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"My grandfather always said that living is like licking honey off a thorn."
--Louis Adamic

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      "Heh heh heh! Yes, kids, it's me, Count Floyd! Oh, today we have a tale for you that will chill you! It'll chill your chilblains, it's so chilling! The only way to calm down after hearing it will be to Netflix and Chilblains! The story's called--what? That's what 'Netflix and Chill' means?! Whoa, no wonder my great aunt stopped returning my calls. But our tale for today, whoo, is called 'IT STARTED WITH A LEAKY SINK"! Whoa, doesn't that make your goosebumps afraid of the dark, I bet! It has more twists and turns than...a pretzel! Okay, Count Floyd's a little out of practice, I'll work on that metaphor."
      (off screen voice) "Floyd, we're not doing that today."
      "WHAT? You know you still have to pay me for this gig! Leaky Sink, jeez, how could that even be interesting? So we're doing...'Sixteen is a Lot of Sousaphones'?! The hell? I'm out of here! And you still have to pay me! I'm leaving the very second my included Continental Breakfast arrives!"

      "I need to ask you for a really big favor!" said my sister Patty (the cool sister). "OF COURSE!" I said, thinking of all she's done for me in the 6 weeks since the Leaky Sink Incident. (EDITOR: Needs context; maybe just shorten it to something catchy, like..."Sinkcident," yeah) She said "Can you let our dog Maisie out to poop Saturday?" I'm like all "...Sure!" because I would've done anything for her since the Sinkcident. I would've agreed to "There's kind of this dead mobster in our basement? Can you dig a shallow roadside grave for us?" "SURE, SIS! Should I pee on it too?"
      This conversation took place at Panera. It was my first time in Panera! Unfortunately, it was apparently also the first time in Panera for the kid who took my order. I ordered a flatbread, and this was "CHICKEN PAN" according to the receipt. The top slice of bread was over 2 inches thick, the bottom slice--well, bottom slab, was about 6 inches. Some vague paste was on the inside. I basically had to unhinge my lower jaw like I was a cottonmouth snake to take a bite. Patty said "This is wrong" and went to order a replacement. The supervisor said to the kid "I don't even know how you did this!" He did it because you left the new guy alone and wandered off while he was struggling.
      Maisie is a big yellow mutt with a heart as golden as her fur. Luckily, Patty had cut my hair 3 days earlier, so Maisie recognized me. This was my 2nd haircut in 25 years. I look so k. d. lang-y now. I noticed some signs saying "BAND THING" on the way. Later, I heard some band things going on. Since I live a short walk from the high school, I went to see what the Band Thing was. My first sight was 25+ school busses and the UConn marching band rehearsing. I felt a little weird, as I was this old loner watching some 20 year old cheerleader doing some amazing baton work, and literally no one else in the world was witnessing it besides her. I walked to the main field, and It turned out to be "The 27th Annual Festival of Bands," although "Band Things" would've been funnier. I passed a group of teens dressed like The Last Jedi and HOLY FUCK don't tell me I missed that routine! I found a big and abandoned program, and found out that I was there for the next to last show, Rockville High's "Alice's Adventures." Thumbs up to whatever teen did the logo. It was a teacup, but if you looked closely, the Cheshire Cat was peeking out. It was based on "Moby Dick" haha, no it wasn't. I didn't find the program until after it was over, and they could've been doing a Youtube on how the Moon landings were faked (because the MOON is a fake! It's a hollow ball made by time-travelling Freemasons, and oh god how I wish that wasn't something people really believe). I think I was the only person there who wasn't either a band parent or a member of a band not performing. The main thing I noticed was a girl flipping some flag baton and dropping it. I thought "You'll forget this in a few years--high school is hell." After that ended, I heard some other band person say as Rockville marched off the field "Did you see she was crying? The twirler? She was crying." and I felt awful for her. Maybe today she's ruefully laughing about it. Maybe in 20 years she'll be crying at 3AM about it. Fucking high school, the gift that keeps on giving. Giving you misery for decades.
      Then UConn took the field. I guess that they're the Goal for marching bands. There were a lot of them. Fucking wars have been won with battles that involved as many people. They had 16 Sousaphones (which is a lot of Sousaphones), the same amount of trombones, and 6 marimbas. you fit ONE marimba in a car? There was less equipment shipped on fucking D-Day! They did "Lady Gaga, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Random of Tantrum!" according to the announcer, although I may have got the last one wrong. I guess I finally heard "Old Town Road"? Marching band music sounds the same to me. (At Oberlin College, the "band" was a bunch of ironic art students. At my suggestion, my roomie played the toy machine gun. Their first number: "And now, the National Anthem! Of Indonesia." [terrible cacophonous version of the Indonesian anthem, and yes I saw the sheet music and they were playing that] "And now--'Teenage Lobotomy' by the Ramones!" [exactly the same terrible cacophonous version of the Indonesian anthem]) The UConn Cheerleader Woman flipped 3 batons at once! Which, you know, super cool but a terrible survival skill.
      I'll say this: it sure looks like high school bands have each others' backs. They cheered the other bands as heartily as they did their own. When they handed out the awards, their color guards (?? Is that what they're called? If only one of my 15 readers knew!) either stood at attention, or did wonderful little choreographed dances. The Star Wars group--3 Reys, a Finn, and a Kylo--stood still except for a Rey raising her lightsaber in defiance. Manchester High, you fucking rock!
