“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.
November 16 ❤️
An away game today (Olneyville) and after last week’s frigidness (is that a word?) Sarge asked everyone to wear thermals. Part of my job is to check everyone else’s uniform before we enter the gate. I don’t know anything about thermals, of course -- I’m the majorette, after all -- but the rest of the band wears so much stuff that sometimes they can’t feel when something’s on straight or not. This time it was a mess -- some of the kids have outgrown the thermals from last year and they will have to get new ones. Sleeves (thermal sleeves that is) were poking out of everyone’s jackets. It took me fifteen minutes to check everyone, by which time I was shivering and I couldn’t feel my feet on the concrete. At the end I could barely control my hands to tug and straighten sleeves. I say Hail Marys at times like that and they help me get warm, or at least “think” warm. Of course my blood got moving when we made our entrance. “Hold that Tiger” and “Washington Post” and everyone cheered. The Tunemasters are the best marching band in the state, that’s for sure.
We lost, 32 - 30! Oh well, it’s only the first time this year. Maury’s back in action but out of practice. One incomplete bounced off Horace’s helmet and almost hit me as we were in position offside. I twisted out of the way just before it hit my boob. (That would have been a major “ouch”!!)
No one’s called me “Frigid Brigid” in a long time now -- good!