Monday, May 31, 2010




: a noisy boisterous band or parade

And the system again reveals itself. I just spent twenty minutes searching through this blog's archives to locate another instance in which the usual randomness of Mirriam-Webster's word choice fell by the wayside. And here we are, on Memorial Day, talking of "boisterous bands" and "parades." I feel as though I'm on the heels of a word-fugitive who occasionally drops clues pointing to his/her trail. On days like today, I show up while the footprint is still fresh, shaking my head, clenching my fists, and exclaiming, "Bhhaa!" I mean, not like a sheep, but like the noise people make when they are foiled yet again.

In Orange, Connecticut, the Memorial Day parade was an event to attend. Not because it was particularly fun, but because there was not really much going on in Orange, and any organized event was something to anticipate. Families set up camp early in the morning on the periphery of the street, equipped with folding chairs, coolers filled with IGA brand soda cans, and shady umbrellas to shield grandparents from the early summer heat. As the parade filed by, spectators nodded their eats to the CALLITHUMP, waved cheap American flags (probably made in China) and photographed girls in short skirts spinning batons. The march proceeded down Orange Center Road for about half a mile, commencing just past the community center and culminating at the cemetery, where some old veterans shot off rifles into the sky.

Actually marching in the parade was somewhat of a right of passage for children—I did it first as a girl scout, and then later as part of the junior high school band. When I was a young girl it was exciting; I relished in the thrill of being noticed, recognized, for anything. But as I got older the excitement was shadowed by mortification. As much as I secretly loved school band, it was hardly cool. The combination of being a teenager, marching down the street in front of my whole town, and sweating in the thick of black jeans and a bright yellow polyester blazer was excruciatingly embarrassing. The main objective was to avoid the horror of stepping in the trail of horse shit left behind by the mounted patrol. The only thing worse than marching in the parade was doing so with a shoe covered in shit.

The one thing I really looked forward to at this event was the ice cream truck. Despite the lack of food served at the parade, there was always an ice cream vendor conveniently parked by the edge of the cemetery. From across the street, one viewed the pleasant juxtaposition of the WWII vets shooting guns and the smiling, colorful faces of anthropomorphized rocket pops painted onto the side of the vehicle.

The snow-cone was my dessert of choice. I liked it because it turned my lips and tongue blue and henceforth drew attention to my mouth—the beginnings of a sexuality I was too young to understand. Treats aside, though, the ice cream truck was sort of a see-and-be-seen kind of thing for children. I always hoped to run into someone I knew and get invited to a Memorial Day barbecue or pool party or something more fun than going home and watching HBO or wading in the two inches of water that filled the plastic container my family called a "pool." This probably happened once. Maybe twice. But even so, every year I stood by that truck, eating my artificially flavored ice, lips blue, waiting for someone, anyone, to want to hang out with me.

And, of course, celebrating those who served for our country.

No comments:

Post a Comment