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freezing majorette

He was in the front row as always, as the band stood in formation, well behind the beginning of the route, waiting for the local police guy to signal to march. The band was only at half strength on this trip. Despite the big carnival some distance ahead of them, they felt alone. They didn’t feel the usual big rush just before marching. Ahead of them was a space of maybe two hundred feet, then the beginning of the route, where the float before them had paused. Up further, near the slope of the next mountain, past the strings of overhead lights and the crowds cheering the passing floats, he could see the end of the route, and the reviewing stand where Sarge was, with all the other guys in top hats and a slightly out-of-season Santa. It did look like about three hundred yards, like Sarge said. About ten minutes’ march at regular speed.

But from here, it seemed a million miles away. They seemed alone in the bluish moonlit snow of this remote tundra. Like they were about to march on the planet Pluto.

To his right, the other trombones, Sid and Lorenzo and Deion, all suffered from a bad case of Frozen Face just like he was, grateful at least for the flaps from the big shako caps that kept their ears warm. The parts of their bodies not covered by the thermals were feeling the cold too. His hands were stiff and cold in their gloves. And it seemed he could never find socks thick enough. Even with two pairs and these big boots, his toes were cold and he kept on stamping his feet to keep the blood going, albeit with little steps so that he looked like he was still in formation.

He blew through his trombone yet again. It really did seem like his spit had frozen, he could feel the ice crystals. What was the purpose of a marching band in this cold? They seemed totally out of place. The wind bit his nose again and he twitched it, trying to get some feeling back.

Now he contemplated the rear of the blue-skinned naked girl in front of him. No, not really blue; that was just the dull hue of this unearthly scene, a reflection of the snow. But the bare toes in the flip-flops, flat on the crusty snow, the bare legs and butt, the bare back, the thin but strong arms and the delicate bare shoulders -- how totally out of place. It was so unfair. They were freezing in their thermals and cover-all uniforms, but the poor majorette had to stand there in the frigid wind with almost no covering at all. Such exquisite nakedness should be soaking up the rays on a tropical beach. Maybe that’s what she was fantasizing about. Or maybe thinking of Tommy Blackwell and how this march would help the Disabled Learning Center.

Of course she was not really naked. But in the dull blue light the V of the clear strings curving into her butt was totally invisible. And from the back one couldn’t see the main parts of her uniform, the little T in her pussy lips, and the T’s perched on her areolas. He missed the riot of White Girl Skin Colors that was Brigid on a brisk day. the blotches of red on her shoulders, the purplish fingers and toes, that cute patch of pink over her sacral dimples, the blushes of red at the ends of her butt cheeks. Tonight she was just blue and naked and motionless, facing the zero-degree wind chill without outward expression. Like she was not really Brigid but some alien woman, from a race of blue people living on an even colder planet than Pluto, who had decided the only way to deal with this “hot” Plutonian weather was to go naked.

He supposed it was not so bad for Brigid, just a temporary chill, then a quick ten-minute march. Colder by some degrees, but not really that much worse than what she had gotten used to as a majorette during that cold, rainy football season. There was a little station at the end of the route, past the reviewing stand, where she could duck in and warm up. After they finished he would gallantly run back to the cafeteria room and get her coat and boots, what she wore on the bus ride up from the motel. After that she could hang out and enjoy the party like the rest, covered up except for her bare legs showing below the knee.

That float just didn’t want to start. It was a styrofoam- looking display of little ski slopes with three women in ski suits who were supposed to be elves or something, perched on them. At first he thought they were just pausing, letting everyone take in the sight before continuing, but bundled-up men were now lumbering around, speaking to each other through their ski masks, and he could see something was wrong. The band stood and waited. And froze. His butt cheeks were so cold they were starting to tingle.

His butt, that is, covered with thermals and jockey shorts and the long braided trousers. Brigid’s butt had no such protection. He looked at it, motionless in front of him, like a double blue moon, and try as he might he just could not make out the plastic V-strings that he knew were there.

Another minute went by. “Come on,” Sid said quietly, impatiently, “I’m half frozen.”

“Jesus, it’s cold,” Deion chimed in.

“No weather for black people!” said Lorenzo, who had the darkest skin of all of them.

“I can’t feel my toes,” Sid said.

Rod saw Brigid turn her head slightly and could see the exhale of her breath in the glint of the faraway lights. Great plumes of condensation, as if she were in a deep freezer.

“Christ, you know nothing about cold, guys!” Debra said from behind them in the clarinet section.

“Yeah,” said Millie, one of the saxophones, and the only other white kid to make this trip. “Our majorette’s freezin’ her bare buns off up there!”

Brigid turned to them halfway and he thought he saw her smile. Then she shivered all over. No longer a trans-Plutonian woman, once again a normal human adolescent, shivering in the bitter cold in a tiny majorette outfit. Poor Brigid!

