by Brooklyn Mario
Scalding Sunday sun . . . the siren-coaxing sound of rehearsing horns and drums heard from a distance of three blocks before you reach the stadium . . . coughing monoxide fumes in the parking lots . . . symbiotically impassive mounted Jersey City police and their horses maneuvering orderliness and direction to wayward busses, cars and people . . . jackets of every color and corps . . . impatiently squirming queues at the ticket windows . . . “Dream contest programs, get your Dream contest programs!” . . . the summer complementary mingled aroma of beer, hot dogs and French fries that assails you from the shadowed food stands . . . your first vision of the green and brown and freshly-painted whiteness of the legendary, elemental field . . . the rush to get to the best seats, only to discover that they are “officially” taken by the flock of black and white-adorned nuns ceremoniously perched there . . . the indigenous, came-with-the-stadium flocks of pigeons that unceremoniously perched everywhere . . . the restlessness during the Star Spangled Banner . . . and . . .
The so-slow-to-come/so-quick-to- end, once-in-a-lifetime, pure joy of competing in your first Dream . . . the inexplicable reason for your uniform colors seeming to be brighter . . . admiring, envious faces of kids in other corps who will never know this experience . . . the PA announcer proclaiming, “On the starting line, from _____, the _____!” . . . applause and cheers from the sun- and smoke-hazed crowd . . . the step-by-step adrenaline intensity that increases with each drum major-egotistical step . . . the first note/ drum beat . . . your leap of faith first step . . . more cheers . . . the last World War/Broadway/ Hollywood color presentation that unseats the audience more by loyalty than habit . . . your concert piece that nearly everyone can sing or dance or clap or foot-tap to . . . the exit number that says goodbye to summer, farewell to love, you know who we are, please don’t forget me, you know how I love you, see you next year . . . the last note . . . the standing ovation . . . the one-more-time, “from _____, the _____!” . . . and then trying futilely to relive the eye-blink performance that ended five minutes ag0.
Last-note waiting EMT volunteers who don’t need to wait that long for a casualty . . . the in-between performances rush to the rest rooms . . . the last-drop-empty cans of Ballantine beer spilling over their corner hidden pails . . . a quick “Hello” here . . . a hurried, “Hey, good to see you!” there . . . “Damn! Wish the *&%$# line would at least move!” . . . “Was that thunder?” . . . a balding, chain-smoking guy at the back of the field who never seems to stop pacing . . . a big guy on crutches at the front of the field who seems to be vigilantly watching him . . . and . . .
The still-in-uniform trek through the stands — “Hey, nice job!” . . . “Good show!” . . . a quick waved “Thanks!” — then to the outfield bleachers to catch a few corps before retreat . . . the names of the once-great, near-great, now-great, that you hear in blaring, public announcements and privileged, personal pronouncements . . . the litany of: Blessed Sacrament, Holy Name, St. Vincent’s, St. Kevin’s, St. Joseph’s, St. Lucy’s, St. Andrew’s, St. Ignatius, St. Patrick’s, St. Mary’s, more Saints, Our Lady of Grace, Our Lady of Loretto . . . semi-secular Knights, Crusaders, Lancers, Musketeers, Cavaliers . . . a Royal Brigade, Royal Airs, Imperials, Princemen . . . ethnical Kilties, Caballeros, Matadors and young Muchachos . . . warring Troopers, Crossmen, Rockets, a Squadron and more Cadets . . . recalcitrant Raiders, Rebels and discrete Diplomats . . . spectacular Sunrisers, devastating Hurricanes and follow the North Star . . . unusual Blue Rocks and whimsical Lamplighters followed by a band of Brewers . . . soaring Skyliners . . . delightful, but dangerous Bon Bons . . . and a Thing.
The capricious August thunderstorm that did/did not appear this year . . . the self-created mark-time-march dirt clouds the corps mystically move through as they assemble for retreat in the dying, humidity-drenched remnants of this nearly-end-of-the-season summer day . . . another “I want to thank . . . we owe so much to . . . if it hadn’t been for . . .” speech . . . the chemically-conditioned Jersey City/Newark Bay sky gaudily flaunting ethereal twilight spectrums . . . a solitary “To the Colors” . . . and . . .
“In fourth place, with a score of___, point___, the_____!” . . . “And in second place, with a score of___, point 886, the _____!” “What?!?! How the hell?” . . . the wait-’til-next-year-if-they-invite-us-back-concealed tear . . . and then a tale of “lasts”: the illusory this-will-last-forever joy . . . the last song before you leave the field . . . the last cheers and applause from the . . . “We-gotta-get-goin’, you-know-how-this-Jersey-traffic-is!” crowd . . . more bus fumes, police and horses . . . damned Jersey drivers! . . . and New York drivers! . . . and Pennsylvania drivers! . . . and “Go back to Illanoyz!”
The silent/noisy bus ride home . . . elation/sadness . . . and “Jeez! We were in The Dream!”