I was a dismal failure as a spectator at Finn’s Holiday Band Concert last night, earning at best a D in my latest rite of passage into teen parenthood.
Up until the concert began, the information I’d received from the band had been sparse: mandatory attendance at concert rehearsal on Thursday (check), strongly encouraged “donation” to band account (check written), and reporting to auditorium for concert in black pants and solid shirt, with instrument, at 6:40 for 7 pm concert.
I was under the impression that the concert was going to be sixth-graders only, and this seemed to be confirmed by the casual dress code. Finn assured me that collars weren’t required. We focused on the “Band” portion of the Holiday Band Concert, and he chose a long-sleeved black T-shirt that whispered, “CBGB may be defunct, but this ass will see plenty of other smoky bars before my drumming career is over.”
CBGB apparently wasn’t factored in the fashion choices of any other band members, all of whom concentrated on the “Holiday” aspect of the event, and sported bright green or red shirts (mostly collared) or the traditional band (and waiter) costume of black pants and white shirt. Finn looked cool but suspicious.
The concert took place at the high school auditorium, which is a beautiful facility except for the omission of a center aisle running from bottom to top, a problem I didn’t discover until Porter and I had walked across the seats and stood looking at a row of four seats together with no way to reach them, other than to mountaineer over, which is what I did.
My seat climbing skills are somewhat rusty, and I garnered a fair bit of attention, but soon Porter and I were settled in primo seats. I saw that many audience members were obviously much older than I. I deduced that they were present to hear their high-school children perform, teens whose antics have caused their parents to gray and wrinkle, and it was all extremely distressing to behold.
My neighbor confirmed that the elementary schools would perform, followed by the junior high and then the high school, and the entire concert could last two hours. Knowledgeable parents of elementary students sit on the aisles for easy escape after their offspring’s final note.
It was too late for me. The aisle were filled, the center was empty, and the lights were dimming. Bill and Drew walked in just in time to jump into the seats I’d wasted so much energy claiming.
The band director kicked the show off with a tepid welcoming speech, then added, “I’ve
noticed a disturbing trend of parents leaving after their pupil has performed, and we discourage that. We ask that you enjoy this lovely auditorium and hear all the players perform.”
That was fine for him to say, but had he left a hastily purchased Stouffer’s Lasagna cooking in his oven at home? It is one thing to sit through a concert played by strangers when you plan on doing it, but another thing entirely to land in the middle of a two-hour concert
unprepared. If the director needed me for two hours, he should have told me that much sooner, so plans could be made.
My stomach was grumbly, unsoothed by gin. My temperament was, too.
I weighed the embarrassment of getting up from the middle of the auditorium during
the concert, despite the conductor’s plaintive directions, against the humiliation of burning my house down with frozen food, and it wasn’t even close.
But when the music began, I perked up. The sixth-graders played their first song, and Finn’s bells rang out truer and sweeter than the rest. He switched to drums for the second tune, and his beat was steady and firm. At the end everyone clapped and I yelled, “Go drums!” and Bill elbowed me. No one else was shouting,”Horns Rule” or “Toot that flute, baby!” but doesn’t everyone appreciate positive feedback?
The duo and I snuck out after Finn’s part was over (“Excuse me, pardon me, we’re new at this”) and made it home to enjoy a succulent Stouffer’s chicken, noodle and chemical combination and head for bed.
As I drifted to sleep, the thumping drum beat of The Hannukah Song rang pleasantly in my ears.
This next post got lots of attention when I first published it on iVillage– apparently y’all are better at laundry than I am.
Two Years Ago in My Tiny Kingdom: What I Haven’t Been Doing