A moment later, Brigid allowed herself to say, “Oh Jesus!” and shook herself all over. Her baton discreetly changed hands. And now, in a bold move, she raised one foot out of its flip-flop and wiggled her toes in an attempt to get some circulation back. It was forbidden, it was a little obscene, it was erotic, sexy, seeing her bare foot, her bare toes, in this frigid air, inches above the bed of crusty snow. After carefully parking the still- stiff foot back into the flip-flop, she did the same with the other foot.

It was very unusual for Brigid to complain about the cold. He could remember only one other time -- that second game in September. They were waiting in the stands to come down for the halftime show. It had clouded over and suddenly gotten chilly. And now a wind kicked up that he could feel right through his uniform. He was standing next to Brigid and saw goose bumps raise up and down her arms, on her butt, and on her thighs. “Oh brother!” she said, then shook all over as if trying to shake the chill off. Cold as it was that day, I bet she wishes it could be that temperature now!

That stupid float up ahead still wouldn’t start. And now a bad sign. A little truck came out from behind that big snow- making machine, and ropes. The bundled-up men were forced to take off their gloves as they began to tie the ropes to the float to pull it. This would hold up things even more.

Now Brigid started seriously shivering. “Ohh... God... P - p - please...”

A couple of men walked up near them, on the way to the parade, not aware that the band was there. They were talking loudly and sipping coffees. “Crikey,” one said. “I’m glad we have this coffee.”

“Good thing these gloves are insulated!” the other said.

“These boots are great,” the first one said, lifting one of his gigantic, bulky moon boots. “I’m nice and snug. I’m almost downright hot!”

Brigid brought her foot up again and wiggled her toes. The men walked away toward the carnival, never having noticed the band. She shivered again, miserably. It was most noticeable in her blue shoulders. Her bare butt cheeks trembled.

Rod felt flushed with anger, making his frozen face a little less frozen. This is an outrage! A wintry night is no place for a nearly naked majorette. At least give her several layers of body stockings! Give her the covering the rest of her band enjoys! Let her march in a regular full uniform and boots! He applied the logic procedure from a recent math class. She probably couldn’t twirl in the full band uniform, and body stockings would look ridiculous. So therefore: you cannot have baton twirling in this cold. You simply can’t. He wished he could do something, at least say something.

Finally! The little truck started pulling the broken-down float and now there was the signal from that police guy, using one of those airport flashlight extensions, to start marching. And now Brigid stiffly strutted into motion, giving the band four beats. Her breasts bounced with her motions. Even her breasts seemed stiff in this cold. Everyone blew silently into their instruments to warm them up as the drum guard did the roll-off. Then they launched into “National Emblem”, doing the familiar “monkey wrapped his tail around the flagpole” leadoff without any flubs, and on the on-beat, took their first step forward.

As they came into the lit route he could feel his circulation going again. He could also sense the crowd coming alive, doubly attentive after that stalled float. Some were even clapping, not very audible because everyone was wearing gloves -- everyone except Brigid, of course.

The Tunemasters passed under the first string of lights, held up by poles on each side. Then another string. The lights played off Brigid’s back and butt, off her legs. It was sexy but also beautiful. Everyone was enjoying the light show taking place on the majorette’s body.

The snow crunched under his boots. An odd sensation. Brigid must feel it even more through the thin soles of her treaded flip-flops. She moved a little less stiffly and he could see her body flush with the cold. Good. It showed she was warming up. Now she started her first twirl, and as she turned around to catch it he saw the T’s on her breasts jiggle and shift, in time with the tune, in time with the step, in time with catching the baton as it came down. The T’s were dancing on her nipples. It looked like the majorette’s breasts were leading the band. These T’s were a good idea, they gave a whole new dimension to her twirling and to the whole presentation of the band.

They passed a setup of cameras. Back in the cafeteria room, on the overhead TV, Gus Guy and Pierre Poquette enthused about the visiting band to an audience of several custodians. “And here comes the Tunemasters, from T--- High School in Roxbury Mass. One of the best high school marching bands in New England. Winner of last summer’s Regional Competition in Atlanta, Georgia.”

“That is one brave majorette, in this temperature.”

“Yes, her name is... it says here on the band list, ‘Brigid O’Dierna, sophomore’. I’m told her uniform is designed to allow for maximum flexibility in twiring that baton.”

“And she certainly is expert at it! Look at that throw! That must be thirty feet, at least!”

Brigid turned around again and Rod once again fell in love with the brave, flashing smile. She winked at him and he crinkled his eyes, his best substitute for a smile as he tooted away. The band sounded good too.

They approached another string of lights and Brigid tossed the baton over it and caught it as she passed on the other side. This brought some cheers. She raised her arms and pirouetted, showing off her lithe biceps and meticulously shaved armpits. Some snow dusted up on her toes. She spread her toes and expertly flicked the snow off with her next step.

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