There are a couple of rites of passage connected with starting the new drum corps year. The first is that you will, without fail, manage to put your foot in your mouth within two hours of entering the rehearsal site. I have perfected this art to the point where it usually only takes me about 15 minutes to get it accomplished -- if it's inevitable, you might as well get it over with, I say. And based on the similar principle of once being enough, I'm going to choose not to embarrass myself all over again by repeating those stories -- although I'm sure that should you contact my corpsmates, they'd be happy to tell them for me!
The second rite of passage is that you will experience some sort of car trouble: On the way to camp, trying to leave camp, as a result of going to the camp, etc. I managed to evade this rule for my first three tries at corps, likely because I was traveling fairly short distances, but this evasion came at a price, and it was on that first long drive home from Glassmen camp in 2003 that I finally got my comeuppance. After you've put in a full weekend at a drum corps camp -- especially an audition camp, which are particularly exhausting because of the newness of it all -- the drive home seems interminable, and Knoxville to G-West was a solid eight-hour haul on a good night. On that night we stopped in Lexington to meet up with some friends that had been at the Phantom camp, so I set off on the last leg through the southern Kentucky hills already exhausted and behind schedule. The friends we met up with had a radar detector in their car, so I let them take the lead and we were zooming along at about 85 miles per hour, enjoying empty highway -- no one else being stupid enough to be on the road at 3 in the morning the Monday after Thanksgiving! We were just north of the Corbin, Ky., exit when all of a sudden a police car's decals reflected in our headlights. Busted! The cop had been sitting with no power going right at the beginning of a construction zone -- a classic speed trap that resulted in both cars receiving hefty speeding tickets, despite the fact that there were no construction workers out. It was my first-ever speeding ticket and the adrenaline left over from all the flashing lights was more than enough to get me through the rest of the drive. Worse even than getting a speeding ticket is when your car breaks down on the way home from camp. The Glassmen timpianist in 2003, another Knoxville boy, discovered this firsthand when he took his belongings out to his car following the December 2003 camp (just one month after my speeding ticket) and found himself with a flat tire. After extensive consultation of the owner's manual and some help from the rest of the Knoxville contingent (about five of us at that time), we managed to get the spare tire on. Unfortunately it was a "donut," only designed to last about 50 miles at no more than 40 miles per hour, and of course at 6 p.m. on a Sunday in late December, no auto repair shop was open to patch his deflated tire. He ended up spending the night in a hotel less than 100 miles away from G-West which was, as fate would have it, right next door to a Michelin Tires dealer. The God of Drum Corps Car Trouble is mischievous deity, but always a merciful one. Emily Tannert is a sophomore music education/percussion performance major at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La., and holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University. Emily aged out of the Glassmen in 2003 and was assistant tour manager for the corps in 2004 and 2005. You can contact Emily at email@example.com.