I have a band concert this weekend, and I’m a bit nervous about it. I have several friends coming, and I desperately want it to be good and not schlocky. Especially given how much I’ve talked up this particular group of musicians.
But that’s not what this post is about.
I was a teenage Band Fag. Actually, I’m STILL a Band Fag (there’s just more emphasis on the fag portion now). The more acceptable term, of course, would be Band Geek. My high school opted for the politically incorrect version. The assonance created by the short ‘a’ sound gives it a better flow, no?
I think once you play an instrument in a school setting, you can never truly be rid of that Band Geek stench. It just sort of infiltrates your being, and no matter how much you scrub, its always there. And I don’t mean the smell of a sweaty, unwashed polyester uniform.
Last night on Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Bailey (short, black doctor) had a meltdown at the end of the show where she was crying in front of Dr. McDreamy. Her tears stemmed from the fact that she just finished open heart surgery on a guy she used to have a crush on in High School (a guy she used to tutor), and after the surgery he went back to treating her like she was only good for doing her homework.
While sobbing she confessed that even though she was a successful chief resident at a hospital (and had just saved his life), he still didn’t “see” her. She still didn’t exist in his eyes, and never would. She would always be the short, mushroom haircut, cokebottle glasses-wearing, dumpy girl in a High School band uniform that he didn’t invite to the Homecoming Dance.
I got very choked up watching her, because I completely identified with those feelings.
I was a nerdy, pseudo-skinny kid (with a hefty ass) who, because of his buck teeth and myopia was stuck simultaneously with braces and hideously large, metal frame glasses. I also had frumpy, generic clothes and a bowlcut hairstyle that stood up in front and back because of a cowlicks. And I too wore a band uniform.
I was painfully shy up until about grade 10. I tried my best to slip through school being blissfully ignored, which you know is a lost cause when you enter Junior High. The “unfortunates” always become targets. I was made fun of (a lot) for being nerdy, for playing trombone, for my hair… for just about anything really. And of course I was subject to frequent tripping and locker slamming by the jocks (namely the football players).
Twenty-five years later and I still feel like the ugly, nerdy, shy, picked on band geek. Only now I’m “gay” too.
Objectively speaking, I know that I’m not ugly anymore. At least I should know this. I’ve ditched the braces, the bad hair, the bad glasses, and have grown into my body. And I know how to dress and accessorize (i.e. no band uniforms) even if I don’t exercise my ability very often.
And yes, I get lovely compliments from my blog readers (and “non-virtual” others) who say that I’m attractive. And while I appreciate the sentiments, I have trouble believing them. The jaded boy inside me always thinks, “Why are they saying nice things to me? They must want something.”
As for the rest? I’m not very shy anymore (not by a longshot), although it does creep in occasionally at the oddest times. I’m definitely still nerdy, but I’m okay with that. I justify it now as being “intellectual”– which means I’ll kick everyone’s ass at Trivial Pursuit or Scene It.
And yeah, I’m still a “Band Fag”.
And a nerdy guy who continually seeks external validation to prove his intellect to himself.
And a no-longer-shy guy who craves attention now in an effort to make up for the years spent being invisible.
And an ugly kid who desperately wants to hear that he’s ‘attractive’ even though he’ll never truly believe it.
God I hope this band concert goes well on Sunday.