Lanah Kopplin will be contributing columns to DCI.org each Tuesday. Here's her 10th installment. There's a menace lurking around the drum corps world. Every year, it catches unsuspecting rookies off guard. If vets aren't on their highest alert, it can catch them too. The scene: Spring training, dinnertime.
After four hours of hard visual rehearsal, tired and weary members approach the food truck, searching for nourishment and energy to push them through their last hours of rehearsal. One by one, all cycle through the food line, offering words such as "please" and "thank you" while taking note of the evening's provisions. Smiles begin forming as the aesthetically pleasing aroma of hot turkey, stuffing and gravy wafts to their noses. At this point some of the vets, sagacious after a previous season of drum corps, slowly ingest only a portion of their provided meat, opting instead to fill up on other items, such as salads and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Those less fortunate, however, dig right in, not knowing that they have already been struck by the menace. This menace prides its success in its ability to remain unnoticed until too late. Its best disguise comes in the form of a hot, thick, juicy, delicious slice of turkey. Already a difficulty to refuse, hours of hard rehearsal make this appealing portion of protein even harder to turn down. It is in this moment of weakness that those who have yet to face the menace make their crucial mistake. Soon, all head back to the rehearsal field, satiated and ready for one last push to finish out the day. Rehearsal starts as usual, with all sections converging on to one field to coordinate the day's efforts. Sections of music and drill are run, comments are made, and the corps is reset. Everything seems to be running like clockwork when suddenly, the menace decides to rear its ugly head. And what is this menace? It is none other than the all-powerful tryptophan. This amino acid helps your body to produce the B3-vitamin niacin, which, in turn, helps the body produce serotonin. It is this serotonin, my friends, that acts as a natural sedative, causing those under its influence to become increasingly drowsy! Those who partook in the consumption of turkey are suddenly fighting an overpowering urge to slip off into the realm of dreams. This is not conducive to an effective rehearsal. Instead of battling phasing issues, these poor, unsuspecting victims are instead doing battle against the menace. All will win, but at what cost? What information have these warriors missed in their valiant efforts to remain conscious? It is with everlasting vigilance that we may guard ourselves against the dangers of tryptophan. We must change our alert levels from merely an "elevated risk of tryptophan attack" to a "high risk of tryptophan attack" every time we approach our food truck. Only in this manner may we be properly prepared to respond in the event of future attempts by the menace to infiltrate our rehearsal. You have been warned. This Thursday, however, feel free to eat as much turkey as you'd like, and bask in the glory of your tryptophan-induced afternoon nap. For those of you auditioning this weekend, just remember to avoid any of those turkey leftovers before leaving for camp. And above all else, have a safe and happy Turkey Day! Lanah Kopplin is a third-year euphonium player in the Phantom Regiment, and previously spent a year with the Pioneer. Lanah is a political science major at the University of Wisconsin (she's a Milwaukee native), and will age out in 2005. Past columns by Lanah Kopplin: Rhapsody in the chat room Amazing grace Are you ready? Get out there and vote Reflections from Whitewater Methodical hard work and passion Here's to the behind-the-scenes people Drum corps friendships A new column by the Phantom Regiment's Lanah Kopplin