Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)

I went walking then to clear my head and to make sure I made it there on time. If I missed my rendezvous with him who knew what chaos would ensue? I know I predict disaster more easily than most people, but this time I could really imagine another week would go by without seeing him, during which I would drive myself insane.

It could be months before the contract and record company stuff is ironed out, I told myself. No use getting anxious.

Then again, I was anxious I hadn’t said more about where we were meeting. The block Ziggy had been describing was equivalent to Eighth Street on the West Side, but after crossing Broadway it turned into St. Mark’s Place. And the music shop we had both been thinking of wasn’t actually on the block he had been describing. I kicked myself mentally and soldiered on, figuring I’d just keep circulating until I ran into him.

The comic book store was nice. Bart and I used to read a lot of comics when we were in school. He’d go every Friday to get new comics and then we’d sit around his dorm room or apartment reading them. He would buy anything that looked remotely interesting. Superhero, indie, you name it. Since we’d moved to Boston I’d gotten out of the habit, but I recognized a lot of things.

The last thing I needed right now, though, with my financial future somewhat in question, was to pick up another expensive habit.

I lingered on the street outside the bookstore as the time drew a bit closer to two o’clock. I cruised in this bookstore once, didn’t I? At least once. God, that seemed like a long time ago. The day after the show at the Pool Bar, the day I had met Artie and he told me he liked us but wasn’t signing us.

Artie. I really needed to be in touch with him.

I went into the punk clothing store then, not wanting to seem as if by standing around outside the bookstore I was cruising. That was the last kind of trouble I needed.

I didn’t buy anything in there either. The cashier was a girl who tried to give me a jaded-as-fuck attitude, but I caught her staring at me kinda wide-eyed a couple of times. I didn’t linger.

When I hit the street again, a large black limo was pulling up outside. The front window rolled down and I saw Antonio. He hopped out immediately and held the back door open for me. I climbed in, the door shut, and we were moving before I had a chance to wonder to where.

Ziggy was leaning back against the seat like he was too exhausted to sit up. “Hey.”

“Are you all right?”

He opened his arms like he wanted to hug me. I wasn’t such a stubborn idiot as to say no to that kind of invitation. I scootched up next to him and pulled him close. I would have thought the way he had been lolling back that there wasn’t any tension in him, but I felt it draining out of him as I held him. Or maybe that was me.

He let out a long sigh.

“How was Los Angeles?” I asked.

“Exhausting.”

“I can see that.”

He lapsed into silence again. I decided I’d wait until he spoke first next time.

I am bad at games of chicken, though. A few minutes later I broke. “Where are we going? I thought you wanted to do some shopping.”

“We can go wherever you want. I just wanted some alone time.” He rubbed his cheek against my chest, but not in a seductive way. “It’s been kind of rough.”

“Has it?”

“Yeah.”

Again the silence. I began to get the feeling he had more to say, but for some reason he wasn’t saying it.

I wondered if that made it my job to figure it out. I decided to try a more pointed question. “What’s the latest with Mills?”

“Fuck.” He squeezed me around my ribcage.

“That bad?”

He didn’t answer, but he was breathing faster and the tension in him was rising.

Oh fuck, I thought. Mills finally made a pass at him. Or worse. What else could it be? My palms went prickly and forced myself to breathe slowly through my nose, waiting to hear the worst.

I was wrong. Mills hadn’t made a pass. And that wasn’t the worst thing Ziggy could have told me. When he finally looked up, and I saw he’d been silent-crying, the words that came out of his mouth were:

“I signed.”

I waited a couple of beats thinking there should be more words to that sentence. Something was missing. That didn’t make sense. Then it began to sink in, and it did make sense. Terrible sense. “You what?” I asked, trying to be sure, hoping I misheard or he meant something else.

He disengaged one arm so he could wipe his nose on the sleeve of his sweatshirt. “I signed it. The development deal.”

I know I sounded angry when I demanded, “When?”

“Yesterday.”

“Yesterday!” And I know that sounded even worse. He moved away from me and huddled in the corner, hugging his knees. “Ziggy, we barely talked about–”

“I got everything you wanted,” he burst out.

“What are you talking about? I didn’t want you to sign it in the first place!”

“Yes, you did. You said you wanted everyone taken care of and you wanted Digger to get screwed.”

What I wanted, but couldn’t of course express at that moment because I was too angry to be coherent, was for him to have consulted me before actually putting his name on anything. “That isn’t what I said at all! We talked in hypotheticals, Zig. You asked me what about this, what about this, you never said you were going to go out and sign the fucking thing!”

“What did you expect? For fuck’s sake, Daron, you thought this was easy?”

“Easiest five million you’ll ever make!” I could barely hear myself over the buzzing in my ears. “If this is exactly what I wanted why are you crying? Why were you afraid to tell me? Huh?”

