3N Out of Step

August 8, 2007

Before I get into my adventures with guns at the University of California at Berkeley, I need to explain that I am unable to march in step. I am unable to march in step because I am rhythm-impaired.

For example, if a group of people are clapping in time to some music, I invariably clap in between everyone else’s claps

The same deficiency afflicts me if I try to march in step. At a high school in the small town of Verona, just outside Madison, Wisconsin (high school number three in my tangled secondary education career) I played flute in the concert band and piccolo in the marching band. (A piccolo is a flute that was left out in the rain and shrank. The marching band was a concert band that was left out in the Wisconsin snow and shivered.)

My band mates became quite agitated with me as I invariably marched out of step when we played at half time during football games. However, I felt in step with the Verona football team, which did not win a game all season, but did manage (much to their and everyone else’s surprise) to score one touchdown during that long season.

The way our pathetic football team scored its one touchdown was that our quarterback missed a hand-off to the intended halfback. This was not a “fake” handoff to fool the defense. It was a bungled handoff because the halfback was nowhere near the quarterback as he held out the ball to no one in particular. The halfback was nowhere near the quarterback because he had not been listening as the quarterback called the play in the huddle.

The bungled handoff may have fooled the defense even more than a fake handoff, as the panicked quarterback ran wildly around the backfield and then threw a “Hail Mary” pass that landed in the arms of a surprised tight end who managed to clutch the ball long enough as he fell into the end zone for the referees to declare the pass complete and a touchdown.

Although our team tried to replicate this play on other occasions, it did not prove to be a reliable offensive strategy nor did it lead to any more touchdowns. If it had succeeded more than once, it might perhaps have traveled to professional football and fans today would be talking about the “Verona, Wisconsin offense” instead of the “West Coast offense.”

In any case, after I had attended six high schools in three states, the National Association of Secondary School Principals ruled that I should be graduated before I contaminated any more secondary schools. For no other more sensible reason that I can remember than it sounded like a cool place, I enrolled in the University of California for the 1963-1964 academic year.

The year I attended Berkeley was one year before the infamous Free Speech Movement appeared on that campus to launch the counterculture movement of the 1960s. The counterculture movement included the appearance of the civil rights movement’s “freedom summer” so our country would eventually be safe for rap music, the rise of the anti-Vietnam war movement so frightened young people could claim noble reasons for avoiding getting shot in steamy jungles, and the rise of the hippie culture with its themes of free love and drug use so baby boomers would know why they should eventually tell their children not to get pregnant while stoned.

These radical movements in turn spurred backlashes including the election of Ronald Reagan as Governor of California and then President of the United States, culminating in the election of George Bush as President.

You may think, now we know why Random Name writes under a pseudonym. I can hear my readers muttering: He’s the one responsible for the whole mess of today’s world.

This allegation is completely without merit. In 1962, I wasn’t setting the groundwork for the excesses of the 60s. I was flunking ROTC.

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4 Responses to “3N Out of Step”

  1. mommy Says:

    I am also rhythm impared. When my husband and I go walking, he is constantly telling me to swing my arms in rhythm with my steps and, for the life of me, I can’t do it. I also cannot tap my foot to music.

  2. Cameron Says:

    Having successfully completed ROTC, I cannot imagine how on earth you flunk it–please elaborate!

  3. modestypress Says:

    My wife has a good sense of rhythm, just as I don’t. Don’t tell anybody, mommy, but perhaps we were meant for each other. On the other hand, if rhythm-impaired people come together, do they perhaps create a super-out-of-rhythm event? Something like a nuclear explosion, or matter meeting anti-matter? Better not to find out.

  4. modestypress Says:

    Cameron, everyone here is depending on you to defend our country. Anyone who is depending on me should probably flee for the hills immediately, unless they are worried about killer bunnies. They may have a fighting chance in that regard.

    As soon as I get an opportunity, I will relate the shameful tale of my ROTC disgraces.


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