When I was in high school, sitting on the bleachers was just part of the “experience” along with baby blue prom dresses, platform shoes, and Peter Frampton albums. We perched ourselves on the rock hard benches without complaint for pep rallies, football games, and track meets. At sixteen, we had no need for stadium seats, pillows, and pads. It seemed our rear ends were made for bleachers and quite frankly, we had other concerns like whether our hair really looked like Farrah Faucett’s or if we could do the Hustle on the dance floor with our eyes closed.
Fast forward thirty years to 2010 as parents everywhere once again celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of a three-month break for our derrières. On a recent evening as my husband and I walked into our daughter’s band concert in the school gym, we gasped simultaneously. There were only two chairs left on the floor, leaving only the bleachers for additional seating. He looked at me and nodded his head. I looked at him, gave the “thumbs up,” and then we ran like we’d never run before. Unfortunately, a former high school track star from the class of 1980 “saved a little for the end” and slid into one of the seats just before us. He casually laid his hand on the chair next to him and announced with a grin and nary a hair out of place, “This one is saved for the 1981 state pole vault champion also known as my wife.” I don’t think I have to tell you how his wife managed to get from the doorway to her chair in less than two seconds.
I scanned the gym for any other seats with backs. No such luck. My husband and I both sighed simultaneously as we trudged over to the bleachers and sat down. Two minutes later as the band began to play, I muttered, “I think I have a herniated disk already.”
My husband rubbed his lower back and groaned. “I’m pretty sure I feel a blood clot traveling from my leg up to my heart.”
I looked around at the other parents. The couples in the seats on the floor looked unbelievably comfortable as their heads bobbed to the beat of the music. My gaze then fell on two parents on the bleachers sitting back-to-back like they were posing for The Monkees album cover. “I think it’s time to invest in some stadium seats,” I whispered to my husband as the band began their second song.
He nodded in agreement and added, “To be honest, right now I’m more concerned whether I’m going to need to be in traction by the morning.” Meanwhile, the only view I was enjoying was one of my kneecaps. As I attempted to cross one of my legs over the other one, I heard a large crack. “What was that?” my husband asked.
“I’m not sure,” I answered, “It could have been my femur bone.”
I glanced at my husband. By the look on his face, I couldn’t tell if he was just really uncomfortable or constipated. We both checked our watches at the same time. My husband leaned over and said, “Please tell me our watches are set on Eastern Time.”
I shook my head. “We’re only three songs into the program.”
He grabbed the program out of my hand. “What?” he said a little too loudly, “Are you telling me there are ten more songs to go?”
“That’s what I’m telling you,” I replied, “And I’m also telling you that you’d better schedule my derrière transplant for 7 a.m. tomorrow.”
We barely made it through the next 90 minutes. I kept my mind off the pain by remembering all the stories about the kids in my high school who avoided sitting on the bleachers and made out under them instead. “Do you want to go under the bleachers for a while?” I whispered in my husband’s ear during the eighth song.
“If you can find a stretcher to wheel me out of here, I’m there!” he grimaced as he weakly smiled.
We never did make it under the bleachers that evening or even out of the bleachers without the help of the school janitor, the principal, and the entire clarinet section who made sure we knew what an inconvenience it was for them to retrieve the school’s snow plow from storage, tie a tow rope to the hitch, and pull us out of our seats.
Meanwhile, I am just feeling grateful that the state track and pole vault champions and their trumpet player son are all moving to another school next year. I might really have a chance now to snatch one of those seats with a back.