The school concert incident
When I was in grade 9 I played the cello with the junior orchestra at my school. It was my first (and only? I may have played in grade 10 as well, can’t recall) year playing the instrument and I quite enjoyed it. I think I ultimately gave it up for two reasons. One, I didn’t want to learn music theory at the time, I just wanted to play. Two, I had to take the city bus to and from school and lugging a cello home was just not conducive to this kind of travel.
Anyway, towards the end of grade 9 we had a music concert of some kind. It was held in the evening and was for parents and friends to come and watch us do our thing. I think we probably played two or three pieces at most. In case you are not familiar with the orchestral set up, each section of instruments has a “first chair”, a leader of that group as it were. I think most people are familiar with the violin first chair position, who can also be called the concertmaster (this is the person who helps all of the musicians tune their instruments right before a performance). Well all of the other sections also have a leader. Well maybe not all but most… I am not 100% sure about this. Irregardless, the point I would like to make is that although the first violin chair is pretty prestigious even at a high school level, the other lead positions seem to be fairly trivial during a high school evening concert. That is just my take on it though.
So on this fateful night, we were given the cue and filed into the auditorium to take our seats and begin the performance. I guess just the way we were lined up in the hallway forced me to sit in the “first chair” position of the cello section. We based our seating during the concert on the seating we had in the classroom, which was the seating we chose ourselves. I don’t recall our teacher ever designating first chairs. Well let me tell you, this girl, Amanda, who normally sat in the first chair cello position was not happy. She started whispering that I needed to move and would not sit down. Our music teacher eventually had to tell her to stop talking, grab a seat, and get ready to perform. I knew she was mad but I didn’t really think about it much until the following day.
She lived close to my house and I would often see her on the bus on my way home. It just so happened that the day after the concert her and her boyfriend were both on the bus. When they exited the bus a few stops before mine, the boyfriend (who had of course heard all about the first chair “fiasco”) thought it would be the gentlemanly thing to do to start yelling insults at me as the bus drove away. The whole bus heard, but luckily I don’t think they actually knew at whom he was directing his remarks.
Sure, I was embarrassed, but more than that I was angry! This was not a big deal! It was one stupid high school concert. And how dare she get her boyfriend to fight her battles?! I got home and was so worked up thinking about all of the possible things I would say to her the next day at school. I would come up with the ultimate insult and make sure to say it during music class and really loud so that everyone heard!
…my mom talked me out of it and I eventually calmed down. I resigned to dirty looks and cold shoulders for the rest of the year. The most frustrating thing about that experience though was that I could not actually come up with a really good insult. I had a few about her not being able to confront me herself and how it was awesome that she had her boyfriend yell at me from outside a moving bus, but it was pretty weak sauce all around.
I don’t even remember if she stayed at my first high school the full 4 years I was there, or if I ever had to interact with her ever again. I guess in retrospect I get why it was a big deal for her. And more importantly, also in retrospect, I get that teenagers are a wild and moody lot so I probably should not have taken anything that transpired personally.
However, for my wild and moody teenage audience, please watch the below in case you ever get writer’s block as far as insults are concerned… I was not fortunate enough to have YouTube at my disposal back then. Use this gift wisely.
Warning: there is a lot of swearing in this.