The next day, Joan's hanging out in the band room when the teacher arrives and asks if he can help her. She wants to sign up. He wants to know what she plays. Joan says, "I play percussion...ism...ist." Man, the teachers in this school must be about ready to start a twelve-step recovery group: Joan Girardi Anonymous. The teacher, slightly distracted, thinks that's excellent: "We need someone on drums. You will pound the skins, driving the beat into our piece, like the drummers of old, who called the warriors into battle, with their fierce, pounding rhythms." He's not as emphatic as Lischak, but he's just as loopy. He's a young, mild-mannered, sweater-vest-wearing type. Joan laughs nervously: "Okay. Um...do you have the...hitting things?" The teacher is inexplicably unfazed by her lack of familiarity with the terminology, and hands her some drumsticks. He tells the students, who've been arriving and warming up, that they have three weeks until Marchapalooza. Is that a real shebangamathon (tm someone on my site), or is that a made-up thing? I should probably just warn you all now that I have no experience with band -- zero, zilch -- so the annoying errors and inconsistencies that bugged many of you self-described band geeks in this storyline pretty much washed right over me. I did marvel that she was allowed to start without an audition.
He asks, "Are we going to rock?" There's weak murmuring from the class. He repeats the question, obtaining a slightly more enthusiastic but still incredibly limp response. Pathetic Hat Girl is sitting in front of Joan, by the way, playing the French horn (I think -- I'm a little vague on brass instruments). I thought she had sort of a Molly Ringwaldish vibe about her, without the buck teeth and annoying tics, but someone on the forums pointed out it was more a combination of Ringwald and Clea Duvall. Anyway, her name's Alice. As the teacher says, "Okay, let's take a crack at the new one. I think this has the Herkies spirit you'll all be down for," Alice hands Joan a piece of music: Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk." Joan whispers, "Fleetwood Mac?" Alice: "No, not when he gets through with it." Joan smiles and puts the music on her stand. Upside-down. Alice notices and rights the page. Come on, Joan's not a complete moron -- I think she'd know which way is up for a piece of sheet music. As Alice turns the sheet around, Joan's eyes widen, realizing once again how far in she's over her head. She thanks Alice. The band starts playing. Joan plays badly, and out of sync, but with some gusto. Not that anyone else is that much better. If I hadn't been told this was supposed to be "Tusk," I honestly wouldn't have had a clue. The band teacher takes note of her crappiness and stops everyone, asking, "Is there an echo in here?" She apologizes and says, "I'm warming up." The band teacher suggests they try it again: "Together." Before anyone can start playing, Joan hits the edge of the drum and breaks the stick, sending it flying toward the chalkboard. Joan's pretty surprised. The teacher says, "Percussion...that was commendably fierce but rhythmically challenged. Take a moment to listen to the horns...find a beat -- any beat -- and, uh, no flying debris. That's easy." Joan nods. The band starts playing. Joan shakes her broken drumstick angrily heavenward.