Una poca de gracia pa mi pa ti!

Although I quit band before I finished high school, I picked it back up in college. (I was a piano performance major, and some sort of ensemble class was a requirement. I couldn’t see myself in the orchestra, so: Marching Mizzou!)

1992! (I think!)

During my sophomore year, Marching Mizzou traveled to Denver to march at a university football game and a Broncos game. I packed up all of my overnight stuff, I packed magazines and books for the bus ride, and I packed a few tiny bottles of alcohol. (Looking back I really have no idea how I did that because I was only 19. Maybe someone gave me a few tiny bottles of alcohol? Maybe I’m making up the part about the alcohol.)

When our bus broke down in Kansas, a friend of mine joked that we should grab our instruments and practice our show in the corn field beyond the smoking bus.

This is a photograph taken at the exact moment when I realized that I had left my instrument in my best friend’s car back at Mizzou.


Because my timing is impeccable, I chose to approach our band director when he was on the phone trying to charter another bus.

Me: Mr. Ruebling?

Mr. R: I’m on the phone, Reiner. What do you need?

Me: Well, I need to tell you that my instrument is back in Columbia and I—

Mr. R: YOU will take care of this. YOU will get a replacement instrument. I don’t want to hear another word about it.

I don’t remember much about the rest of the ride to Colorado. I’m sure I spent it staring out the bus window and trying to figure out how in the hell I was going to conjure up a mellophone, which is a marching French horn in case you are curious. (A French horn’s bell faces the rear. The mellophone twists that bell around to the front so the horn player is now blowing through what looks like a fat trumpet.)

After the university band director in Colorado welcomed us to their school, I approached him and asked if I could borrow a mellophone until the game was over.

Colorado Band Director: You’re really lucky. We typically wouldn’t have an extra, but one of our mello players is out with a foot infection. You can borrow his horn!


(If you know me at all, you know that I don’t want to talk about feet. I especially don’t want to hear the word Foot buddying up with the word Infection. AND, I don’t want to put my mouth on someone else’s horn, much less someone with a Foot Infection, but I was stuck.)

Me: That is awesome. Thank you!

(I won’t bore you with the rest of that day, although I WILL tell you that I celebrated something or other that evening by singing with a Mariachi band as they strolled around a Mexican restaurant. My memory is fuzzy.)

Because our marching show had a Batman theme (of course) and I was good friends with the piccolo player who was portraying Batman in the show, he allowed me to “play” his piccolo at the Broncos game the next day, and although it looked silly to be a lonely piccolo in a line of brass, I was grateful.

Fast forward 26 years to yesterday.

Meredith’s band was scheduled to play God Bless America at the Cardinals’ final home game. We splurged on tickets, we bought Meredith a Cardinals shirt to wear, we packed our bag with snacks, and off we went.

When we were a little over halfway there (20 minutes into our 40 minute drive), Meredith announced that she had left her instrument at home.


We turned around, grabbed the instrument, and hauled ass to the stadium where Meredith and I jumped out of the car and ran to the entrance gate, rushed through security, ran down the ramp into the catacombs below the field, and eventually found the band right before their rehearsal started.

After leaving her with the band, I got lost trying to find my way from the catacombs to the main level. When I eventually located the ramp, I ended up right in front of a whiskey booth. (I know!) I haven’t had any sort of alcoholic beverage in 19 months. I almost broke that streak yesterday.


The band played beautifully. The Cardinals lost, but we were able to sit by friends and the weather was perfect so I have zero complaints.

Biology IS destiny, and Harper will begin playing the clarinet in less than a year. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

8 thoughts on “Una poca de gracia pa mi pa ti!”

  1. I love this story – especially after the post about sleeping and your mom being similar and also having short hair and enjoying the fine craft of knitting. Meredith will shortly shave her head and pick up the needles and become nocturnal and the circle of life…

  2. Hi-lar-i-ous. I’m glad I’m not the only one who forgets critical pieces of musical equipment.

    I’ve always believed biology is destiny, but I started watching Orphan Black so now I am very confused. :/

    Thanks for sharing. Loved the self-portraits.

  3. HS marching band. Competition 2+ hours away. Our biggest rival. Realized upon arrival that my sax was still sitting in the band room back home. My director (who must have loved me) borrowed a horn from said rival band, and my mother (who definitely loved me) raced from one end zone (as THEY exited the field) to the other end zone (where WE were waiting to take the field), to hand me said borrowed horn.

    I honestly thought I was the ONLY person, ever, to do this. Thank you, Puddings, for making me feel Not Alone!

  4. So…what instrument is Meredith playing? Also, I think it is odd that a piano performance major was required to be in an ensemble. I don’t think you actually completed your degree in music (forgive me if I’m wrong). As someone else who started as a music major, but didn’t finish as one, I’m curious as to how you feel about that twenty-something years later?

  5. OH, BAND. Remind me to tell you about the time my boy child’s high school band was competing for the state marching championship and the bell fell off his sousaphone mid-march. And a bunch of people tripped over it. And some of them got hurt. And some of the kids who got hurt were the kids of parents I knew who said VERY BAD THINGS about the tuba player whose bell fell off without realizing they were talking about my kid. Great, now I need to call my therapist.

  6. Funny. Also, my little heart went pitter-pat when I saw your cartoon self wearing a Cure shirt. I still have a massive crush on Robert Smith.

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