It’s Only Natural

Our first stop was Venezuela. If you picture South America like an ice cream cone, Caracas is basically where the cherry on top of it would be. I don’t think we even changed time zones, just flew straight south like migrating birds, but I can’t really be sure since I slept through a bunch of the flight.

If your wondering how I slept through a cramp so intense it was sending shooting pains up to my elbow, the answer is simple: pharmaceuticals.

I won’t even tell you how messed up it made me feel that here we were supposedly on a drug-free tour, and I was anything but. It didn’t make me feel better that these were things I had been given legitimate prescriptions for. Remember the painkillers Ziggy liked were prescribed for him, too.

So basically the only time I wasn’t feeling consumed by guilt about the drugs was while I was unconscious from the drugs. But at least when I woke up my hand didn’t hurt anymore.

We were over the ocean and Bart told me I’d just missed the pilot mentioning the island off to one side was Monserrat, where The Police recorded Ghost in the Machine and Dire Straits recorded Love Over Gold. I found my fingers scratching at the shielded window toward it.

Flip was across the table from me. “You can’t record there anymore, though,” he said.

“No?” I asked.

“A hurricane in ’89 wiped out almost everything on the island, tore the buildings to pieces. Nothing’ll ever be the same,” he said.

“1989, eh?” God, I thought. Why does everything have to be a fucking metaphor? “Where’s Ziggy?”

“Upstairs getting rolfed by Josie.” Flip tossed a couple of piece of ice into his mouth and crunched down on them.

“Um. Maybe it’s the drugs but I didn’t understand a word you just said.”

“The choreographer gives the world’s most sadistic massage, apparently,” Bart clarified for me. “It does not sound fun.”

As if to prove the point, the sound of Ziggy cursing loudly and colorfully from somewhere above us reached my ears, and then an announcement from the pilot about our landing being imminent.

I watched out the window as the continent came into view while we circled around to land. I was reminded of California, how the mountains came almost all the way to the ocean, with the city sandwiched in a flat valley.

I was not prepared for the armed guards greeting us. “Are they here to protect us or keep us in line?” I asked Carynne.

“No idea,” she said, “but we’ve got people dealing with all the customs and government stuff.”

Indeed, we breezed through the airport under the shepherding of some kind of officials, and were taken in what looked like government vans to our hotel. Some of the officials were in charge and some were translators, I think? It was never really clear to me. What was clear: we were not supposed to go out. I understand that in both Spanish and English. The city is beautiful but dangerous, they said.

I wanted to know when we could rehearse. The answer was apparently “not yet” since all our equipment was still impounded, instruments included. Flip and I each had an Ovation and that was all.

What do you do with twenty or so musicians and dancers in a country where we weren’t allowed to do drugs or go out? The hotel did have a bar and restaurant, at least, but after that there were a lot of hours to kill, especially after it became obvious it was going to be midnight before the crew was going to be allowed to set up at the venue. Christian began teaching Marvelle and the horns to play cribbage.

The bar/restaurant was not open particularly late. It was kind of like once they had fed dinner to most of the hotel’s guests, they closed, and we ended up having a kind of open-door party on the floor of the hotel where our rooms were.

I found Bradley on a small couch in one of the suites, hunched over a bleeping device. I squeezed in next to him. “What is that?”

“Here, you play for a while or my eyes are going to start to bleed.” He handed me the gray box–a Nintendo GameBoy.

“Oh shit,” I said, as I realized what he was playing. It was this game where squares fell out of the sky and–wait. I probably don’t have to explain what Tetris is, do I? “I had this on the Mac and I deleted it after two days because it was so addictive I wasn’t getting any work done.” I was halfway through playing a round of it before I realized the other problem, which was that it was another thing guaranteed to make my hand cramp. “Hey, Colin! Finish this game for me.”

Colin squished between me and Bradley and took the Game Boy out of my hand.

“I have Super Mario, too,” Bradley said, “if Tetris gets boring.”

So that was how we spent most of our first evening in another country: watching Colin play Tetris and Super Mario on a Nintendo GameBoy. Don’t as me why it was nearly as addictive to watch him play as to do it ourselves. I guess we were having a good time? Describing it now I know it doesn’t sound like much fun but thinking back on it now I remember it fondly, anyway.

A bit later Colin declared himself done, or maybe he just went to relieve himself, I don’t remember. Bradley and I were sitting there alone, anyway. And Bradley said to me, “Do you and he have a thing going on, still?”

“Col’, you mean?”

“Yeah. I mean, is it a fuckbuddies sort of situation or are you and Ziggy working on a three-way relationship with him or what?” Bradley said this in about as matter-of-fact a way as you might have asked if I was saving the milk in the fridge for morning cereal or if it was okay to drink some.

I blinked stupidly for long enough that Bradley’s cheeks got very pink. “I mean, I’m not trying to pry, I just, kind of, um.” The next words came out very quick and quiet but just barely intelligible: “wanttoknowifhe’savailable.”

I coughed to keep myself from laughing. “I’ve never known anyone to put strings on Colin,” I said, which was the truth.

“He’s bi, right?”

“Yeah.” How did I get myself into a conversation about Colin’s sexuality? How? Why? I didn’t see a good way to get out of it, anyway. I was about to try to explain what Colin had explained to me, about being 90-percent heterosexual but 10-percent anything goes, but I realized I didn’t understand it. “You can totally ask him about it.”

