One Time…at Band Camp

“One time….at band camp….” – Michelle from American Pie

I was a band geek. Well, to be honest, once a band geek, always a band geek. I AM A BAND GEEK! I started playing the trumpet in fifth grade and moved to euphonium (think mini-tuba) in 7th grade and to tuba in the 10th grade. Like many high school marching bands, we had band camp before school started for the year.

Our band camp was not some camp in the woods, but was a week-long all-day camp held at the high school. Incoming 9th graders learned how to march. Returning members dusted off their instruments that they likely had not touched all summer and all of us started to learn new music and the new halftime show.

I went to high school in the greater Los Angeles area and the final day of band camp was a celebration of our hard work during the week. Our celebration? A day at Disneyland. The morning was full of more playing and marching and just after lunch we boarded the busses to “the happiest place on earth”.

While at the park, I hung out with the two best friends I had in band. The first was Adam. Adam was one of the “bad boys” of my incoming class. He played the drums and generally didn’t seem to care much for authority. He was a good guy, but seemed to never be able to break out of the defiant attitude. As a kid that never rebelled much (um…up to that point), I think I was drawn to that part of Adam. The other friend was Morris. Mo, was the son of the middle school band teacher (and high school choral director) and a gifted musician in his own right. He was full of confidence that you rarely saw in a ninth grader.

We roamed the park, rode rides and when it was getting time to grab a bite to eat, we found ourselves in Frontier Town and decided to eat in Tomorrowland. We boarded the Sky Ride (those small gondola boxes that transport you through the sky from one end of the park to the other) which took us right to where we wanted to go.

A previous occupant of the gondola we were in had left a handful of drinking straws. I noticed them and left them alone. Mo also did the same. Adam, however, couldn’t resist. As we moved over the line waiting to enter Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Adam dropped the straws over the side, one by one. The straws, almost lighter than air, slowly drifted down. The good folks in line, spotted the straws and seemed entertained watching them as they were carried by air currents and eventually found their way to the ground.

We left the gondola, grabbed a burger in Tomorrow land and ate. We decided to return to the other side of the park and once again took the Sky Ride. Once in the gondola, Adam reaches into his pocket and pulled out a handful of ketchup and mustard packets. We all looked at each other and knew it was time to be bad.

Adam kept the ketchup packets, while Mo and I each had a couple of the mustard. The gondola elevated and started to move. We opened our packets and as we reached cursing altitude, looked for our targets to bomb. Mo and I were on one side of the gondola and I saw him squeeze a packet. The mustard dropped and landed on the shoulder and back of a 30 something man wearing a white polo shirt. The yellow stood out dramatically. I squeezed a packet and my payload landed squarely on the top of the head of a twenty something year old man. I never saw what Adam may have hit.

That is when the plan turned on us. We knew those who were hit would be upset, but figured they’d never be able to know where it came from. We never considered:

  1. The gondola, while above the people on the ground, is not really that far away, so it is pretty easy to determine where it may have come from.
  2. The gondola rides on a pre-defined path.
  3. The gondola moves a lot slower than someone can run.
  4. We could not get off the ride until the end.
  5. Each gondola, has a unique number on the side of it that can easily be read from the ground.

The two men were instantaneously enraged. Looking back on it, I can easily see why. These punks just ruined their nice family time at Disney. They pointed to the gondola and started running to meet us at the end. It was only then that we realized these guys were much bigger than us and would likely put us into the hospital. In a panic, we threw the evidence over the side and started to plan how we would run when we got to the end.

Tracking their progress, it quickly became evident that they would beat us there. Our planning went into a frenzy. When our gondola came into the station, there was a Disney cop waiting for us. They stopped the ride as we exited. The conversation went something like this:

Cop: I have two very upset men at the exit that say you squirted mustard on their heads.

Us: We don’t know what they are talking about. We’re innocent.

Cop: Don’t lie to me. I know you did it.

Us: We didn’t do it. Search us. You won’t find any packets or anything.

That is when the cop showed us the outside of the gondola. There was a fresh stream of ketchup on the outside. Adam had never even gotten the ketchup to the ground.

The cop took us past the enraged guests (we were kinda thankful for that) and into the behind the scenes section of Disneyland. We went into the police area and they started to ask us a lot of questions. Once they knew we were there with the band, they started making announcements in the park to get a chaperone to come claim us. The cop told us he could charge us with assault and they were deciding what to do with us. Knowing that Adam’s homelike was less “white picket fence” than ours and he could be in real trouble, Mo and I took full responsibility and swore that Adam was purely innocent. Eventually a half-panicked parent showed up and told us that we better call our parents, because the band director would the next day. Disney kicked Mo and I out and even stamped our hand with the special “not allowed back in” stamp. As the bus was not leaving for another four hours, we would have to wait outside the gates until it was ready. Adam ended up going in an out of the park to get us drinks and snacks.

Mo called home and I could hear the yelling from feet away. Mo’s dad had been my favorite teacher, but he had a temper. Typically Adam bore the brunt this temper (including a few flying erasers back to the drum section), but this time he brought it to Mo. I then called my parents. Once I told the story, I recall my parents laughing and saying that I am getting what I deserved by being so close to fun and not getting it. I was never punished further for it.

We spent the hours talking to the guy minding the kennel, answering all the Disney trivia he lobbed at us.

Shrimp and Sausage With Saffron Rice

Photo Jun 10, 5 19 28 PM - Featured Size

If we had only had this to eat instead of the burgers, we wouldn’t have had any packets of mustard!

Photo Jun 10, 4 34 00 PM

There is quite a bit to this dish.

Photo Jun 10, 4 51 02 PM

Turn the sausage into “pennies” and fry.

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All the flavors mixing together.

Photo Jun 10, 5 19 21 PM

Tasty! A dish with so many similar start ingredients as jambalaya but with such a different taste.

Shrimp and Sausage With Saffron Rice


2 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces andouille sausage (or kielbasa), sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
12 saffron threads, crumbled
1 cup long-grain white rice
3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup frozen carrots
kosher salt and black pepper
3 sprigs fresh cilantro (optional)


1. Heat the oil in a wok or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes total.

2. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Spoon off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.

3. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.

4. Add the broth, saffron, and rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Stir the shrimp and carrots into the rice, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.

6. Spoon onto plates and add the cilantro (if desired).


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Main Dish 3, Pork2, Recipes, Seafood, Wine

Author:The Ranting Chef

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2 Comments on “One Time…at Band Camp”

  1. December 31, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    I have no musical talent. At school I was told to mouth rather than sing. Cooking on the other hand is a different story 🙂


  2. lori m
    January 1, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    I LOVE this story.


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