In the Band: A Dying Refrain

69My wife and I attended a couple fundraisers for Parkinson’s a few years ago organized by a fellow high school classmate.  Both times we sat with another couple of classmates who were married.  I knew the wife pretty well.  We went to middle school, mid high, and high school together.  I knew her husband from the football team, but outside of these two events, I didn’t really know him, and I couldn’t have guessed that he would become one of my dearest friends.

There seemed to be something entirely fortuitous about the fact that we sat together those nights.  Football and I began talking about music.  He was a bass player in a band, and I told him I was a tuba player in a symphony orchestra .  When he found out I was a tuba player he said something like,  “Dude!  I have always thought that my band should have a tuba player.”

I was amused by this, but I didn’t think he was serious.

“No seriously, come to our show at the Bluebonnet and see what you think about the music.”

On the off chance that he might be serious, I came.

The Bluebonnet Bar, I came to learn, is the oldest bar in Norman.  It is a smokey 3.2 beer bar that serves $1 PBR, pickled eggs, and Slim Jims.   My new friend was right, the tuba would fit.  Long story short, the lead singer/songwriter invited me to come to the next rehearsal.

I’ve written about my experiences in City Tuba in a Country Band and In the Band

Although the band had many refrains, Don’t call me a Bum I’m a Hobo, But Now that she’s dead I’m drinking in bed I’m drinkin’ I’m drinkin’ again, and I’ll drink the last beer,  my refrain during that time was “I’m in the band”.  I loved to say it, and I said it often.  I was so proud to be in a band.  I wasn’t popular in school.  I never did anything that could be considered “cool”.  Everybody fantasizes about being in one, and my fantasy had come true.  I’m sure people grew tired of hearing about it, but I couldn’t help myself.

But after a year, the band broke up.  There are many reasons a band can break up, and the reason $69 Guitar broke up is not important.  The night it happened is crystal clear in my mind, just as any breakup would be.  We sat on the Football’s back porch and drank our last drinks together as a band.  We took turns playing music on our phones through the Jawbone blue tooth speakers, whatever seemed relevant at the time.  We vowed to find ways to play together in the future, but I knew the truth:  this was it.  We would not likely play together again.

And I knew another truth:  I would not likely play in any band again.  A band rarely needs a tuba player, and I’m not a good enough keyboard player to feel comfortable with most other bands.

So my new refrain became “So, yeah, I used to play in a band.  We broke up, though.”  That wasn’t as good as the previous refrain, but at least I could say I used to be in one.

But now, a year later, it’s a tired refrain.  No new verses.  No one wants to hear about it, and I’m ready to move on.  I will always treasure the experience and the friends that I made.  But at least I can still say, “I play in the orchestra.”  🙂

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