Thursday, February 21, 2013

Facing the Fire Baton

I know that it will shock anyone who knows me now as the confident, sophisticated woman that I am to learn that I was once a shy, awkward little girl. Ha ha! Ahem, allow me to start over...

Okay, I don't think it would shock anyone who really knows me that before I became the semi-confident, introverted woman that I am today, I was a really shy, socially awkward girl. My parents tried various ways to combat my nature and make me more outgoing. Dance lessons at age three were followed by girl scouts, soccer teams, and one spectacularly disastrous season of basketball. The summer that I was 12, my mother had another idea...baton lessons.

Her idea took root when my younger sister's friend's mother decided to sign her daughter up for group baton lessons taught by a former high school majorette. Isn't that how the best plans always start?

Soon enough my sister was signed up for the baton troupe too, and strutting around the house in a rather cute, flouncy skirted uniform. I must have gone with my mother to pick up my little sis from her lesson one night, because somehow the coach got wind of my existence. I suppose from her point of view, I must have seemed a more promising pupil at my advanced middle school age than the seven year olds she was coaching at the time. At any rate, she spoke to my mother and before I knew it, I too was decked out in a slightly used red and white uniform.

I began to join in the weekly practices in the elementary school parking lot. We learned to twirl our batons through our fingers, and hurl them into the air without clonking ourselves on the head. The coach soon convinced my mother that my sister and I could benefit from private lessons. She began showing up in our driveway in her station wagon, ready to teach the two of us the secrets of batoning.

Soon though, it became apparent that Dawn, the coach, was more interested in me than in my sister. I was older. I was roughly the right size for the spare uniform. I had the potential to become, in just a few short years, a high school majorette!

It seems that for some time our local high school had been without any majorettes at all. They had cheerleaders, and a marching band, but as for anyone skilled in the mysterious art of baton twirling...not so much. Obviously the standards for new recruits were pretty high at that point.

Dawn extolled the glories of being a majorette to me. I was already sold on the adorable uniform, so she was preaching to the choir. There I would be, she told me, the star of the show, out on the football field with all eyes on me.

I honestly cannot remember if I had yet heard the word introvert in my short life up to that point. I do know that my mother was prone to talk about how I just needed to 'come out of my shell' and my life would change. And so I bought into what Dawn was saying. I pictured myself out on the sunlit field, the band playing, while the crowd cheered me on. I practiced my spins and twirls, and endured the occasional clonks on the head from the baton...because I had the vision.

Then came the day when Dawn got a little too excited at the thought of filling the majorette position. She told me in a voice breathless with glee about FIRE BATON!

I listened in horror as she described how the ends were lighted (she even showed me the special baton). She showed me the routine that I would do and warned me to expect my eyebrows to be singed off until I got the hang of handling it.

Oddly enough, that's about the time I discovered that I really did not have any interest in pursuing baton lessons anymore. My sister quit not long after that too. I spent my high school years doing activities like Yearbook Committee. Center of attention? No. Eyebrows and lack of major burns? Yes.

That is the story of my short-lived, not quite, stint as a majorette. I don't know if Dawn ever did find anyone to fill the position.

linking to: Mama Kat's Writers Workshop


  1. HAHA! I wouldn't have fired up the batons either! Yearbook sounds so much safer!

  2. Wow, just the baton would have scared me, seeing as how I am extremely clumsy in general (The running joke being that I could trip in the carpet pattern), but fire baton, no way. I probably would have set fire to the school lol

    1. I think it's a very good thing that I was scared off. It might very well have ended in catastrophe!

  3. I remember the poor baton girl at my high school homecoming game. She threw the lit baton into the air and it landed in the bleachers and set them on fire. The game had to be delayed until the fire could be put out.

    1. Oh the poor thing! That would be hard to live down. I'll bet it made for an interesting game though!

  4. Yikes! Fire batons? I see guys out on the street every once in a while during the summer with those. Next time I will have to check out their eyebrows! Count me out for being the baton girl, too! Too many things could go so terribly wrong!

    1. It does sound like a recipe for disaster! I think you need to start out with a real desire to learn it in the first place, I was lacking that.