Today was Sharpsburg’s annual Memorial Day parade (one of the original such parades in the country, don’tcha know). It was a bright, gorgeous day, with a cool breeze that took some of the sting out of the sun.
No Lou Scally this year, unfortunately. The keynote speaker/grand marshal this year was a recently returned veteran of the Iraq war. Scally was nowhere around — I’m certain, because if he’d been here, he no doubt would have been mobbed by autograph seekers. The poor guy. How does he get his grocery shopping done? I mean, he must; he’s obviously been eating from somewhere.
The parade itself was pretty good. I’m not much for parades. Until Ashley and I moved here and started watching the annual Memorial Day procession (this was our fourth), I found them boring wastes of time. The past few years, I’ve found little ways to amuse myself, making the parade tolerable, even enjoyable sometimes. For instance, it’s always fun to watch the majorettes march past and root for them to drop their batons. There’s always at least one who fucks up and drops one, but this year it was a veritable horn-of-plenty of botched catches. I was on the brink of actual sympathy.
The twirlers pass by in sections, grouped according to age, with the oldest and most experienced first, and the younger ones following. Eventually you get to the girls who don’t toss the baton at all, they just sort of strut around and move it from one hand to the other. The progression from old to young goes on for so long that by the end it’s a bit ridiculous, with a small company of toddlers bringing up the rear. There were two women walking along with the little ones, coaxing them ahead, keeping them on-course. They couldn’t have been older than about three, probably don’t even come up to my knee; the mile or so from the start of the parade to the end must have seemed like the goddamn Bataan Death March to them.
I also find it a little creepy how the girls in the twirling corps are dressed, all tight spandex and short little skirts, kicking their legs and turning cartwheels. We blame Britney Spears for turning little girls into sluts, but this sort of thing is acceptable? Who’s the real deviant, though — the parents, for pushing the kids into it (don’t tell me it was the three-year-old’s idea), or people like me, who notice the skimpy outfits and automatically jump to a perverted conclusion?
Well, it was actually Ashley who brought it up today, so technically she would be the pervert. I’m off the hook.
It wasn’t just on an ironic level that I enjoyed the parade, I found this year. Some of it I really, sincerely dug. The bagpipes, for instance, get me every time. My favorite part was when the Union Army re-enactors walked by us, led by the fife and drum corps. They were playing “Minstrel Boy,” one of the most beautiful songs ever written. If that doesn’t do it for you, I don’t know what else to tell you.