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Brigid on TV (and Rod)

He waited anxiously, nervously fidgeting with the slide of his trombone. Mr. Watson, whom everyone called “Sarge” from his years as a bandleader in the Army, waited impatiently as Jamal fiddled with the A-V equipment. It was first period practice in the crowded rehearsal room. They had just gone through their usual warm-up tune, “Captains and Kings”. Now they were snorting with anticipation. Except for him. And Brigid in the clarinet section, sitting between Debra and Virginia, in her usual jean jacket, white turtleneck, black jeans and Doc Martens. She was easy to pick out because she was one of only five white kids in the whole band. She bit her lip and was as nervous as he was. Finally -- the big screen lit up blue. The screen was ripped here and there. T--- High School might be known locally for its marching band but this was not a school district with a lot of money. Some out-of-synch blurry images and now the genial, grandmotherly face of Melba McCann, the anchor of the local news show. “And now, we have with us guests from the famous T--- High School marching band, who will be performing at this Saturday’s regional title football game between their school and Brookline High School.” Her first words sounded like she was talking underwater but then Jamal’s hand slammed down on something in the control room and the sound cleared up. “Here we have -- ” The camera panned over to the three guests, Sarge in his business suit with the black tie, Brigid in her majorette uniform, her baton laid primly across her bare thighs, and he himself in his braided wool uniform, holding his trombone in “rest” position in front of him. Watching the screen, he cringed as he saw the beads of sweat on his forehead. It wasn’t just nervousness -- it had been hot in that studio. Sarge had insisted on getting there half an hour early. Already burdened with his trombone case, he had needed Brigid’s help in hefting his big uniform bag out of the car and through the many hallways before finally getting to the dressing rooms. Brigid went in front of him, holding up the boots end of the bag, her baton slung over her shoulder. At the end of the baton dangled her own uniform bag, a tiny pouch like a beanbag. Then it had taken him forever to struggle into his uniform in that tiny cubicle, what with the cummerbund, the epaulettes, the big boots. Finally he emerged into what they called the green room, where guests were made up before walking onto the set. Brigid was there sitting up on a high stool, already dressed, while the gay-looking guy powdered her with makeup. He supposed that a white person would look like a ghost on TV without some cosmetic help. Especially Brigid, whose Irish skin was very white, with a smattering of freckles across her bare shoulders. She smiled at him as she said, “I’m getting the royal treatment.” The makeup man had a lot of skin to cover, what with her entire uniform consisting of two little circlets covering her nipples, and that tiny triangle over her pubic area held on with silvery strings that went low around her hips and the other string that disappeared between her butt cheeks. Below, her bare feet rested on the bottom rung, the flip-flop style majorette sandals on the floor. He got the trombone out of his case and sat and watched, having nothing else to do. Brigid’s circlets seemed to have gotten smaller. The uniforms had just come back from their twice-yearly cleaning. Maybe the majorette uniform was subtly altered before it came back. He thought about the photos in the glass case, and wondered about the shrinkage in the majorette uniform over the years, how it was done, how past majorettes dealt with it. Around about 1970, for example, how did the majorette for that year find out that her short skirt and blouse had morphed into a leotard? How did the 1990 majorette deal with a short short that had become a bikini-style bottom? Or the 1999 majorette who found that the strings on her top had disappeared and she now had to wear circlets? Those first circlets were huge compared to the ones Brigid had to wear. Her breasts were round and firm, maybe a bit bigger than average; and around her circlets all her breast slopes, top, bottom, and sides, were in full view. He wasn’t about to do math calculations but the circlets covered maybe 15% of Brigid’s total breast area. He thought of the big plastic eyeball model in the science room, the area formed by the iris and pupil. About that much. He saw the makeup man do his work, puffing the powder between Brigid’s breasts. He had seen boobs bounce before, of course, but always in tank tops or bikini tops. Brigid’s breasts, not strapped to her body or to each other, moved independently, one wobbling a bit while the other was still, sometimes bobbing the same way, sometimes toward each other, one moving in a tight little circle while the other lurched left to right... The makeup guy bent down and Brigid parted her knees as he got that area around her uniform where she had shaved her pubic hair. The triangle bottom