The marching band clicks off a warm-up in the park across the street.
Barb and I watch from the window, commenting on this flag twirler’s blue hair, that one’s skinny jeans
(which keep the eighty-five degree temperature contained around the skin of his calves)
(a vacuum seal of sweat and leftover summer tan)
Closing time, Gordy retells an Ole and Lena joke for me:
“Ole and Lena are sitting in a restaurant, surrounded by young couples in love … ”
The veterans come marching up the street, hiding their limps and holding high the colors.
We watch them come, as the saxophone players wet their reeds the trombones utilize their spit valves the flutists shuffle but are prim and ready
and the band director’s neck muscles tense and his arms begin to raise
The veterans have arrived at the gazebo without incident.
The EMTs fall back
Folding chairs whine as the crowd rises to honor the flags, but mostly the veterans.
“one young man says to his young lady, ‘pass the sugar, Sugar.'”
The band director waves his hands in mysterious signals.
And suddenly, miraculously, the Star Spangled Banner plays.
I put a hand over my heart, a trick I picked up at Gopher football games because I never had a hat to take off like the men.
“Another young man says to his young lady, ‘pass the honey, Honey.”
A few cars, stopped at the Schmidt Oil stoplight, direct honks toward the flag,
“Lena says to Ole, ‘why don’t you ever talk to me like that anymore?'”
and somehow, they fit in with the song as it ends with an untimely squawk.
“Ole replies, ‘pass the tea, Bag.'”
The band director shudders discernibly, but we clap and clap.