He rocked back and forth, his eyes sullen.

“And stop acting like you’re five! I’m not your father! Or your mother! For fuck’s sake, Ziggy!”

He growled like he’d been raised by wolves, which was not an improvement. Then he shouted, “I didn’t know what else to do!”

“Stall! Wait! Talk to me!”

“There wasn’t time.”

“Like hell there wasn’t! What, did they ambush you with it when you got off the plane yesterday? Did they hold a gun to your head until you signed it?”

“Something like that,” he murmured, not meeting my eyes.

“So now you’re going to tell me they forced you into it? I thought you said they gave you everything you wanted.”

His voice was still small, barely audible, but you know, my hearing’s pretty sharp. “They did. Which was why I couldn’t stall anymore.”

A heavy silence fell between us then. I couldn’t quite accept that the earth under my feet had moved quite so drastically. And I still didn’t know enough about what this new reality was to get a grip on it.

“It’s all going to work out–” he started to say.

“How? What’s your definition of working out, Zig? Tell me.”

“Seven and a quarter. You’ll be free to work. Digger will be history.”

He meant $7.25 million. “How.”

“It’s a buyout. Mills is heading up a new multimedia division. They’re essentially buying me from BNC–”

“And from me.” I meant to say from the band, but yeah.

He nodded. “So that leaves you free to pursue whatever.”

“How? Wouldn’t that leave the rest of us under contract at BNC?”

“Part of the deal is we get together on a lawsuit to make Digger the fall guy in all the previous disputes between BNC and Moondog Three. That’ll put a stopper on him making anything off this deal and probably you get some cash out of his hide, too.”

“When you say buyout–”

“The breakdown is like this. Five million to me, two-point-two-five to Moondog Three via BNC, who are going to take a little over a million to recoup costs, and then the rest is for you. And the guys. To do whatever you want with. Put Courtney through school, start another band, whatever.”

Start another band. Just kick me in the nuts, why don’t you? Did he really not know how that would sound to me?

What happens to our relationship now? I wanted to ask, but I couldn’t imagine saying the word “relationship” now that it would come out sounding like sarcasm in the wake of what he had done. No wonder he was so upset. He knew this was a break-up conversation before I even got in the car.

His hand slid up my thigh. I think I can be forgiven for slapping it away and snarling, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

He looked like I’d slapped him across the face, not on the hand. Wide-eyed and shocked.

“What?” I demanded. Welcome to the world you made, Zig. “You wanted to fuck me one more time for old time’s sake? To prove you still could? To prove you can have your fucking way with me whenever–?” That was the point where my voice broke and so who knows what else I might have said.

“No,” he said weakly.

I looked out the window. We were on Sixth Avenue heading north, already uptown of the Penta. Heading toward the BNC offices, maybe.

I knocked on the divider between the limo compartment and the driver. The shaded window lowered and Antonio looked back at us with that predictable big-brother concerned-face.

“Pull over. Let me out,” I said.

Antonio looked back and forth between us, but Ziggy had gone into his shell like a snail, curled up and impenetrable. And silent. “Whatever you say, boss.”

The driver pulled over at an unoccupied stretch of curb.

Ziggy woke up suddenly. “You’re really going to get out?”

I looked at him, wondering which of us was feeling the greater disbelief: me that he’d pulled this shit without even asking me or him that I was actually going to remove myself from his vicinity. “I trusted you,” I said as I swung the door open and stepped out. I started walking away so fast I didn’t even slam the door like I should have.

“I did the best I could!” he screamed after me. “Ingrate!”

I heard the door slam after that. I didn’t turn around. I kept walking.

Things happen sometimes. Things that affect your whole future, but which seem random. Or like coincidences. The perfect singer happens to be standing in the crowd that day in the park. Okay, maybe that wasn’t a random coincidence. Ziggy had known us. Had seen us. And probably knew we were looking for a singer. I was still getting used to knowing that information.

This, though, this really was a coincidence: where I had bolted from the limo was two blocks from the Wenco offices.

I wondered if Artie was in. I didn’t have an appointment.

I didn’t care.

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Comments 14

  1. ed69 wrote:

    WOW!

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    Uh, yeah.

    [Reply]

    Posted 19 Aug 2014 at 11:29 am
  2. Alan Katz wrote:

    OMG. Stop the world, I wanna get off! Can’t even imagine where this is going – or why Daron isn’t in therapy, where he belongs? More than one crazy person in this band? Or did Ziggy really mean this as a breakup, papered over with money?

    Too much to absorb at once!

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    It’s certainly too much for Daron to absorb at once!

