Band Nerds

In band I played the baritone.

I joined band because the physical therapist said it would help my coordination

if I played a brass instrument.

The director said in front of the class that the baritone would be the right instrument for me.

I never got to choose.

I didn’t believe I could make a sound on the flute or clarinet.


My father taught English.

I had to wait in the classroom after school with the kids in detention.

The band director knew my father.

My dad probably told him about my coordination problems.

If I was less self-conscious,

I’d probably just think, aw, he cared about me.

So nice that people were trying to help me.


Some good things about band:

when my section got the melody on “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”


The worst parts were:

Lips swollen from the puckering, buzzing, and blowing.

And I wasn’t even getting laid.

I can see how could’ve turned it to my favor.

It probably made me better at kissing, fellatio than other girls.

I probably could’ve gotten the stoner guys I stared at

but was too scared to approach to talk to me that way.

And do more than talk.


My father and stepmother were progressive,

would’ve told me about birth control.

I can see myself being too scared to have an abortion.

It’s fun to imagine a different teenage-hood than the one I had.


The guys who beat me up in band –

“Hey, ugly!” they called to me, and laughed when I looked.

probably liked me

I get that now.


I would have been like my college roommate freshman year.

Her nickname was “Team Bitch,” probably the “manager” of her school’s team.


So I found out after high school that band kids are “nerds.”

There’s supposed to be this camaraderie.

They stick up for each other – supposedly – when the jocks pick on them.

Instead it’s really just another case of the cycle of abuse:

Dad hits Mom, Mom hits kids, kids kick the dog.

c. Arlaina Ash 2011


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