The Framing Of ’87

I may or may not have mentioned it before, but I played trombone in Band in high school.  In the spring of my sophomore year, our band went to Disney World and marched down Main Street in their Main Street Parade.  We flew down to Florida and stayed in a variety of hotels while there (about four nights worth of lodging).  And it was during one of these nights that I was framed.

The band director and chaperones divided all of the band members into combined groups of upperclass (juniors and seniors) and lowerclass (freshmen and sophomores) for the hotel rooms, an average of about eight people per room.  Of course, these groups were all male or all female, but that didn’t stop the radar from going non-stop for any intel as to who was staying in which room.  As you can imagine, the upperclassmen made sure that they got the biggest and the best beds, while us underclassmen had to fend for ourselves and get whatever morsels of comfort the upperclassmen, in their oversight, had left behind for us to grab.

So on one particular night, the four upperclassmen had all retreated into their lair in the back part of the hotel room where the bedroom was (no idea what they were doing, but I eventually found out) while us underclassmen were attempting to make do with whatever we could call “bedding down for the night” in the front part of the hotel room.  I had found four big chairs that had no arm rests, so I quickly put my MacGyver skills to work and lined the chairs up on one side of the room, the sitting part of each chair next to the other (making one long cushion to lay on) and each chair facing the other one so that the backs of the chairs were on opposite sides, making an effective barrier between me and the floor (I remember laying on my spiffy make-do bed, my body surrounded by the chair backs, feeling like I had just made the coolest fort around and no one could do anything about it).  I have no recollection of what the other lowerclassmen did for a bed that night, but I knew I had no worries.

Now, as a sidebar here, you already know from previous stories and experiences I’ve shared with you that I’ve been a Christian all my life and have never had the desire to live any other way.  That’s simply who I am.  So everyone in that room knew, more or less, how I lived my life.  It’s crucial that I remind you of this very important fact.  You’ll see why in a minute.

At some point in the middle of the night, I was awakened by a bright flash of light and what faintly sounded to me like incoherent whispering.  It felt like a dream to me, though, so I stirred a bit and went back to sleep.  In the morning, however, everyone was snickering about something and couldn’t look at me without smiling–like they knew something that I didn’t–and generally giving me a growing sense of uneasiness, like I’m about to somehow open a can with a snake that springs out of it and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.  Eventually one of them couldn’t keep it to himself anymore and caved and then they all told me what happened…

When they knew I was asleep, one of my underclassmen buddies defected and snuck into enemy territory, telling the upperclassmen that I was sawing logs.  They all came out of their hole in the ground and carried with them everything that they could possibly have that they shouldn’t on this band trip.  I have to admit, though, they did what they did with an artist’s flair:  There I was, sleeping on my back.  Feeling the need to smoke in my sleep, I had a cigarette dangling from my lips (unlit, of course, because it’s not smart to smoke while you’re falling asleep–even more so when you’re already asleep).  But just in case that didn’t work, I had a can of chewing tobacco in one of my hands, apparently a source of comfort for my nicotine dependency that I didn’t have.  But who’s got time for that when I had a Playboy magazine open and laying across my chest?  Of course, I wasn’t looking at it because under one of my arms was a bottle of Jack Daniels, so obviously I was in no condition to be looking at anything but the inside of my eyelids.  The flash that I saw–and the incoherent whispering afterwards–was one of them taking a picture and then the mad scramble to pick everything up before I could stir enough to gather my senses and realize what was happening.

I never did see that picture.  They wouldn’t show it to me.  They described it in vivid detail, but I still was refused access to it.  Made me wonder if it even existed (although I couldn’t deny the flash of light I remember seeing).  One of the girls in my class was the girlfriend of the upperclassman who took the picture.  When we graduated, she told me that she had seen the picture but didn’t know  if it was even around anymore.

Just as well.  Maybe they burned it.

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