      The program I absconded with is professionally done, except when it totally isn't. They left in the squiggly underlines you see in autocorrect! But it does list the shows I didn't see. So, here they are! You SO care!
      The Blackstone-Millville Regional High School Chargers Marching Band did "TAKE A BITE," pictured as a withered black tree with a giant apple. "When Temptation is too much, you have to TAKE A BITE" I have no idea what that means. I also thought "Blackstone? The only town called that is...Oh. It's right outside Uxbridge, where Jess lives. A fucking HOUR from here. That's a long way to drag your marimbas!"
      The Mark T. Sheehan High School Marching Titans of Wallingford (also an hour away) presented "The Pursuit of Happiness." A clipart of the Statue of Liberty, text "Over the years, people have left their homelands In Search of a New life. Many passed through Ellis Island chasing the dream of life, liberty, and freedom. In their pursuit of happiness, they found A new Beginning." I may be projecting here, but I sense a middle finger to Our Favorite President...
      Enfield High School Marching Eagles, which I guess are like regular eagles but too lazy to fly because of all the cow farts (ELLINGTON CONNECTICUT JOKE! I don't care if you didn't get it! Oh wait, it's Enfield, not Ellington. VICIOUS ENFIELD DRUG WAR JOKE!! "In Enfield, everyone's barefoot because their sneakers are all on phone lines, HAW!" I don't care if you didn't get that either) have "BABA: A Musical Journey" and they did Baba O'Riley (by the Who), The Hut of Baba Yaga (by Mussorgsky), Thula Baba, a traditional African hymn, and Baba Yetu, by you got me. The picture is of Baba Yaga's chicken-legged hut, and something that looks like if Hiroshima was A-bombed by a giant squid. I admit to being a bit put off by the "Baba" theme, as the Band Thing was only 2 days off from the anniversary of Baba Yar, one of the most horrific atrocities in history. While the SS killed 33,000 Jews, even the Nazis realized how inhumane it was--to not give the SS a break from slaughter. Have a coffee and a cigarette, guys! YOU'VE EARNED IT
      The Berlin High School Redcoat Marching Band, whose logo is a guy with a dark maroon coat and a saxophone and running on one leg wtf Berlin? Is this a visual representation of how no one outside of CT knows how to pronounce your town's name? (It's not ber-LIN, it's BERL-in) Their program is Finding Home, including such hits as Coming Home, A House is Not a Home, Home, and Baby Shark doot doot.
      The Ellington High School Farting Cows (HA! I got you anyway, Ellington!) is West Side Story. "Just play it cool, boy...Real cool." Yeah, keep it cool, Ellington. Don't step in no cow pies, boy boy crazy boy.
      Song from Ellington's West Side Story: "DI-A-RHHEA! I just stepped in some Cow diarhhea!" Hahaha, fuck you.
      Manchester High School Fuck Yeah Marching Band: "THE FORCE AWAKENS." And I didn't get to see it! Rey's Theme, March of the Resistance, the Jedi Steps. And I missed it! If it was done by Ellington, the Jedi would've stepped in cow flop!
      The Robert E. Fitch Senior High School Falcon Marching Band that Uses All the Words in the Dictionary in their Name: "Spark of Invention." It has a quote from Edison, "I'm going to light up the world!" which sounds like something Thanos would yell as he exploded your planet. Includes Bach and a song from Willy Wonka. No, really.
      New Britain Golden Hurricanes HAHAHA You named your band after something every teenage boy would scream at you after learning what "Golden Showers" means? Program: "Clara's Dream." With a drawing of Clara, whose expression indicates someone just explained what "golden hurricane" might mean.
      East Haven High School Co-op Marchi--what? Co-op? What does that mean? Do you have to take turns milking the cows NO THAT'S ELLINGTON HAHA! Logo looks like someone ate the bat-signal and then puked it. "IN ASHES ENDING" wow, maybe not let the Emo kid design this. Program: Inferno. Dies Irae. Skyfall. Vesuvius. Don't let the Emo kid do this, Co-op.
      Rockville High School Marching Ram Band. Alice's Adventures in High School Twirler Depression.
      And now--UCONN! The only part of Connecticut you've ever heard of! A full page of "EXHIBITION DIRECTOR DAVID MILLS" in a spotlight, and the most murdery-looking Husky ever. Opposite page "MUSIC" in a dripping blood font. Somebody at UConn sure liebs Leni Riefenstahl!!
      And now it's boring. Several pages of the local group, all of them photographed looking directly into the sun. Clint Eastwood: "Man, these kids are squinty. I think I'll go yell at an empty chair now." (What, too soon?) Several pages of "paid by my parents" pics that are gonna be sooo cringey when Mom & Pop show them to your college crush. Direct quote: "Keep rocking that piccolo!"
      Ads! Yes, Ron A Roll, which began circa 1977 as a roller disco rink, but it still exists. "INJURED? Then it's time to call Kerry! Slip and Fall, Dog Bites." Prescient: An ad for band members by a hearing care center, because in 30 years, you're going to wish you weren't so close to those damn marimbas. "GO BAND!" in comic sans and autocorrect underlines for candidate Claire Janowski! Out-of-cntext pictures of girls holding pics of a rabbit, a faceless grin, a caterpillar--oh I got it. Alice's Adventures! A bunch of truly out-of-context "fill in the rest of the book" pics, like these 2 boys in different Green Day shirts, and one looks like he's trying to do "ERR MAH GERD" An ad for driver's education! Followed by an ad for the Ladd-Turkington & Carmon Funeral Home! ("CREMATION") The SECOND ad for "Drive in Package Store"! because liquor and teens go together like driving school and cremation! Bolton Vet, where a certain deaf boy with extra toes came from!


      "Well, that's over with! Now it's time for--THE TALE OF THE LEAKY SINK!"
      "Floyd, we've run out of time."
      "GOD DA--okay. Sure. YOU--are going to a place much warmer! MUCH warmer, My Friend!"
      "Floyd, don't foreshadow."


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