As a practical matter, this meant two things. One was that I’d get my picture printed real big in the year book, and saying “Band King.” Yahoo.
The other was that I could have a free band jacket.
The fanciest and most coveted school jackets would have the school colors (black and gold, which really came out black and orange) with sleeves of real leather. This kind of jacket was absolutably de rigeur, a must-have.
I had a different idea. As usual, it caused trouble.
I was thinking ahead, about leaving for college next year. I didn’t think my high-school jacket with real leather sleeves would actually be that spiffy. It would be, like retro, man.
So when Mr. Raeke, the band leader, sat me down with the catalog, I ordered my jacket with a plain grey flannel body. He peered over the catalog.
“Not black and gold?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
Then he asked me what kind of sleeves. Again I chose plain grey flannel material. He raised his eyebrows but said nothing.
Then he asked me what color for the High-School Letter. I requested no High-School Letter. He smiled and wrote up the order. Now I had a nice stylish grey jacket coming. A nice, free jacket. I was happy.
The next day, he told me he’d sent off the order. “I had to fight,” he said. “The principal thought you ought to have a letter.” He smiled again. I was happy, too.
All that week, I heard indirect muttering. So-and-so at the school board had heard, and he thought it was outrageous. I didn’t care.
Some weeks later my nice, free, stylish grey jacket came.
I liked it. I liked it a lot.