East Chicago Washington High School – January 1985
You all know that every now and then, I’ve got some crazy new category for my stories. Yup, today is one of those days! Seeing as how I have so many fun (and not-so-fun) experiences from my days in high school, college and beyond… …why not share them?
Let’s get to it, shall we? A new series of band blunders I’ll call “Music Notes”. The first entry…
Music Notes: My God! What Have I Done??
If you read my piece about Band Director Larry Lane during Teacher Appreciation Week, you know that I was always #1 on the Most Wanted list whenever he was looking for the guilty party of some chaotic event. But sometimes, I found myself the focus of attention for my GOOD intentions or actions. Like during one of our Marching (“Pep”) Band basketball performances.
With a seating capacity of over 6,000, our gymnasium had two levels of bleachers that ran on all four sides, not including the lower levels at the ends which held the benches for the two teams. Oftentimes, we would just sit back on the lower levels and watch the girls walk around the front of the upper deck. You know, the ones who wanted to be seen.
Midway through the 2nd quarter, several band members and I left the bleachers to grab a bite.
My buddies and I rushed to the concession stand, not only to grab our snacks, but to get a good luck at the girls from the other schools in their boat neck workout tops and double-breasted shirts, with designer jeans, heavy makeup and Jheri curls or big hair (if you haven’t figured out that I’m talking about the 80s by now…).
Usually, when around the ladies, we went into our obnoxious antics in hopes of getting their attention. Always without success. This time was no different. Looking back, I realize just how ridiculous we looked, breaking into rap songs, displaying our hip hop dance moves and talking about each other’s mothers. But that was then.
And then they came…
One, two, three, four, five of the baddest women I had ever seen at a high school game. If I didn’t know better, I’d have sworn they were walking in slow motion. To look at their style of dress, one would have assumed they were huge fans of the 80s R&B group Klymaxx.
The leader positioned herself in the middle, looking forward, oblivious to all as the ones on the sides talked amongst themselves, soaking in the stares from everyone. I guess that’s why I laugh when I see that happen in movies these days. There’s always one who doesn’t speak, just glides.
Normally, I would act a fool at the highest level, not expecting an opportunity to talk to any of them. But this time, I wanted more than just her attention. I wanted her name. I wanted her phone number. I wanted her time. I wanted HER.
Motioning for my friends to calm down, I scarfed down the remainder of my hotdog and turned up my can of pop, using the contents as mouthwash before swallowing it carefully. I had to be cautious because under circumstances like that, I couldn’t afford to run them off in laughter as I crawled around the floor, choking and coughing on my drink.
Finishing off my drink like I was throwing back a shot of whiskey (I don’t drink, so root beer is as hard as it gets), I conjured up the nerve to talk to the leader. I knew it was risky, but I was finally at that point in my high school years where I was tired of wondering “what if?”.
Hey, the worst she could do was politely decline. Right?
“Excuse me, ladies,” I began before directing my attention to the center of the quintet. “I think you are absolutely gorgeous. I’m sure guys ask you for your number all of the time and you’re probably tired of it. My name is Kenny and I was hoping if I gave you my number you might call me sometime. I’d love to get to know you and I promise, I’ll make it worth your time.”
As far as “rapping” to the ladies went, I never thought I was very good, so I figured respect and sincerity was the best approach – something I learned to be true in the coming college days.
“I KNOW you ain’t trying to talk to ME!” she coldly scoffed as her entourage laughed, trading high fives between them.
And you guys wonder why I had such low self-esteem in those days.
Dejected, I gave my best effort to appear unaffected as they walked away, talking amongst themselves about how I had the nerve to speak to someone supposedly out of my league.
I pretended not to notice the other onlookers as “damnnnn, dude” and “that was cold” bounced back and forth throughout the crowd and between my friends. Playing it off, I reverted back to my foolish ways, laughing and joking with my crew as we hurried back to the band in the stands.
I had all but forgotten what happened when our band director Mr. Lane looked at me and asked if I was ready for my song. He had purchased the sheet music to “When Doves Cry” by Prince and told me I could throw a solo in there, replacing Matt “Dr.” Fink’s solo. He had already asked me if I was interested in trying the soprano sax solo intro to Sheila E.’s “Glamorous Life”, so I was fired up, knowing he had such faith in me.
I stepped down from the bleachers to the gym floor, taking front center in front of the crowd. And as he expected, when we played, I gave it my all, performing my impromptu piece during the song’s break. I had to play as loud as I could, not having a microphone to amplify my sound for the crowd circling the gym. I could feel the veins in my neck filling as I tried to burst a blood vessel.
For more about that solo performance, click here to read “The Upper Level: My Greatest Memory Of My Father”.
As the song ended, I could see everyone in the cheering block and audience members within earshot standing, yelling my name and pumping their fists in approval as the applause continued.
It was a wonderful moment and I smiled as Mr. Lane patted me on the back in recognition. I thew my hands in a “W” formation (for “Washington” High aka E.C. “Dub”) before briefly talking to my cousin Darrell (don’t forget to click here to read the story after) and working my way back up to the bleachers to my spot in the stands.
As the basketball team completed warmups and sent their 3rd quarter “starting five” unit to the court, several of my fellow bandmembers called for my attention while motioning upward. I looked up to surprisingly find the “Fabulous Five Fems” that had humiliated me before. They were all leaning against the railing of the upper deck as the leader waved energetically.
Puzzled, I shyly waved in return as she yelled, “I saw you down there, doing your thing! You can play your ass off… …err, umm, KENNY!”
She actually remembered my name!
There was my opportunity. The girl of my dreams was primed and ready and I was not about to miss my chance.
I looked at her and without hesitation, without thinking, fired back, “I KNOWWWW you ain’t tryin’ to talk to ME!”
I looked to my friends for approval and praise, knowing I had gotten my revenge on the girl who had humiliated me earlier. And I was sure they loved it.
Not the case at all.
As she walked away with a stunned look on her face, I noticed entirely different expressions on the faces on my fellow bandmembers and closest friends.
“What the hell is wrong with you, MAN?!?” they hollered in confusion as the realization hit me.
I slowly squatted down to a quiet, seated position while thinking to myself, “My GOD, what have I DONE???”
I said nothing as my buddies continued to rib me as I stared off into the crowd on the opposite side of the gym in disbelief.
The only thing going through my mind was the fact that our team was on fire and would leave the gym that night, with a 4 and 0 record…
…while I would be going home with zero wins…
…and two consecutive losses…
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WOW WOW WOW. Is all I can say.. of course well told. Thank you !
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Thank you, sir/ma’am and thanks for reading!
Hilarious! Just goes to show how men and women think differently. I thought your response was apropos! 😅 ~Sarah
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LOL Most women do! But being a horny young man with zero game, all I saw was a missed opportunity. Yeah, I sold myself out and completely ignored my dignity.
But truth be told, my response to here was not me. If I had it all over to do again, I’d simply say “thank you” and turn back around in my seat. If she wanted to pursue things further, I’d put the effort and chasing back on her.
We learn as we go.
Thanks for reading, Sarah and I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
There are always some moments in our lives which we would want to redo them in a different way, isn’t it? In retrospect, we always make a wiser decision 😁oh my goodness, I have so many such ridiculous moments which I would never want to remember but they never leave you. You have such a tender touch to every story you tell Kenny, I just love it.
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If you remember, I posted a team question in the Supervisor’s stream: At the age of 99, would you rather have your body at its peak with a 99-year-old mind, or the mind at its peak with a 99-year-old body?
Now you know why I always want my mind at its best.
Thanks for reading, Jyotsna!