the candy duty.  Erin had rigged a keyboard and piped it through her karaoke machine to create some unique sounds through her open window.  Nobody seemed scared though.

But it was fun.  Not too many trick-or-treaters this year for some reason.  Last year we were swamped.