seemed to have gotten smaller too, more like a narrow “V” now. She looked down with a neutral expression as the guy powdered industriously. “Spread a little more, please.” Sarge came in. “We’re on in five minutes. How’s it going?” The two band members smiled and nodded. Now Brigid spread her toes as the guy powdered them. Pretty toes. She had carefully painted the nails in the black-and-white school colors. Cummerbund and epaulettes and braided jacket and high boots were part of his uniform; toenail paint was part of hers. He put on his white gloves and looked at them. Even one of his gloves provided more coverage than Brigid’s entire uniform. Then he remembered getting suddenly nervous as Melba McCann came in to get them, and Brigid picked up her baton and followed Sarge into the big room with all the cameras surrounding the set, and he followed Brigid... Sarge sat down in one of Melba’s guest chairs and chatted with her quietly while a commercial was being shown. Rod and Brigid, waiting by the big camera setup, looked at each other. Rod was so enchanted with this shy Irish white girl that he choked up whenever he wanted to speak. Finally he croaked out, “How do I look?” He stood up straight as Brigid, holding her baton in her armpit, adjusted his jacket and tugged at his epaulettes. “Great. How about me?” She held up her arms and her breasts stuck out. “Are my ‘T’’s straight?” Rod was open-mouthed, unsure of what she meant, looking down finally at her ribs and the hollow tummy below. “Your -- ” “My ‘T’s!” He swallowed and felt flushed as he realized she meant the “T” school logo on each of her circlets. He bent down a bit so that Brigid’s breasts were at his eye level. “Fine. Both straight.” “Good. Oh no!” Brigid opened her mouth and out came a retainer. “This’ll show! I forgot entirely!” She frantically looked around for a place to put it. He heroically took it and held it in his gloved hand. “It’s safe with me.” “Oh thanks, you’re a dear,” she said. He felt his heart skip a beat. Then Sarge motioned for them to sit down next to him, and the camera guy counted down... Now, in the band room, watching with everyone else, he sat through Melba McCann’s introduction and then smiled as Sarge fell over his words in describing the marching band, at first saying it was founded in 1527 instead of 1927. Sarge, sitting on his conductor’s stool, covered his face in good-natured embarrassment. Melba then said, “We have here also Brigid O’Dierna, the band’s majorette, and Rod Sykes, first trombonist. You’re part of a proud tradition. How do you like marching with the band?” Looking at the big screen, the band saw Brigid and Rod smile at each other shyly. Brigid giggled nervously, her breasts bouncing with her laugh, then jiggling for a second after her body had stilled. He said something to the effect of, “It’s a great band and it’s great marching with your friends.” Brigid said, “We all work together.” Not memorable words, exactly, but what the heck, they were petrified. “The forecast for Saturday is cold and drizzly,” Melba said. “In your majorette outfit,” she said, looking up and down at Brigid, “how do you stay warm on days like Saturday?” “You keep moving,” Brigid said. Her stock response. And now in the band room there was a general shifting of chairs with anticipation as Melba McIntyre announced Rod and Brigid were going to do a tune. His friends in the trombone section smiled at him but he was not nervous because he knew what was coming. The two band members on TV stood up, him with the trombone up to his lips, her with the baton tucked under her arm. Then she nodded and he launched into a verse of “American Patrol” which was flawless. Watching in the band room, he smiled. He had been so afraid he was going to botch it but he hadn’t. Good tone throughout, not one note flubbed -- while successfully hiding Brigid’s retainer carefully in his slide hand. Meanwhile Brigid twirled. She couldn’t do any throws in Melba’s little studio but she did everything else, spinning, fanning, switching arms, down through the legs, even that special trick she did where the baton seemed to crawl back over her shoulders on its way from one hand to the other. She spun around, leading with one breast and timing it so that the other breast followed. A performance as flawless as his. At the last note he and Brigid froze, as planned. He was sweating in his wool uniform. She was not immune to the studio heat, either. As she posed, her breasts coming to rest, a trickle of sweat was visible that had started below her neck, rivered between her breasts and down her flat tummy, and delta-ed at her navel. Melba and Sarge clapped, then it went to a commercial and the clip ended. Jamal turned off the screen light. Everyone in the band room applauded. “Stand up and take a bow, well done,” Sarge said. He stood up in his sweatshirt and long jaMs. Brigid stood up in her jean jacket and turtleneck and black jeans. Local stars! “One fine performance deserves another,” Sarge said. “Time for a big tune. Let’s do ‘March Grandioso’!”

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