It is currently 8:30 a.m. and I'll be heading to work in a couple of hours. Once I'm done with that, I'll be able to concentrate completely on drum corps and nothing but for the next five days! What is this weekend, you ask? Well, it is an extended Cadet extravaganza weekend, thank you for asking! I'll be flying up to UMass-Amherst tomorrow to spend some time with a few of my Cadets friends and start my weekend early. We are most likely going to the DCI Classic Countdown at night. We'll probably have to make the trek to Connecticut, but it would be worth it, of course. Maybe we'll have a little ensemble rehearsal later that night. Two snares and three mellophones -- yep, that's what I call a balanced group.

Paula Hyman (left) and Laura Westmoreland
On Friday morning we might drive down to NYC for some lunch or something. Not really sure, but whatever we decide to do will be great fun. Let's start off right where we left off last week. I discussed the importance of fast-food restaurants and convenience stores and the role that they play during the summer. Well, what else is like heaven on earth when you are on tour? Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is a cool store in everyday life, but when you're on tour, it becomes just about the most incredible place ever. What makes it so amazing? Maybe it's because they price their items with weird numbers such as $1.34 as opposed to a boring "normal" store
that chooses numbers like $1.50. Maybe it's because things are usually cheaper than other stores. Maybe
it's because they are usually open 24 hours -- perfect for our schedule. It probably has a little to do with all of those things, but I'm going to go ahead and say the main reason is that Wal-Mart is an enormous store with tons of things to buy, and when you're on tour, you always want to buy things every chance you get, so it's a perfect combination. You might think you only need some shampoo and nail clippers, but then something happens when you walk through the automatic doors. You realize that there is so much more that you must spend money on. You go crazy and start grabbing things off of shelves and throwing them in your cart. Well, maybe you don't do that, but you definitely get excited at all of the shiny things and especially about the food. Wal-Mart has a pretty impressive selection of junk food to choose from. You'll find that most corpsmates make sure to stock up on their favorite food items, which is a good idea since you never know when your next chance to get El Fudge cookies or pizzeria pretzel Combos will be. Unless you're in the front of the crowd on the way in, your chances of getting any suction cup baskets to put on the bus window are slim to none. Those go pretty quickly. Now, there is also lots of opportunity to buy something that you probably don't need on tour. Last year we had a baritone player from England named Adam. Adam thought it would be a great idea to come back to spring training with a pretty nice-sized remote controlled monster truck, named "The Beast." Actually, it was pretty funny. Almost as funny as him yelling "The Beast!" with his English accent, which made it sound more like "Tha Bayst!" or something like that. I don't exactly know what happened to the good old beast, but I'm pretty he died before tour. Which reminds me of another story. Someone might have written a little bit on this in the Cadets webmoirs last summer, but this is the full, detailed version.

It all began almost one year ago during our annual call-a-thon. About 10 Cadets moved in a week early to help raise money for the corps before tour -- and to do a few other tasks involving heat guns and a food truck. The first night, we had some time to get food, so we all trekked across the street to a sub shop, which happened to be next to a pet store. Laura came up with an incredible idea (if by incredible, I mean the worst idea ever) -- buy a lizard, name it Jethro, and bring it on tour. Now, it wasn't huge, but it was still a lizard. I didn't think this was such a good idea. I mean, what is this lizard going to eat? Crickets. Oh, right -- crickets. When she has her mind set on something, there isn't much one can do to change it, so that night, we returned to the YEA! office with a lizard and two boxes of crickets. Now would you be happy if your seat partner told you that in addition to her, you would also be sitting with a lizard and 50 crickets? I don't think there would be a look of joy upon your face. I kept asking her "What if the crickets escape?!" She really didn't have an answer. I guess it would have been OK to her if the bus were taken over by crickets. Maybe the crickets would want to start replacing us, and then we'd be come "The Crickets of Bergen County." People started making bets on how long this lizard would live. Some gave it a week, some said it couldn't survive once we got on tour, yet some thought it would make it all the way to the end -- no wait, that was just Laura thinking that. Anyway, I definitely didn't want a lizard in my seat all summer, so I was hoping that she'd set it free or something. I mean during spring training, we are basically in the forest anyway. I think she would have set him free before we went on tour, but unfortunately, no one would ever know, since Jethro had a little accident beforehand. If you really want to know the details, e-mail me privately –- but let's say Jethro never made it on tour. Man, what a bad note to end on, but I'm going to be late for work. I'll tell you all about camp adventures in next week's article. Until then, take care! Paula Hyman is a fourth-year member of the Cadets where she is the mellophone section leader. She is 20 years old and currently single. Originally from South Florida, Paula recently made the move to Allentown, Pa., to work for YEA!, the umbrella organization of the Cadets, Crossmen and the U.S. Scholastic Band Association. She ages out in 2006.