We pulled into the driveway and waited for Em to knock on the door of Caroline's house. It wasn't too early, she should be up by 10:00 a.m.--maybe she had to set her alarm, it wouldn't surprise me. She was ready and waiting at the door, prepared for yet another band adventure with the Kautz's. Caroline comes out to the car, winter coat on, blanket in hand, and in the other hand a brown shopping bag full of groceries. She looks like a bag lady, when actually she's just prepared for another long day of band competition.
Em and Caroline are our band pallies--going with us to as many competitions as they can handle. They are fair weather fans, as they bail on us on the coldest of nights--preferring to hang out at the house instead of sitting on freezing cold metal bleachers. We miss them on such occasions, as they crack us up almost as much as they cost us in concession stand fodder. Those two are wacky, coming up with funny comments for everything. I draw the line at giggling incessantly in the back seat--it kinda gets on my nerves after a long day. I will miss dragging these two along next year, hopefully they will be on the marching field and we will be cheering them on as well.
A couple of weekends ago, Em and Caroline sat in the breezy sunshine with us at Prospect High School's band competition. They were soon joined by Hannah and Jamie, other friends with siblings on the marching band. The four of them sat further down the row, giggling, and listening to their I-pods like teenage girls do. They seemed to be in a world all their own--completely ignoring us and whoever else wasn't a cute teenage boy.
They are suspiciously quiet and I look over to see Caroline whipping a box of Ritz crackers out of her coat. She's passing the crackers out to the pals, and they are all sitting there, munching away all the while watching the spectacular bands. I'm cracking up that Caroline brings her own munchies, and nobody else seems to think it weird that she actually smuggled in a box of Ritz into the stands. "Hey, Caroline! Did you bring the cheese-in-a-can?" I'm asking her jokingly. "Ahhh. I forgot it!" she answers without missing a beat. So now I'm making this skkwiishhh sound, like the cheese-in-a-can, pantomiming her spraying cheese on a cracker. Girlfriends actually looked like they were at a cocktail party munching on hor d'oeuvres. It was a hoot.
Em starts immitating the dude on the speaker...."Drum Majors, is your band ready?" Then she makes the sskkkwiiishh sound of Caroline spraying cheese-in-a-can, interrupting the silence one and a half seconds before the booming sound of a band starting their performance. We are all laughing. If you have been to a band competition, you know that the silence of the crowd is deafening, and breaking of that silence is frowned upon by band parents galore. It is the major infraction of band competitions, cause for glaring stares and loud "sshhhing". On the scale of infractions--this one is a major offense. I cannot imagine that required silence disturbed by the sound of air-compressed faux cheese being applied to a cracker. So, we are busting at the thought of Caroline's Cheese-in-a-can whooshing and causing a major scene at the contest.
Caroline took all of the ribbing in stride, as she usually does. That's what I love about the kid. She can dish it out, but man, she can take it too. Love her. Never gets mad, no matter how much we tease her. She sat there, smugly smiling that we were all cracking up.
So, now she's climbing into the back seat of the van with all of her U of I supplies. It is going to be a very long day of parades, tailgating, and then the largest competition of the marching band season. We are hunkering down for a long day and Caroline is prepared--bag of snacks a-ready. Of course, we start in on the bag the minute she gets in. She starts pulling out cookies, candy, her I-pod, gloves and crackers. Then, the moment arrives--Caroline whips out..........CHEESE-IN-A-CAN! That's it, I'm done for. I nearly wet my pants laughing. Joe is busting. Em is dying. And there is Caroline all proud over her surprise supplies! It was going to be a good day--all because we had canned cheese. It turns out Caroline made her mom run out to the store the night before to get the cheese. All for a laugh. I love that kid. She makes me laugh every time.
I will miss her and Em next year sitting in the stands with us next year. I was a tad weepy-eyed at U of I this year. Colin is only a junior, thank God, because had he been a senior, I would have been a mess. I was sad because I only have one more year with Col in this. This is the last performance of "Classic Schizophrenia" we will ever see live. And this was the last contest that we would share the stands with Emma and Caroline. It will be Joe and I alone next year--and although it is nice to have the time with Joe, I will miss those two cracking me up. And I'm not sure it can ever be as fun without Caroline and her cheese-in-a-can.