    [Reply]

    Posted 19 Aug 2014 at 12:13 pm
  3. Tim Chevral wrote:

    Fellow readers – if you’ve ever been in an actual signed, recording band, and gotten fucked over by a bandmate over management, contracts, and other legalities, you would not question Daron’s reaction for even ONE MILLISECOND. He may need a therapist for some other reason but this is not one of them. There IS no more band Alan. Ziggy just broke it up. When you ‘sign’ its legal, its over. Its not a ruse or a facade or a cover. Whether or not Ziggy meant it as an interpersonal breakup, he just killed something that means more to Daron than any person, place or thing – including money – AND wants a thank you. I have done the same door-slam lol and did this ever gut me. Killer chapter ctan… also looking forward to where it goes. Because with ctan you never know lol.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Thanks, Tim! You hit the nail on the head. :-)

    More in store. Of course.

    [Reply]

    Alan Katz Reply:

    Thanks, Tim. I’m well aware of the band experience. A few years ago, I funded and managed an up-and-coming rock band. Talk about getting out of your comfort zone!

    But I wasn’t referring to that in my comment. Maybe I missed something, but Daron immediately took everything Ziggy said as a personal breakup – a dear-John letter in the form of a contract negotiation.

    Yes, I know that Ziggy drove the nail into the Moondog coffin – but I can commiserate. I mean, five million dollars is an almost insurmountable incentive for someone who, just recently, was barely paying the rent. And more than a million for the rest of the band is not that bad a consolation prize. I know this sounds harsh, but bands break up and reform with different personnel, every day, and some musicians end up with astounding second acts.

    But I didn’t get that Ziggy was “breaking up” with Daron, despite him walking away from the band. I’m sure it’s heartbreaking to Daron that they won’t be making music together any more – but is that all they had? Just seemed to me to be a serious case of projection by Daron, one that is not entirely rational.

    On the other hand, it might just be the heat of the moment. We never know what lurks in the devious mind of ctan! LOL.

    [Reply]

    Tim Reply:

    Alan – management vs. musician – not surprised you see it differently than i do. That’s why musicians have managers lol.

    [Reply]

    Alan Katz Reply:

    LOL!! Tim, hate to disabuse you of the notion, but I spent most of my youth as a musician, have at least one degree in music (as a performer) and sang in Europe and America at the age of 19! Of course, I was much younger, and I suspect things were very different, then. But, to be perfectly honest, if someone offered me a couple of million dollars to join another company, or change my genre, or…. (I won’t go much further with that) I would have sputtered and moaned about “artistic freedom” and then taken the money and run – after which, I would have done exactly what I wanted to, anyway! I may have been an artist, but I certainly wasn’t dumb…

    [Reply]

    Tim Reply:

    Gee Alan, you must be mistaking this for Tumblr so I think this will be MY last post lol.

    ….I think we’re the same age prolly. I was signed to A&M and toured in support of U2 in the 80s among others, as well as countless indie tours and venues. I quit more than one band over artistic and ethical differences and certainly wanted to make money but never did it through unilateral decisions that fucked anyone over. There were plenty of ppl i knew who were ready to bag on their bandmates for a big payday, and did so, so you certainly are not alone. Clearly there are just dif kinds of musicians – not surprising. If you want to call me the foolish one, i would be more than honored. I did pretty well for myself in the end so I have no regrets.

    Daron will no doubt have a clearer head tomorrow lol but I def relate to his reaction.

    [Reply]

    Posted 19 Aug 2014 at 1:16 pm
  4. Connie wrote:

    Oh. wow. Daron, my heart bleeds for you.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    Yeah, that sword that was through my chest? at least I had gotten used to it. Ziggy just yanked it free, I guess.

    [Reply]

    Posted 19 Aug 2014 at 1:52 pm
  5. Connie wrote:

    Also amazing how Ziggy negotiated to take over a million from Daron and the band’s 2.25m to recoup costs.

    Yeah-no.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    Well, it is fairly amazing. He’s basically gotten a corporation to pay itself with its own money to wipe out the band’s debt, and is handing the guys a pile of money for which they didn’t have to lift a finger. But that’s not how Daron sees it, of course…

    [Reply]

    AK Reply:

    Yes, it’s pretty amazing what Ziggy negotiated all by himself. :( But did he stop to think that money can’t buy you love or emotional well being? And that money and fame don’t mean a thing if all you’ve got is money and fame?

    In a relationship you can’t make major life changing decisions without consulting your partner. Where’s the consideration for what Daron wanted? Where’s the consideration for their relationship? If I were in that situation I’d be madder than heck too and I wouldn’t have been as nice about it. Because really, can money ever make up for the reality that Ziggy just killed Daron’s dream?

    [Reply]

    Posted 19 Aug 2014 at 1:57 pm
  6. Lenalena wrote:

    Oh, fuckity fuck….

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    To quote you… “la la la BAM” :-)

    [Reply]

    Lenalena Reply:

    You’re not supposed to use that against me!

