The Post That Might Have Been

September 21, 2011 § 2 Comments

Hypothetically, let’s say I joined the marching band in high school. You have to understand something—marching band at my former high school is only slightly less of a commitment than joining the Marines. In-season, it involves 10 hours of after-school practice during the week, a performance at the football game, and, more often than not, Saturday practice for around 4 or so hours. Oh, and don’t forget the time you spend going to band class 5 days a week. And competitions. And special events. And then there are those weeks in the middle of the it’s-so-hot-we’re-lucky-we-only-lost-five-kids-to-dehydration-yesterday summer when the band practices for 8 or 12 hours a day.

As appealing as that sounds, I sometimes wonder if I made the right decision. I would like to say yes. But man, during my middle school years I loved playing in the jazz band. We weren’t bad—for 7th and 8th graders. And we were definitely higher on the treble clef—er, totem pole—than the regular band. (In middle school, it’s important to be higher on the totem pole than something.) What if I had carried this through?

Welcome to my first post, “Social Sci-Fi,” version 1.1:

Most of my friends and family have no real opinion about science fiction, much like me. It’s a system that works very well, mostly because I really have no people in my life who like science fiction. In high school, it was hard to meet a lot of people outside band, and most of those people were interested in band things. At Vandy, well—the same applies even though I’m not a Blair student. Marching band practice takes up a lot of time—it’s fun, but it takes up a lot of time. And how many people at Vandy do you know who like science fiction (present company excluded)?

I have a confession: I have never seen an episode of Star Trek even though it’s arguably the best-known sci-fi franchise besides Star Wars—which I have seen, and thoroughly enjoyed. I simply don’t know where to start, especially when it comes to fiction. Sure, I’ve surfed through the channels and landed on the Sci-Fi network before. But something tells me that’s not the same level of sci-fi, that it only becomes serious when you’re holding a book in your hand, reading it in public—a high level of commitment. (It’s almost like you could categorize people who read in public based on their genre of choice.)

I’ll admit—I have heard of Isaac Asimov. And in the 10th grade we read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. But, like I said, I didn’t have time to go much beyond what was required. I still don’t.

I guess that I do have something to say about science fiction—in a way. One time, after church, a friend and I went to my car and got inside. (We’ll call this friend Ronaldo.) Ronaldo and I were going to our favorite after-service Mexican restaurant. Before we could go anywhere, though, I had to start my car. When I did so, the sounds of Vaclav Nelhybel’s “Outer Space” filled the car, causing my friend to ask the rather rude question: “What the heck is this crap?” I switched it off rapidly, said it was some kind of experimental music by this 20th century composer. By then, I had learned that unless you eat, sleep, and breathe music it’s hard to appreciate the standard classical stuff, let alone “Outer Space”—which I would argue is an audible version of science fiction. It could certainly serve as a soundtrack to a screen adaptation. And for some reason I listened to it nonstop back then. It’s still in my rotation now.

But who the heck calls something “crap” on first listen?


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