Marimbas Up Moore Mountain

A marimba, the weight of which cannot be undervalued.

I’m a proud Band Mom. My Bubs plays percussion, like, all the time, not just in band class proper. It’s become his adorable…ahem…habit to tap on things, slug things, snap, click, cluck, all sorts of weird twittering noises I can’t define, in order to get a feel for resonance.
He’s a rhythmic soul, a melody-based being in search of the ultimate groove, man…in my Band Mom mind.
In the normal “Mom” role, all the tapping and clapping and drum-sticking drives me nuts. I take lots and lots of deep breaths in order to find my Karmic center, blah blah blah.
I’m trying to be Hip, as people said in the 1900’s.
Along came marching season, a thing that 2020 disallowed, so I had no idea what it really meant. Summed up: hours and hours of watching two hundred kids dressed in polyester bib overalls stand around waiting for Go TIme…the playing, and the musical portion of the pageantry that IS Band Season!
More specifically, I watch 13 bibbed percussionists unload heavy equipment and push it around a track to land somewhere near the 50 yard line, play five minutes and fifteen seconds, then reverse order and move heavy things BACK to the trailer, seemingly acres and acres away.
As a Good Band Mom, I want to help. It’s in the DNA script, the Maternity Gene.
Last week, “we” played in Moore, the heart of the City, where giant high schools large enough to host 14 tractor/trailer rigs, buses, a few U-Hauls, and one thousand parents for an entire day — 17 hours — of good clean musical fun under a sweltering sun, immoderate ninety degree ambient temperature, and whining, all on my part.
Note to self: still need to buy new shoes; the old ones cratered in the Moore HS parking lot.
But earning my Mom o’ the Year badge meant helping my sweet innocent tiny six-foot-three baby and his friends — mostly girls, mostly petite — with lugging mammoth bits of wood and steel up and down the sideline of the football field.
So after the performance — the definitive contest winner, if you ask me — I rushed down like an ant smelling sugar cane, grabbed onto the end of one of the marimba sets, and said to its player, “Lead the way!”
She kindly asked, “Would you like to steer and I’ll push?”
To which I gallantly responded, “No, no, young lass whom I could crush with my overloaded handbag — side note: want a Gatorade? they’re very heavy — much less my middle-aged girth, you shall guide while I shall push this beast, as I know not where to lead its nose!” (I think I’d put my hands on my hips and looked toward the moon for best effect; she seemed underwhelmed.)
She shrugged.
I should have taken heed of that shrug; ignoring her knowledge of the way the land lay would be my downfall, as this was her third trip around the majestic plains between goal post and bus and I had meandered toward a snack bar a few times and accrued far less mileage than she had that day.
We set off! A band of merry marimba-ists, end-to-end like elephants on a glorious star-filled night, nine-thirty-ish and still the awards ceremony to view. I was optimistic and naive.
M’lady guided us off the field, I fought the turf, a substrate far less forgiving than say, grass. Who knew? I was learning as I went. And huffing a lot.
“Tuff turf,” I joked, a reference to not only the field but my progressive age and an old movie, one she had not watched apparently, and in reflection, not a big loss on her part, though Spader…yummy.
I was winded, a tiny bit, I’ll admit, in that beginning flat stretch, but the ground, she hated me and my marimba wheels, so we tussled until we reached pavement, no big deal.
But at the base of a tiny driveway outside the field, my leader made a right turn onto the quickest rise ever known to marimba movers. I really thought I was going to go high center and my arms shouted, “We’re done.”
Still I pushed on, into the mountainous regions not mapped in any Oklahoma atlas, I assure you. Past a pond, past losers who’d crapped out and couldn’t make the rise. (…not really. No one flagged but me, and only in my mind. Really, I was a sport; I rallied.)
Even as the band student asked, “Are you okay? Should we trade places?” and as blood flowed strong through my ear canals, blocking her gentle hint that we should indeed trade places, I wondered about the next day’s headlines in the local paper: Band Parent Made Immobile While Moving Marimba.
Oh, the embarrassment for my Bubs. Couldn’t have that. I soldiered on and at last — at last! — the hills rolled into a gentle flat plain and once again I could breathe fully and not as though through a straw.
Once the wheels had stopped turning and tunnel vision abated, I heard the band member, the marimba-ist, the one I’d followed to my near-extinction, say, “Would you like your Gatorade back?”
I don’t speak of that night often, and no, I didn’t take the precious girl’s Gatorade. I had three more in my bag.