You might not know The Greeting Committee. You oughta.
Not my favorite song, but I like the video
This playlist here.
All Music Mondays here.
March Madness means wild celebrating, over-joyed faces and dances, and also the very image of being heartbroken. While watching a game this past weekend I saw a guy who looked like a dork, a guy who is on the team but who I can’t picture getting any minutes. And if I had played college basketball, I would’ve been that guy.
Oh man, guys … oof, right?
Ok, yeah, lots of tears in this locker room. I get that. I know that even though we’re on the same team some of you are looking at me like, “who is this guy?” Which is pretty rude since there’s only fourteen of us but whatever.
While all of you were training to take us so far and come so close, like … so, so close. I mean, did you see that? Shoot sorry. This isn’t helping.
Dudes! Think about all the sweet sympathy hugs we’re going to get! Probably from pretty girls, too!
Wait, ok, since I have all of your attention … how old are you? I feel like I should always call you sir, and not because you’re 2.7 million times better than me at basketball. But you look like you should be celebrating your tenth wedding anniversary. At least. How are your four kids? Is it tiring being a college basketball player and masquerading as someone much younger than you?
Shoot. Ok. Distracted again. I’m cheering the team up. Uhhh … did you guys see there’s a grocery store by here? Pizza Lunchables on me, guys.
Oof. Tough crowd. So much crying.
All right, I don’t need to shower or anything so … I’ll be at the grocery store, don’t let the bus leave without me!
In sixth grade I had the pleasure (pfff ha ha) of playing in the East Middle School brass section. How did I get awarded this honor? Hard work? Stick-to-itiveness?
In gym class one day we were told we could sign up for band. If you were in the band you got to miss gym two days a week.
Thus began my music career.
At the first ‘lesson’ we were told we could pick whatever instrument we wanted but we’d have to supply it. Or we could pick one of the instruments the school had.
I had already gone through a period of my life known as ‘Tears of Sadness, Tears of Pain’ aka when my parents bought my sister a violin and she was learning (was she, though?) how to play. I remember going to my sisters ‘concert.’ When they warmed up it sounded like someone had taken the emotions associated with being an abandoned orphan and put them to music.
Thankfully, my sister’s violin sat useless in its case. My parents decided, having learned their lesson, they would buy me an instrument if I demonstrated a real passion for it. The school had the following options for instruments to borrow from them: French horn.
Thus began my rather inauspicious French horn career.
I was none too pleased with the pick. I had asked my mom to buy me a saxophone. They have tons of keys and they’re not that big. Instead I had the French horn.
Had Lisa Simpson played the French horn, maybe I would’ve been more excited.
Another thing that was unfortunate was that there were a grand total of three keys. Three keys and I am supposed to move my lips into different positions to generate different notes with the same key combinations.
Le what? Le did you just tell me I’m supposed to move my lips to make different notes? I’m not French and I’m not a miracle worker, so let’s get real, French Horn.
On days where I would not have gym, but instead music class, I had to bring in the beast. The beast had a carrying case which was huge. This did not make me happy. As though I was not dorky enough already, I now had to ride the bus home with a huge black case sitting next to me.
“Is this seat taken?”
“Oh yes … this is where my French horn sits …”
“Yeah … like I said, French horn.”
One day I realized the following. I hate the French horn.
1, I’m not good at it.
2, I’m only going to become better with practice.
3, I suck so bad I get angry when I hear myself play.
How do you solve such a tough dilemma? Ah, but I am a creative problem solver!
French horn? Check. Music? Check. Dorky stand thing? Yes fine, whatever. CD player? Check! Headphones? CHECK! Let’s do this!
Beautiful music came flooding into my poor little ears – you really have to turn the music up really loud if you want to be able to drown an instrument you are, simultaneously, playing. At the end of practicing a song for the French horn I’d happily yell out, “hey mom! That any good?”
This style of practice did not last very long at all.
At some point the school invited parents to come out for a show. A large part of the show would be musical – with groups separated by grade. Over there are the eighth graders. Over there are the seventh graders. And here us lowly sixth graders sit.
We filed into the gym and took our seats.
My friend sat down beside me. After a bit of time he politely asked, “hey Brad do you mind if we switch chairs?” I of course obliged. I could care less about this music show. I wanted to not be there.
At the shows end parents came up and smiled and probably pretended to scratch their ears – while secretly pulling out ear plugs. My friends dad came up and congratulated him on being ‘first chair.’
Huh? First chair? What does that mean?
Later I learned what this meant and I was, frankly, impressed and stunned. Impressed because – well done, you little sneak. Stunned because, really? You do know we’re in sixth grade. And we play the French horn. Maybe he got ice cream for being first chair or something, in which case that move was understandable.
The bright spot of moving at the end of that year was that my new school had no such program, and no French horns. They were out of my life forever. Such raw, animal talent lays in me still – sometimes at night I purse my lips and hear someone saying, “no … no … no that’s still not right … try to make the note … no … no … try emptying the spit out … ew … that was a lot of spit … ok … no … no …”
I’m watching football and scanning old family photos today and stumbled on this – fantastic.
