I Carry An Illegal Cowbell

I Carry An Illegal Cowbell

Who would imagine that a cowbell could be illegal in one of the biggest dairy areas in Pennsylvania? Sad but true. According to the the rules of our state athletic association, spectators are not to bring noise-makers to high school games. I’ve owned a cowbell since our boys played midget football where cowbells, horns, and other instruments of loudness were welcomed. When the eldest son moved into school ball two years ago, I reluctantly tucked my green ringer away on a closet shelf.

However, this fall I was faced with a dilemma. One of the biggest joys of my life is singing as an amateur but well-trained classical soprano. You can imagine what screaming your head off in the stands does to your vocal cords.

I learned how devastating the effects can be at our first victory this season, an away game where we had no cheerleaders and no band. It was just us core fans, and as our boys started showing us how big their hearts are, we parents turned into an impromptu cheerleading squad. It was a tremendous, invigorating night. I participated wholeheartedly in every chant, and even led a few myself.

My voice was jacked up for three weeks. Where singing usually feels like stretching and relaxing an elastic band, it now felt like trying to manipulate a piece of dry grass. Normally, I’d say whatever, I’m cheering for my kids. However, on October 20 I am scheduled to sing at my biggest event ever, invited to present a duet with my professional teacher and also sing a challenging Handel aria. Irritated vocal cords are not a valid option, so out came the clandestine cowbell to act as my football-game voice.

Sometimes it is impossible to stop my automatic exclamations when we make a big play or the ref makes a horrible call. Adding insult to vocal injury, last Friday we sat in pouring rain. When I woke up on Saturday — eight days before the performance — my throat was sore, my nose was burning and running, and I thought, “Oh no.” After giving myself the weekend off and overdosing on vitamin C, I feel better.

In what might be considered good luck or bad luck, rehearsal this week overlaps with my son’s away game on Friday night. Because my Saturday is also fully booked with an author function, I’ve decided to take the wise course and just go home after rehearsal, so I can avoid the damp night air as I rest and prepare.

Talk about guilt.  I can count on one hand the number of games I’ve ever missed yet I still feel selfish doing it. My son could care less.

At least I won’t be flouting any regulations with my forbidden cowbell this week. I have yet to learn who enforces the ding-dong directive and hopefully I never will. It would be pretty embarrassing to have a referee come into the stands to collect my noise-making paraphernalia. I hope whoever the cowbell policeman is, he doesn’t have the authority to confiscate. That bell and I have a lot of history together.

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