Sunday, November 15, 2009

This One Time, at Band Camp . . .

There was trouble at band camp.  Ray Flack had gotten himself into a bind, but the rest of us freshmen didn't feel all too sorry for him.  In fact, we thought that he kinda had it coming to him.

Let me tell you why.

One of the universal truths about band camp is that the freshman boys are going to take a sousaphone-load of crap from the upperclassmen.  During rehearsals, the aforementioned crap was limited to innocent tasks like carrying the bass drums for the senior percussionists, being the last ones dismissed for water breaks and lunch, and having to address the seniors as "sir".  This was the natural pecking order of high school hazing rituals, simplified for us freshman as follows:

Seniors haze, juniors help, sophomores laugh, and freshmen, well, receive.  Being forced to schlep equipment and pay the proper respect was one part of it.

The extra-curricular torment was another.

It started the first day, following the afternoon rehearsal.  The seniors, led by Phil Cleary and Andy Gallardo (tuba and bass drum, respectively), burst into our cabin and hauled us out into the woods.  We became the victims of a modern-day tarring and feathering.  Only instead of tar, they had Barbasol shaving cream.  Instead of feathers, they had grass and leaves.

The shaving cream came first.  They lined up all the freshmen and pretty much covered us from head to toe.  Then, once the first coat had congealed, they pelted us with the leaves and grass.

But the fun didn't stop there, oh no.  The upperclassmen weren't content to keep our embarrassment to themselves.  They paraded us through the girls' camp.

Once our walk of shame was complete and the seniors went about their business, we showered up and reconvened in our cabin.  Most of us just wanted to forget about the humiliation and move on.  But not Ray.

"This is bullshit!  They can't do this to us!"

"Um, Ray," said Eddie.  "I don't know if you've been paying attention, but they just did."

"Yeah, well, we gotta get back at them."

"Sure, Ray," I said.  "We'll just go over there and trash their cabin and maybe rough them up a bit.  Let me go get some bass drum mallets and we'll pummel the shit outta those bastards."

Ray bitched and complained a little while longer, and we figured that was the end of it.  But during dinner, Ray got up and started to leave.

"Um, where are you going, Ray?" asked Eddie.

"I'm gonna get even with those assholes.  You coming with me?"


He looked at me.  "What about you?"


"Fine, you pussies.  I'll do it myself."

"Ray, come on.  It's just the initiation thing.  It happens to freshmen every year.  Next time, we'll be on the other side."  Eddie's last shot at reasoning with the guy.

"I'm not just gonna sit and take that crap.  See you guys later."  He left.

After dinner, we headed over to the rec hall to play video games and shoot some pool.  At first it was just the freshmen and sophomores hanging out, but after a while Phil and Andy and the rest of the seniors and juniors showed up.

"Some freshmen just can't deal with the fact that they're freshmen," we overheard someone saying.

"Man, what a dick that guy was."

That sure didn't sound good.  We looked around and came to the obvious conclusion that since Ray was the only freshman not at the rec hall, he must be the dick in question.

"We better go check on him," said Eddie.

We hiked back up to our cabin, where we found Ray blindfolded and duct-taped to a tree.

"Hey, who's there?" he called out.  "Guys, is that you?"

"Jesus, Ray, what happened?" I asked.

"The seniors caught me in their cabin."

"What the hell were you doing in the seniors' cabin?"

"Filling their bunks with shaving cream."

"You filled all their bunks with shaving cream, Ray?"

"Well, no, actually.  They caught me in the middle of the second one, and then they dragged me out here.  Get me down!"

As much as we wanted to leave Ray up there for a while longer (he did ask for this, remember), we peeled off the tape and got him down.  We probably should've thanked Ray for his stupidity because, while we all still had to deal with various initiation rituals for the rest of the week, the seniors saved the worst of it for Ray.  They stole his shoes and put dirt in his shampoo.  They stripped him down to his underwear, wrapped him in a blanket and carried him down to the lake at midnight and then took the blanket away.

It was a long, cold walk back for the poor schmuck.

I'd like to be able to say that Ray learned a valuable lesson from this experience, that he came to the realization that sometimes your station in life requires you to take some shit from those higher up on the social food chain.  But he learned nothing.  Every time he took crap from the seniors, he tried to exact his revenge.  Even after the mile long semi-nude hike back from the lake, he tried to even the score.

He failed every time, and the torment continued.  In fact, the upperclassmen made a special exception for Ray.

The next year at band camp, he was the only sophomore to go through the initiation process all over again.

The rest of us sophomores, enjoying our new place in the pecking order, did exactly what we were supposed to do.