The end of sixth grade was coming fast, and with it, a move. This time I’d be going from Leavenworth, Kansas to West Point, New York.
School would finish, I’d go to Arizona to see family on summer break, and then on to NY. Life was going to roll on by pretty quick for a while – but not before an important life event.
My first girlfriend.
At school with about a week of school left I was stopped by a girl.
Would I want to go out with her best friend?!
I did some quick thinking. The obvious answer was: no.
I didn’t want to go out with anybody.
I’d found girls pretty, or at least appealing since I was young. I’d just never wanted to date a girl. Really, I didn’t mind not talking to them. I liked it a lot if they found me funny, and I liked to imagine dating girls – but reality is much harder to control than my imagination, so I stuck with that.
I had no confidence. I was a romantic conspiracy theorist. Why did that girl just smile at me? Oh, it’s a joke! That’s so mean! Any thing that should’ve been perceived as a girl having a crush on me I saw as some attempt for me to lower my guard, only to then be made fun of.
But if this girl wanted to date me until I moved, whatever floats her boat.
Thus began my romantic life!
You’d think – with me ‘going steady’ (that’s just funny to me), that my life would change a lot.
I’d have to sit with the girl at lunch, or nearby her at class, or walk with her in the hallways – but no, none of this happened. Looking back, I probably was supposed to do these things.
I assumed our relationship was just in title, not in deed. So she could say, “yeah, that’s my boyfriend over there … He’s so … Oh … Don’t look at him, he’s trying to figure out how much of his peanut butter sandwich he can fit in his mouth at once. Gross.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t know until then that middle school girls love the telephone.
“Hello … may I ask who’s calling? … Oh! … One second! … BRAD!”
Who would call me? I thought, Why is my mom grinning?
What? First, who calls me? Second, a girl?!
I came to realize it was the “girlfriend.” And her friend who had asked me out.
I got the cordless and headed to my room. Once I was in my room I was sure a family member (possibly several, led by my mother) would creep up and eavesdrop. Fuel for making fun of me.
I didn’t want to be talking on the phone – it cut into my video game time. Or TV time. Or playing with my dog. Or anything-but-talking-on-the-phone time.
One day the two called and they sang me a song. Yes, they sang to me. At the conclusion of the phone call I applied my best charm to say, “Yeah … well … it stinks about my going to New York, huh?”
“Ya know, New York …”
“You’re going on a trip to New York!!”
“Ha, no! I’m moving … there …”
Uh oh. Had I forgotten …
I had forgotten to tell everyone but my closest friends that I was moving. And my closest friends didn’t include a single female. I hadn’t thought much of it but this was especially bad because we lived off-Post in Kansas so my friends didn’t up and move like clockwork. What a weird concept!
My budding love came to a screeching halt. All blame, of course, goes to the U.S. Army.
How dare you, wrecker of love!
At some point during sixth grade my dad came around with some news.
“Family meeting, family meeting …”
No, I actually have no idea how he announced this. It’s funny, I don’t remember one single time when my dad or mom announced to the family that we’d be moving. It seems like there should be some sort of psychological conclusion there, maybe that I blocked them out because the announcements always impacted me more than I realized but … nope! Pure coincidence!
Anyhow. We were going to be moving. Kansas to New York.
The interesting thing about Kansas was that we lived off post.
This had its ups and downs. I was exposed to new things (really, there is a difference between living on post and living off post).
One of my closest friends, when I told him I would be moving, said, “so you come and you suck the friendship right out of us! And then you leave?!” This was in sixth grade. Talk about your funny. This guy always killed me (if you’re reading this Jimmy – hello!).
When I moved I would usually tell my close friends because, after all, they were the people who would need to know this. Living on post, you kind of expect that at the start of the next school year you won’t see a few faces, but you’ll see a few new faces. It was a nice rotating yearbook.
Before moving from Kansas, my ‘cool’ friend got me invited to an end of the year party.
We made it through sixth grade! Life is good! Let’s go hang out in someone’s basement and listen to the Spice Girls! YEAH!
When I got to this party I knew most of the people … I just generally never spoke to them. As a rule, I try very hard to clam up and become nervous and … if possible … look even more gangly than usual.
I stood around nervously and chatted a bit.
After a little bit we played … You’ve gotta be kidding me … What am I on a bad teenage TV show? Am I Doug Funny? Am I Cory Matthews? Are we seriously about to play this!?
Spin the bottle.
I had not kissed a girl yet. This was panic inducing. Luckily I still did not have acne (though for all I know my face instantly became riddled with zits as soon as I heard the phrase, ‘spin the bottle!!’).
When it was my turn I spun the bottle. Round and round and … Hey … It pointed toward a girl I actually really liked! She was … smarts-wise … not my style. But looks-wise, yes please!
Based on her reaction, she did not feel the same way.
How do you say … ouch.
I did a terrible Italian accent and pretended to kiss her on both cheeks.