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    It’s that or pack in even more doom-filled foreshadowing into every chapter…?

    [Reply]

    Lenalena Reply:

    Yeah, no. Not a big fan of doom filled foreshadowing. That is why I stopped reading Isabel Allende.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    And I do try to tell you when something’s good, don’t I?

    [Reply]

    Posted 19 Aug 2014 at 2:28 pm
  7. Averin wrote:

    Jeeze.

    We all knew Ctan had something up her sleeve.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    I knew it couldn’t be *that* easy…

    [Reply]

    Posted 19 Aug 2014 at 2:43 pm
  8. Sue wrote:

    Feels like Ziggy just sold his soul to the devil. Wow I’m floored.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    He did. That’s exactly what he did. Motherfucker.

    [Reply]

    Posted 19 Aug 2014 at 5:08 pm
  9. Janie Friedman wrote:

    Well, fuck. Sorry, D. Was hoping he was better than that. Sigh.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    yeah, that’s about how I felt too.

    [Reply]

    Posted 19 Aug 2014 at 6:27 pm
  10. Amy wrote:

    Ouch, Daron… and here I thought you two were finally learning to communicate. Z’s left with no one in the world, because he gave you what you thought you wanted, and not what mattered the most. And you’re left feeling betrayed and bereft and with no idea of how to fix any of what’s broken now.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    I really feel like what was the point of talking about the deal/the future nonstop for four days? however long it was? (with breaks for eating and sex) if in the end we can end up with such opposite understandings of what was said.

    [Reply]

    Posted 19 Aug 2014 at 6:53 pm
  11. Amber wrote:

    Oh my fucking god. No. Just, no. I feel like I just got kicked in the gut.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    You feel exactly like me.

    [Reply]

    Posted 20 Aug 2014 at 12:07 pm
  12. M.C.A. Hogarth wrote:

    *peers at C*

    I trust you, but at this point, that’s the only reason I’m reading. This has been a lot of pain and angst and very little happiness.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    But happy posts don’t get comments! (Just kidding; if I were really comment-fishing the cliffhangers would be much worse. Viz: The Prince’s Boy…)

    [Reply]

    Posted 20 Aug 2014 at 5:14 pm
  13. s wrote:

    I wish I could unread this, go back a few chapters to the happiness. God Daron, I’m sorry. This is pretty much worst-case.

    Why Ziggy? Why?

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    I think he convinced himself he was doing the best thing for both of us when he was actually only doing the best thing for his own career. Ziggy gets blinded by ambition easily. And I knew that. But I thought he had changed. Or that loving me would make a difference. Or something. Argh.

    [Reply]

    Bill Heath Reply:

    Loving you made a difference because he gave away $2.25M for your sake. Knowing you didn’t make a difference because he doesn’t know you, at least not yet.

    Daron, you never told him what was really important to you: music and Ziggy in equal priority. But you never told him that. You let him lead a discussion about money. I can understand his fixation on $5M, it blinds one to a lot of things. You were too young to recognize that this was happening to Ziggy.

    During that four days you needed to tell Ziggy “Fuck money, fuck the band name, fuck everything but music and you. If I don’t get those, do what you want and we’re through.”

    I had hoped you knew Ziggy well enough to recognize that he has serious difficulty acknowledging the existence of a frame of reference other than his own. It takes a SEE (Significant Emotional Event) to break through that. I had to leave my wife of 43 years to create that SEE. After six months we’re working on reconciliation, and will see how it goes.

    If you ever reconcile, be sure to tell him exactly what you want and what your real priorities are. I hope you get that second chance – the one Ziggy begged for but you refused him.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    If I had to guess, the reason it’s so hard to come out and say “the two most important things to me in life are music and you” is because if the timing is wrong, I know know know that he’ll call me on it and ask which thing is more important to me, and if the timing is wrong I’ll either have to lie and say him to keep from shredding him or I’ll tell the truth and it’ll shred him. If the timing is right he’ll never ask. Because really it comes down to who do you love more, yourself or him, an impossible choice to make, because I’ve finally come to realize that I can’t love him at all unless I love myself first, but yet here I am upset that he chose himself over me/the band. It’s an impossible situation.

    [Reply]

    Posted 05 Apr 2015 at 8:13 pm
  14. Bill Heath wrote:

    Ziggy, I told you that you were a lightweight compared to Mills. The money to BNC isn’t real money, it just moves it from left pocket to right pocket. Zero cost.

    The money to M3? It does not sound as though you had an attorney review the contract. If Mills is obligated to give M3 money, without a date certain and without making the contract contingent on meeting that date certain regardless of anything else occurring, you just screwed the band twice.

    Way to go manipulation master. You’re a fucking amateur.

    [Reply]

    Posted 29 Feb 2016 at 2:28 pm

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