We laughed.

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otin said...

Sometimes You just gotta shut up and take it! I wish that I could learn that lesson!

thinkinfyou said...

Poor Ray! Do you still keep in touch with him,or do they not let him have letters in the Psych ward?

Brndoutw8ress said...

That was too funny! Thank god I'm a girl and we didn't have the hazings and stuff, I didn't have to endure any of that torture! And you're right Ray did indeed deserve all that came to him!

Quirkyloon said...

Ha! Ray deserved it. No pity from me.

And @brndout r u kidding? Girls haze with the greatest weapon ever: emotional torture!

hee hee hee

Maggie said...

I don't feel sorry for Ray at all... Wonder if, sophomore year, he wished he would've kept his mouth shut?

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Rule of the first year of medical residency: shit slides downhill.

Junk Drawer Kathy said...

Shaving cream and leaves doesn't sound so bad. He should have been glad it wasn't, well, something from the latrine. The boy didn't know how to count his blessings.

Curious, what did the girls do for hazing?

Beth said...

Both my boys are in the band and when it was their turn as seniors, I wouldn't let them be mean. But there were quite a few hilarious stories that came from the whole experience.

And there is always a Ray in the mix. Won't they ever learn?

KaLynn said...

Oh gosh! you make me kackle so much!
There's a redhead dancing award at my place for you!
Thanks for sharing the experience!!

not your Uncle Skip said...

Laugh? ...I thought my pants would never dry.

CatLadyLarew said...

It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta be the low man on the totem pole at camp. Silly Ray... some guys just never learn!

Theresa said...

Sounds like you guys had a fun summer. I can hear Cyndi now, "..nerds just wanna have fun!"

Suldog said...

I think you're the only guy on the face of this earth who could make something as geeky as band camp sound totally cool. Hilarious!

Angelia Sims said...

HA! Ray was born missing the genetic gene called learns lessons. He rode the short bus too, right?

Great story! I got a big kick out that.

spokenbythesexes said...

Thanks for the laugh!!! Some people will never learn but I sorta admire his tenacity!!!


MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

Nice post, Knucklehead! I can really related to the horrors of freshman hazing, and all I can say is that I was really disappointed when I learned that Ray failed to pull of a big counterstrike. But I admire him anyway. Like Cool Hand Luke in the movie of the same name, he refused to let the authorities break his spirit, even if it meant paying a steep price. Ray is my new hero. Until the seniors show up, of course. I'm not stupid.

Pearl said...

I not only went to band camp but I was hazed as well (but that was not a band thing, it was a cross-country thing).


Oh, and everyone knows that the trumpet players are evil. And drummers. Trumpet players and drummers.

Me-Me King said...

I was in the orchestra.

Yeah, I know.

Judge Fudge said...

Band camp sounds NOTHING like that great band camp documentary, American Pie, made it out to be.

Jules said...

"the dick in question"
Love it! Band Camp sounds like way more fun than Student Council Camp!!
Thanks for stopping by the hometown paper. I will be sure to let you know if I meet up with George again!

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

Aw, poor Ray, the clueless bastard. I wonder what he's doing today...

Kyle said...

Sounds like the older nerds abused younger nerds at band camp to prepare for the beatings they receive outside band camp. You should thank them.

lime said...

ray needed lessons in stealth revenge and subtlety. yeah, i admit it, i have some ray like tendencies. i'm just not as blatant about it.

oh and as i catch up on older posts the fatman/bald guy formula made me laugh and it reminded me of the day my husband's sports illustrated swimsuit edition arrived in the mail the same day as a lane bryant catalog for me. what a low moment that was.

Moooooog35 said...

Man, if I had a nickel for every time I was covered in shaving cream and taped to a tree...and that's just last weekend.

Perhaps I've said too much.

Peter Varvel said...

Wow. Fortunately, you were a lot nicer to me when I was the new kid in high school marching band.
But only because I was a junior, maybe?

nonamedufus said...

Hey, I'm with Ray. He had guts - and no guts, no glory. The rest of you guys were wusses. Did Ray grow up to run an investment firm or one of the Big 3 automakers?

Candy's daily Dandy said...

You gotta give it to Ray, though.

I'd say he had some serious cojones!!

Anonymous said...

Okay, I guess I'm the only one who thought the seniors were jerks and should have had something done to them. Go Ray!!
I can't believe people think it's funny to torment others, and then say "Take it like a man!" People can go too far, and it's troglodytes like that that need to be sterilized. I would have maced those SOBs if they came near me again.

Eva Gallant said...

I'm so glad you came and commented on my brought me back to yours, and I love it!

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