I had a crush on the same girl from kindergarten through 5th grade. In grade two a few of my friends and I would play this game at recess where some of the girls would snatch the hats off our heads (usually after a swift kick to the balls) and run, and we’d try to catch them. I should mention that the sole reason we wore hats outside at recess was so the girls would kick us in the balls and take them off our heads. Why were we into that? Who came up with the idea? Seriously, what the sincere, actual fuck?
Anyway, I always wanted Angie to take my hat, because I liked her, but when she did, I could never catch her, because she was easily the fastest girl in our class. She was probably the fastest person in our class, period. Fuck, could she run. I always wanted to do whatever Angie was doing, because I liked her, and that’s what I thought liking someone was all about. Doing the same things, together, all the time.
So when I found out Angie was gonna play trumpet in 5th grade band, I had no choice but to beg my parents to get me a trumpet. They finally relented, scoring me a used trumpet on payments at a local music store. This was gonna be the answer, I thought…all my Angie-related dreams were about to come true, and it would all begin with me sitting next to her in band practice.
I ended up being accidentally kinda good at the trumpet (or I was better than the other 5th graders, anyway), so I quickly earned the first chair position, which immediately made me nervous. I’ve never wanted to be in charge of anything, and I don’t much care for being looked at, but I accepted my new role with the all grace and aplomb that a 10-year-old boy can exhibit.
For our annual Christmas concert that December, the 5th and 6th grade bands were combined into a Super Band (not its real name), I assume with the purpose of shortening the overall concert time, since there were also choir performances slated for pretty much every grade, and ain’t nobody got time for that. Since the bands were combined, I was seated to the left of the 6th grade first chair trumpet, Jackie.
One of the songs we were performing that night was “Carol of the Bells”, and I was tasked with the heavy responsibility of beginning the song 100% solo. I was nervous, but at the same time, I was as confident as I’ve probably ever been in my life. The time came, the band director indicated that the floor was mine, and I began to blow a perfect rendition. She quickly waved me to a stop, did something with her hands that seemed to indicate that I should be playing louder, and started things up again. I once again played flawlessly, and as loud as I could possibly play, and she once again waved me to a stop, and did the same thing with her hands again.
I was sweating through my clothes at this point, beyond embarrassed, and wanting nothing more than to simply disappear forever. I was just about to start playing a third time, even louder this time (I don’t know if that would even have been possible), when Jackie leaned over to me and said “you’re in the wrong key”. Turns out while I was playing the notes correctly, I was indeed playing in the wrong key, and the band teacher’s hand motions didn’t mean that I should play louder, they meant that I should be playing an octave higher.
Angie quit the trumpet after 6th grade, but my parents wouldn’t let me quit, as they’d paid a small fortune, relatively speaking, to satisfy my schoolboy crush – a crush that by then didn’t even exist anymore. I played on through 7th grade, at basketball games, concerts and the occasional football game, constantly regretting my shortsighted decision to learn how to play the trumpet.
Thankfully, my parents got tired of having to drive me to concerts and games, and upon completion of my 7th grade year, I was allowed to stop playing the trumpet. The cursed instrument went into our attic, where it stayed for the next decade, until I sold it to a former co-worker, and now…
I even had to google “key vs octave”. I still feel a mild twinge of panic when I hear “Carol of the Bells”, though. I’ll never forget that.