(Part 1 of a two-part odyssey of self-delusion and collegial glory.)
Hold onto your stadium cushions!
My ancient silver King cornet and I will be joining the mighty Eastern Washington University band in a historic journey to support the Eagles as they compete Friday for the national FCS championship in Frisco, Texas, wherever the hell that is.
I couldn’t be prouder than if they renamed circular Pearce Hall the “Doug Silo.”
(Columnist’s Note: This isn’t as completely far-fetched as it might sound. I did serve one term in 1970 as Pearce Hall ninth floor president, after all.)
All I have to do now is remember where I put that fool horn.
I haven’t seen the thing since last month, when I heeded the call to play in a community pickup band for the Eagles semifinal (not to mention subzero) game against Villanova on Eastern’s red Roos Field.
Remember? The game’s late date in December created a player shortage. Most Eastern band members had already departed Cheney for Christmas break.
Actually, locating my cornet is a secondary obstacle.
Patrick Winters, Eastern’s director of bands, told me that following this afternoon’s rehearsal, I’ll need to stick around and be fitted into a band uniform.
Oh. My. Gawd.
I’d rather be waterboarded by Police Guild members.
Just shoehorning my ample frame into my jeans every morning is an undignified spectacle.
But I can’t let a little thing like public humiliation stop me. This is the opportunity of a lifetime.
And it came in a most unexpected way.
Flashback to Tuesday night. I phoned Winters for details on what the Eastern band was doing for Friday’s big game.
My plan was to offer my marginal trumpeting skills to an Eastern fan who, like me, was stuck here having to watch the game on the tube.
In exchange for food and drink, I would regale one lucky household with spirited charges and as much of the EWU “Eagle Fight Song” as I could remember.
It would be like having your own awful pep band.
But a minute into our conversation, Winters popped the following question:
“Do you want to come along?”
Do I want to come along?
Are you kidding?
Did the Big Bopper want to tag along with Buddy Holly?
Scratch that. Bad example.
The point is that I’m not just excited, I’m Lohan-leaves-rehab excited.
Winters explained he had a couple of vacant band seats on the school-chartered plane ride to Texas. For whatever reason, the players can’t make the trip.
And lest anyone point fingers about my lack of musical contribution, hey, I’ll be first to admit that four decades of not practicing is not the road to becoming the next Wynton Marsalis.
But ability isn’t everything.
I see my value to the Eastern band as more as a beloved and bemusing mascot.
You know, like Otto at the Indians ballgames.
Call me Splatto.
Besides, in an even bigger surprise, my editors agreed to pay Eastern the $666 cost of hauling my tonnage to Texas.
Frankly, I was a little worried about the sinister numerical implications when I heard that seat price quoted.
But don’t worry. This is no luxury ride.
We leave 6 a.m. Friday. We return ’round midnight THE SAME DAY!
That schedule is even more hellish than some of the whirlwind band bus tours I used to go on 40 years ago as an Eastern music major.
Next stop: Medical Lake!
No wonder I dropped out of college awhile to sing and play my guitar on the road.
Good thing I kept the ol’ cornet stowed away in a closet. Don’t get the wrong idea. My instrument wasn’t completely ignored.
In fact, every New Year’s Eve when my kids were growing up, I’d haul it out onto the front porch. Then I would entertain them by trying to play “Auld Lang Syne.”
Which would invariably set off the neighborhood mutts on a loud and dissonant cacophony of yapping and howling.
On to Frisco!