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Marching to my own beat

Prior to my fitness awakening two years ago, the only optional exercise I consistently took part in was marching band my freshman year of high school. It was so hardcore I threw up after the first day. No hyperbole necessary, I literally up-chucked my breakfast in the car on the way home. Luckily my family steals barf bags from airplanes, so I didn’t stain the interior. Other injuries during that year included a spontaneous nose bleed on the field, rubbing a patch of flesh off the heal of my right foot because my marching shoes didn’t fit correctly, and dragging my sorry ass to the shade of the conductor’s podium after nearly collapsing from heat stroke.

I only lasted a year before I turned in my brocade jacket and feathered hat. I doubt they mourned my loss because I was a crap marcher. I didn’t even play for the second half of the routine. The point was mute (ha, ha) because I was a flutist, so you couldn’t hear me anyway. I also got the impression they were trying to get me to quit, though I might have been paranoid. However, several times someone would mention the fact that if just one person quit we would drop out of the AAA division and into the AA division where the competition wouldn’t be as tough.

For some reason I ended up in a pretty important spot in the formation. I was the one who had to lead the entire band onto 50 yard line mid-show so the flag guard could toss their flags over our heads. (That’s one injury I missed, impalement by Technicolor flag pole.) Then I was the one who had to lead the band off the field. Me, the fat freshman who couldn’t march. What were they thinking?

I never acclimated to the band culture. These people were serious about their jazz running. The flag guard dressed very slutty, even for the hot weather. They’d frequently be wearing only sports bras and short shorts, which must have affected the guys, but I guess they had plenty of opportunities to walk those effects off. I was also set apart because I couldn’t squat for long periods of time. There was some dumb rule that you couldn’t sit your ass on the field, so during long breaks when they were fixing something in another part of the formation people would squat. I could never squat for more than a couple seconds and my feet paid the consequences in pain.

These days I can squat for long periods of times, mostly when I am searching for cat toys under the couch or fridge. However, you couldn’t pay enough money to run around a field while playing show tunes ever again. I was glad I stuck it out for the entire year though, if only for the sense of accomplishment if not the hundreds of dollars my parents spent on dues.

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Annie • December 7, 2006 at 1:35 pm

Don’t you just love when you are able to do something you couldn’t before like the squatting? I know that is one of the best parts for me.


Janice Bridge • December 7, 2006 at 2:22 pm

I, for one, am HUGELY grateful that there was/is life after high school! My life has improved in each decade. . .but I remember with almost fresh pain, the difficulties of ‘surviving’ high school


NicoleW • December 7, 2006 at 9:42 pm

Oooh, I love being able to squat too. Can’t imagine having to do it in a marching band uniform in the heat, though.


Samiam • December 7, 2006 at 11:38 pm

I marched all 4 years(well sort of) and hated it the entire time, I got so sick of it my senior year that I finally plucked up the courage to quit in the spring semester. The thing that was humiliating my freshman and sophomore year was that there weren’t enough big uniforms( I was a size 22, big but not supper huge), and the upper classmen got first dibbs. So I went to all the rehearsals but I didn’t have a uniform, so I was the only one at the games not in a uniform and not on the field. My junior year we got a new director who made sure everyone had a uniform, including me. I’ve never though about it before, but maybe the band director was hoping I’d quit, I wasn’t very good. I later realized my musical talent was more vocal…all those years wasted in band! Be glad you quit when you did!!!


AZHikerChick • December 8, 2006 at 11:10 am

I tried out for color guard in high school. Made it through first week of practice and in the second week I dropped the flag on my head, giving myself a concussion. Needless to say, I didn’t make the squad. Oh well, choir was much more fun and I didn’t have to march around in the Florida heat.


Mymsie • December 9, 2006 at 10:18 pm

It’s funner to say you were a “flautist.” You might even be able to trick some people into believing there is an instrument called a “flaut.”


Suey • December 12, 2006 at 12:14 am

BAND-ATTEN-HUT! I enjoyed being a bando and band camp was definitely hardcore…especially the block run, ugh! But it was all good…I’d lose 10 lbs from a 2-week band camp haha.


Kat • September 17, 2008 at 9:57 pm

Oh marching band…how I love thee. Seriously, I marched for all 4 years in high school and now I’m at university, I’m doing more marching!

I’m sorry your experience was so crappy. I think the most fun I’ve ever had with life has been with marching band. I do agree, however, that the colourguard girls are far too slutty (a lot of them, anyway) in their sports bras and soffee shorts rolled up to be even shorter. Tsk tsk. It doesn’t even get THAT hot where I am!

I play trombone and the worst experience of my marching band career came when I girl’s flag hit my slide (they like to place colourguard right in front of the trombones in formations, which is simply mad). This caused the instrument (and mouthpiece) to jam against my mouth and cut my gums so that they bled.

It was icky and unpleasant, but I can’t help but think of the hours and hours I’ve given to my marching bands with fondness. Same with Suey, I remember losing 15 pounds one season (going from 160 to 145!) Being 6’8″ this was scary for me. I felt much too thin.

Anyway, ramble ramble ramble…that’s all I do!


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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