Johnny and the Wolf
Johnny and the Wolf posing for the camera on the Band Trip to Winchester, Virginia

We all gathered in the auditorium where Mr. Panoff wanted to talk to us the band as a whole. Jessica and I sat with our father who was coming as a chaperone, as he always did for Jessica’s big band trips. He went over the rules and expectations that we were all supposed to adhear to, as we were representating Tallwood High School in the last Band Competition of the season, and Jessica’s absolute last outing in the Marching Band.

When Mr. Panoff got to the rules of opposite gender visitation, Jessica giggled, There are a few people every year who wishes Mr. Panoff would forget to mention that.

Well, we are rooming together, I said, not understanding.

It is different because you are my brother, and — most importantly — Daddy is rooming with us so we will be in a Chaperone Room, Jessica explained.

Our father said, All I ask is that you two keep the door open when I am out doing Chapterone duties.

Not a problem Daddy. Just to make it fair for everyone else, Jessica said.

It was time to get on the bus, and there was a loud cheer when Mr. Panoff called for Seniority Rules. I will save you a seat, Jessica whispered, offering me a hug before filing onto the charter bus.

Finally, it was time for Freshman to board the bus. As promised, Jessica saved me a seat next to her. I like your hugs, I whispered, as she allowed me to snuggle up with her.

It is a long ride to Winchester. Want to listen to music together, Jessica asked as she pulled out her CD player.

Did you bring snacks, I asked as I accepted one of the headphones from my sister.

I did, She said, reaching into her backpack and pulling out one of smaller candy bars. Something small to hold you for now. You don’t need too much sugar, She said as she showed me her CD collection of classic rock. We both picked out something that we could agree to.

We eventually arrived at the hotel, and Jessica had the Pit line up near our father who started passing out room assignments and keys when Mr. Panoff returned from the hotel front desk. Our father said, You two keep the door open when I am not there. You two should get in partial uniforms then meet me at the Pit truck.

Jessica unlocked the room and led me in. You and me will share one bed and Daddy will have the other bed, She said placing her bags on one of the beds, We can take turns changing in the bathroom. Soon, we were both changed, and we met with Dad and the rest of Pit Crew at the Pit Truck. How is the grand marimba, Jessica asked, concerned for Mr. Panoff’s baby that was beautifully restored over the Summer.

Mr. Owens, one of the other chaperones, said, Mr. Panoff’s baby is safe and sound.

This is my last time ever playing in the Marching Band, Jessica whispered as the evening was starting to dawn on her. This was her very last chance to be before marching judges. She was nervous and excited, much more than I was. She was trembling as she took my hand and said, I can’t believe this is it for me. I need a moment. Please, hold my hand and give me a second.

I held my sister’s hand like she asked, and in a moment she shook the emotions out of her head. You ok Jess, I asked.

I am. I just needed a moment to collect my thoughts, She whispered, gently kissing me on the cheek.

We soon made our way back to the charter bus, and like before Jessica and I sat together as we made our way down to the high school. This time, she snuggled with me and it felt nice to be hugged. It was not a long ride to the high school, but I still felt cooped up from the long ride from Virginia Beach from the get-go. We eventually arrived at the high school, and Jessica had to help me up since my leg fell asleep.

We should meet Daddy at the Pit Truck, She said as we stepped off the bus, Shake your leg awake, and then we can go. She called to everyone, Pit, this way please! We need to get instruments off the truck. She then took my hand to make sure we didn’t separated as we made our way to the Pit Truck. Dad and the rest of the crew were waiting for us.

Warm ups everyone, Jessica said once instruments were unloaded. She then led us through ten minutes of eights, and we did a quick practice run of one of the songs. We did not have much time, and I was amazed at how well I was able to commit the entire show to memory (somthing that I thought would be impossible when I first started Marching Band back in August). We repeated Eights a few times, and Kenny pointed to his watch. Yeah, it’s time. Places everyone. Time to march onto the field, Jessica said, nervous and excited because this was her last ever marching band performance.

We gave it all we got, and after what felt like an all too brief time, we started exiting the field, as the last competing high school of the night (sorted by school name, and class size). As was tradition, the hosting high school took the field last and performed, but would not be scored in the competition. While the hosting school was performing, judges were gathered together to tally up the scores from the different high schools throughout the day.

It was finally time for the awards to be given out. Several cheers went up as the different schools were given awards for the different categories, and we were no different. We ended up taking home a few awards and trophies. Jessica started having an emotional breakdown when we were announced as the Best Pit of the entire night. I pulled her into a hug and asked, You ok?

Best pit, Was all my sister could say as tears of joy flowed from her eyes. I allowed her to hold me as tightly as she needed to for the moment that she needed to collect her thoughts cand she whispered, Thank you for a great night.

Jessica corralled the Pit back to the charter bus, and I was not prepared for just how loud everyone would be. We were all in a celebratory mood. I wanted to join in, but being new to the game meant that I was not sure how to join in. Jessica had her arm around me and asked, Are you hungry or anything?

Too noisy, I said, as I tried to reposition my sister’s hand to cover my ear. We finally got to the hotel and I asked Jess, Could we go straight to the room?

We need to check in with Dad first. Then sure we can go to the room. Just remember to keep the door open unless Dad is with us. Yes I am your sister but others will think it is unfair so I’m saying that regular boy/girl rules apply and the hotel door and window blinds need to stay open. When Daddy is with us it will be different since Daddy is a chaperone, Jessica explained.