I included this side story because it’s somewhat funny and a milestone moment (my first and only game of spin the bottle!) and because DANG! Cool thinking under pressure, huh? I mean really! I was in sixth grade, I just found out this girl I liked did not like me one bit, and I came up with that joke. Not too shabby, 6th grade self.
The highlight of the night for me came later.
A slow dance song came on and a girl I’d known since third grade (when I moved there) said let’s dance. I painfully (I was so embarrassed!) admitted that I had never slow-danced and did not know how.
She said I’ll teach you. She said it like it was no big deal.
Sincerely, this blew my mind. I fully expected to be laughed at and made fun of. Isn’t this where the lights dim and random attractive figures appear and point at me while they laugh?
She and I danced. Her hands on my shoulders. My hands around her waist. The standard foot to three feet distance between us.
It was magical.
We slowly pivoted, turning in very slow circles. We chatted a bit.
At some point I realized –
“I feel like a penguin.”
Of course! All I have to do is be funny! This joke totally worked! And the way we were dancing, we probably looked like penguins too!
I danced with a few other girls and I made the same joke to each one of them (I am so cool, huh?).
One girl said I was funny and that she wished we had hung out more at school this past year. That was an awesome compliment for me. I was invited to hang out over the course of the summer and to of course hang out next year at school! We’ll all be best friends!
“Oh actually … I’m moving.”
NEW YORK! WHEN!?!!??
“Umm … like a few days.”
I had told my good friends about my move. And that was it. Apparently this was a mistake – was I supposed to have taken out a school flier?
Really, it was a good night for me.
I pretended to kiss a girl.
I danced with a girl.
To this day I can clam up about dancing. Luckily, I enjoy alcohol and alcohol enjoys making me do the robot.
Bracket? I Hardly Know It!
It’s almost March Madness time, BABY! (That’s my Dick Vitale – who annoys the hell out of me, BABY!) I enjoy college basketball now, sort of. For example, last year I watched the final game between whoever and their opponent (go underdog!), BUT, I did arts and crafts while watching the game. Seriously.
I took construction paper and cut out giant numbers for a clock. Then I taped these numbers on my bathroom wall, and I gutted your simple, average school clock (the big white one with the black lettering) so that just the motor was left, and I taped that on the wall. Wha-la! Arts and crafts!
The most interested I ever was in a college basketball game I wasn’t attending (if I’m there all bets are off – I’m INTO it) was when I put 20 bucks on Boston College to beat somebody. I was in Vegas with the fam and let’s GOOOOOOO twenty bucks! BC lost. Stupid BC.
Anyhow, as a kid, I had even less interest (which is a very tiny amount of interest) in basketball. So what did I do when I was forced to fill out a bracket?
I lived in Leavenworth, Kansas from the 3rd to 6th grades. Most of my friends there, and it seemed like a majority of the town, were crazy for Kansas. That is, the University of Kansas Jayhawks. There was the occasional fan for Kansas State, but mostly we were in Jayhawk territory.
That’s how it goes in a state with two big schools, you’ll find something similar in Arizona where you’ve got Arizona vs Arizona State.
Because people were crazy for Kansas, and Kansas was (and is) consistently a big contender in college basketball, people talked about college basketball.
I liked playing basketball with my family, and I did the very stereotypical boy thing of practicing buzzer beater shots in our driveyway.
“5 seconds Stanley’s coming down the court! 4 seconds! Stanley passes to … Stanley … 3 seconds! … he puts UP THE SHOT! … um … HE WAS FOULED! HE WAS FOULED! I CAN’T BELIEVE HE WAS FOULED!”
I have a great imagination, which really came in handy because I was (and am) a lousy shot. You wouldn’t think someone would be fouled while doing free throw shots at the very end of the game, but in my daydreams I was. Fouled over and over and over – until I made the shot.
Anyhow, the extent of my basketball knowledge was just how bad I was at basketball.
In gym, when brackets were passed out and EVERY (seemingly) boy around me got excited, I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t confident enough to clearly show my ignorance, and it really did feel like everyone knew what this bracket meant and who these teams were. I thought the best and most logical option was to pretend I knew exactly what I was doing.
“You put Gonzaga as advancing? Brad, I don’t know … do you know something?”
Um. Gonzaga sounds like a nickname for a part on a woman’s body? So I picked that? How do I explain my reasoning, when I have no reasoning?
I put Arizona as going all the way, because that was my dad’s favorite team. I had watched basketball, and it could be enjoying (the last few minutes at least), but for the most part it didn’t hold my interests. I’d rather be DOING something.
I looked at the bracket like it was a math problem, and people weren’t actually involved.
“The sixteenth ranked team against the first ranked team … well, obviously the first ranked team … unless it’s a trick …”
I turned in my bracket having confidence I would be out soon – and hope that the gym coach (or anyone) would throw it away without studying it.
“That Brad kid is amazing! He picked every losing team in the first round!”
This year my arts and crafts project while watching the game will be to do some collages of a sort. I’m a man’s man, and don’t you forget it.