When we tell people that we are about to fly to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, we always get a lot of questions. But one of those questions is especially puzzling to me. “Are you doing anything to get ready?”
That reminds me of a story.
In college, I was in the Marching Band. This might surprise some of you who know that I am absolutely the least musical person you’ll ever meet. I can’t sing. I can’t play an instrument. Heck, I can barely play the radio. I bet that I am the only person that you’ll ever meet who failed the required Music Appreciation class in college… twice!
But all my roommates were in the band and they were all in Phi Mu Alpha. They did all these musical type things and sometimes they were kind enough to try to include me. So they told me I ought to sign up to be a band manager and I could travel with the band and tote tubas and that sort of thing and I’d get a band scholarship.
They would even let me put on a band uniform and carry an instrument to fill a space in the formations when they were marching – sort of a band understudy. They called their silent marchers “Kamikazes.” That was sort of pushing it, but I did agree to be a band manager.
Anyway, the Band Director in those days was an older fellow with a dry wit named Kent Sills. Most of the band members hung on his every word because he was gruff but funny and occasionally even wise.
One weekend we were traveling to an away game and Sills came up to us after the halftime show in which the band had marched and he said, “You won’t believe what those old ladies asked me,”
“What?” We asked.
“They said that we’d done a really nice show and that they enjoyed it a lot,” Sills said. “And they asked me if we practiced all that marching around before we got to the game.”
“Really!? What did you say?”
Sills replied, “I told them, no, I just call all the band people together just before the game and tell them to get their suits on and go out there and play a couple of songs and march around and try to spell, GO STATE! and they’re so good they can usually pull it off!”
I think about that story every time someone asks me, “Are you doing anything to get ready to climb Kilimanjaro?”
I am tempted to channel the spirit of Kent Sills and tell them, “No, we figure to just hop on an airplane going that way and when we get there we’ll just walk uphill. No big deal!”