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spoiled child

  “H - hold s - still,” the Tunemasters majorette says, trying not to sound condescending.  Her shaking fingers straighten the top of little Ricky Fuentes’s thermals, which is sticking out unevenly over the high collar of his many-buttoned uniform jacket.  Brigid is bending over him, her baton clutched between her bare, goose-pimpled thighs.  Her orange-sized breasts, clad only in silver-dollar-sized “circlets” attached to her nipples, wobble in Ricky's face.  Not that he notices; everyone is used to seeing them on display, even on snowy days like today.

        It is one of Brigid’s many duties to make sure everyone’s uniform is on straight.  The rest of her band is so heavily clothed they sometimes don’t notice when something is askew.  Ninth graders like Ricky need special attention.  Thermals are an ongoing problem; the majorette, of course, cannot wear them, but they are the source of many complaints and she has become an expert on fixing folds and kinks on a moment’s notice.

        “S - stay still!” Brigid repeats, like a mother.  Ricky’s jacket is tight and various parts of Brigid bounce as she tugs the collar to one side.

        Ricky is a little spoiled and always feels he is being put upon by circumstance.  He reaches up to brush a fallen snowflake from his cheek, accidentally flicking Brigid about an inch below her left circlet.  “I don’t like these thermals!  They’re scratchy -- and hot!”

        “T - talk to your m - mother about that.”  The collar finally fixed, Ricky scampers back to his place in line and gets his alto sax back from his classmate Jim Joyner.  Brigid grabs her baton and shakes herself all over.  Her body is almost purple by now.  She brushes the white flakes off her red, pinned-up hair.

        They’ve been waiting here behind the fence for fifteen minutes.  Thirty seconds left on the clock is when they assemble for the halftime show.  Roxbury is leading Brookline 25 to 7, thanks to Jermaine’s on-target passes to LaShawn.  They were watching the clock count down when with 18 seconds left a Brookline player got injured and paramedics took over.  It didn’t look that serious -- maybe a broken finger -- but it’s been taking forever to resume play.  Once the band gets on the field, Brigid can do her moves and get her blood moving again.  People often wonder how majorettes can go out in the cold while being so scantily dressed.  “It’s okay because we move around so much,” is the standard answer.  “We’re getting quite a workout out there!”  But being forced to stand around is . . . not easy.

        Finally the referee’s whistle!  Play resumes.  Jermaine runs a couple of plays into the line to kill the clock.  Now the halftime show.

        It is early December and despite the snow it’s a big crowd, parents and friends and neighbors.  The team has won every game except one and is surely headed for the regionals.  It might be a broken-down old school but their football team is exceptional.  So are the Tunemasters, who perform with a sense of triumph.  The tunes are buoyant.  The crowd claps along with gusto, people taking off their gloves so as to clap louder.  Brigid, leading the band, knows exactly how many steps to get to the 50-yard line, how many times to step in place so that the trombones behind her can turn, how many beats to count down so that everybody is in formation before she starts twirling.  She does her impossibly high throws, after exactly three turns catching the baton with a smile as it falls from the stratosphere.  Her breasts, tight with the cold, swing tightly around the axis of her body.  Her steps are high too, reddened toes clutching the sparkly backless flip flops.  It is actually good that it is so cold today, with frosty ground.  Any warmer would mean mud, a lot harder to perform on.  One time back in October it was so gluey that she discarded her flops and performed barefoot.

        Mr. Watson (“Sarge”, who used to lead an Army band) watches with pride from behind the fence, in his business suit, overcoat, gloves and furry hat.  He is the best at what he does.  Not only does his band march well in formation, they sound good.  He trains them and then gets out of the way.  Brigid is his second-in-command and out on the field she is the one in charge.  “Best majorette I ever had,” he told Principal McPherson recently.  They were in the band room, contemplating the uniforms, hung up along the wall, all but one in big, full-length bags.  Brigid’s hanger looked almost empty, with little paper clips holding just the circlets, the flip flops, and the stringy thong bottom that looks no more substantial than a shoelace.

        The school song -- “March, Jefferson High!” -- pretty catchy as school songs go -- is the last tune.  On a signal from their majorette the band bows, then files from the field, trombones first, then trumpets, flutes, clarinets, saxes, tubas, percussion.  Brigid is the last to leave, right after Morty with his bass drum.  She gets her own burst of applause as she passes in front of the crowd.  Her body is flushed with her exertions but even so one can detect a bashful blush. White girls are transparent that way.

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