I’ve written about my five years in the Golden Band from Tiger Land twice before. Two years ago I wrote about my last game and how hard that night was for me; yesterday I wrote about a tradition the trombones have had dating back 15 years where we eat Oreos before every game.
The long and short of my Tiger Band experience is that it was the best five years of my life and the people I met there are some of the closest friends I’ve ever made. I miss TGBFTL dearly and especially so this time of year.
But on this day 10 years ago was the darkest moment of my Tiger Band career...
...folks on September 1, 2012, the season opening game against North Texas, my hat fell off my head during pregame.
Let’s set the stage a little here. I’m a sophomore in 2012 and was a freshman during the ill-fated 2011 National Championship run. I was on the field for the SEC Championship, the Saints-Lions 2011 Wild Card game, and 1/9/12. What I’m saying is, I’ve got some previous experience when the lights shined the brightest so, in theory, opening up Tiger Stadium for the 2012 season shouldn’t have been that big of a deal.
And while I’ve got some skins on the wall, there’s a whole freshman class beneath me who have yet to play those iconic first four notes. And where I lined up at for pregame I ended up next to three freshmen so I’m being a good upperclassmen and giving them some advice because marching pregame in front of 92,000 people can be intimidating as s h i t.
I’ll let you in on a little Tiger Band secret: when we flip the LSU from the west side of Tiger Stadium to the east and we do the whole T-I-G-E-R-S up/down spell out...thing (no that’s not the technical term, what gave it away?) the trombones aren’t actually playing. We’ve got slides and the slide makes the hat situation precarious at best. What we’ll do is take our right hand, the hand that’s holding the slide, and hold our hats instead.
I think you can piece together what happens next. If you’re a true sicko wanting to laugh at my pain, you’ll find that disaster strikes at the 8:29 mark of the video.
Remember how I said we keep our right hand on our hats? Well my hands got crisscrossed and in the split second I was trying to fix it...yeah. Down goes my hat.
Now if you’re watching the clip first of all how dare you. Second, you’ll notice that it looks like I freeze for about two whole seconds. Reader that’s because I did freeze! See during band camp we go over just about everything: parading down victory hill, horn moves, down cheers, songs, all that. But what we don’t go over is what to do if your hat falls off during pregame.
By this point in time I had been in marching band for six years. I’ve done dozens and dozens of shows throughout high school and freshman year of Tiger Band. And before this day, September 1, 2012, my hat had never fallen off my head. So yeah I’m panicking for about two seconds and I swear my first thought was “...do I just leave it?”
But I’m in the bottom of the S in the LSU meaning I’m right in front of Roy King, a great man!, and I just knew if he saw me do the rest of pregame without a hat on I’d get the “SON WHERE ARE YOU FROM????” to end all son where are you froms. Thankfully either Roy didn’t notice (likely) or didn’t care (also likely!) because I never caught any grief from him afterward.
H O W E V E R
I told this story to my seventh graders I was teaching four years ago, I showed them the video and everything. And they roasted me fiercely for it. One girl even wrote up like a fuckin haiku or some shit and they declared September 1 “Mr. Junda Drops His Hat Day.” It was very hurtful, I would not recommend telling 12-year-olds about the darkest day of your life because they’ll be very mean about it.
Hopefully you all won’t be equally mean about this. Oh who am I kidding...it’s the Internet of course you will.
Laugh at my pain, sickos.