“You don’t think that’d be too obvious?”

“Um, too obvious for what?”

“You know. If I’m interested in him.”

“Brad, I don’t think too many guys I know get turned off by hearing you’re into them.”

“Oh.”

I took a breath, preparing myself to give the “don’t sleep around too much on tour” speech. Then realized that no one ever takes that advice so why do we give it? Instead I said, “Has someone already given you the ‘don’t sleep around too much with your tourmates’ speech?”

His response was an epic sigh. “You mean is there anyone on this tour who can cast that stone?”

“Well, you know what they say, those who can’t do, teach.” We both chuckled about that. “But seriously.”

“Yeah, I know, no one needs the added stress of interpersonal drama, yadda yadda, but you know the half the dancers are basically having an orgy down the hall already.”

“Oh? I hadn’t noticed.” I really hadn’t.

“Makes sense, I guess. They are all touchy-feely.” Bradley shrugged. “I just like to know what my options are, even if I don’t do anything about it. You’re the only person I really feel comfortable talking about it with, though.”

Me? I couldn’t imagine why. “Um, thanks?”

“It’s kind of a pain because the guys I am the most attracted to are these macho Kinsey Six gay men who are only attracted to other macho Kinsey Sixes and all the hormone therapy in the world isn’t going to turn me into that. A bi guy is the next best thing, though.” He sighed again and then reddened. “Shit. Now I’ve said way too much.”

“How many beers did you have when we were downstairs?”

“Not sure. I split a pitcher with some people, but the bartender kept filling it up again.”

I nodded. “Look. Not only can I not give you the don’t sleep around advice, I’m also the last person qualified to tell you to watch how much you drink. But, Bradley, I will tell you this. It’s your first time on a tour of this magnitude. My advice is just… pace yourself. Watch yourself and pace yourself.”

“Yeah, I thought you might say that.” He hunched down, face red again, but smiling a little. “The most important thing is that I nail my parts, though, right?”

“The most important thing is that no one goes insane,” I said seriously. “But nailing your parts is pretty important, too.” Words to live by, eh? I should put it on a plaque.


A couple of quick notes:

1) Kickstarter reward shipping is done! (Except for two items I owe to Lena and Chris, that is.) But the rest of you, you should have your books & shirts and everything by now. If you don’t, ping me for tracking info. What I forgot to ship was, apparently, about 20 packages went out without the letter from me in them, though! But at least you got all the stuff!

2) If you missed the Chris Cornell “In Memoriam” post(s), the past two Thursdays have both been dedicated to him. Lena’s playlist of lesser-known songs is really fabulous and I recommend it.

3) Details about the DGC Meetup are starting to come together! August 20th in Louisville, KY. We have been granted a meeting room at the Louisville Free Public Library from 1-5pm, and we’re looking into possibly adding a bookstore and a tattoo parlor to the itinerary. Someone suggested karaoke that night? We’re also looking into ways we can involve those of you who can’t be there, but might be able to be on the Internet, i.e Youtube Live and/or Facebook Live and things of that nature! If you’re maybe thinking of being there physically, though, please RSVP via this Google form: https://goo.gl/forms/0zha4Jxo0E6fqETE3

4) Casting call posts will start next week!

Love you all,

-ctan


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Comments 3

  1. s wrote:

    So, the talk didn’t happen at 35,000 feet above Venezuela. Nuts. Lol.

    Bradley sounds like he needs someone to talk openly with. I imagine his life can be very isolating. It’s an awesome feeling to be that one person for someone, and a huge responsibility. Keep that in mind, ok?

    I totally get what you mean about the Gameboy. My hubby and I spent an embarrassing amount of time watching YouTube videos of some dude playing Super Mario 3…because we wanted to play and don’t have a 64 anymore.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    In the heyday of video arcades it was totally a thing to go to arcades and watch guys (and the occasional girl) who were really good at a game play it. Pac-Man, Defender, whatever it was. You could give yourself the excuse that you were learning how to handle the higher levels but a lot of it was just it was fun to watch people get high scores and stuff. I remember racking up high scores in Tempest at the Coin Castle in Seaside Heights.

    The thing is the Gameboy is so small you kind of have to cram together to be able to see it. And even then there’s not much detail, so it’s kind of weird to me that we were as into it as we were. But whatever, anything to prevent boredom?

    [Reply]

    Posted 30 May 2017 at 11:35 am
  2. WMD wrote:

    Alright, I know I said they should have a masseuse on the team, but rolfing could destroy you!

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    Yeahhhh as I think I told Colin, I am not into pain.

    [Reply]

    Posted 30 May 2017 at 4:11 pm
  3. sanders wrote:

    I want to hug the hell out of Bradley. I’m really hoping he gets comfortable enough to talk to Bart as well as Daron, because Bart’s so good with helping people see rational options (and letting them think they got there on their own).

    Tetris is the worst. The absolute worst. I refuse to download any of the apps for it to my phone or tablet because it would be six months before anyone heard from me again.

    Daron, don’t think we didn’t notice how you failed to answer what your intentions toward Colin are.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    I’d have to know what those intentions were in order to answer.

    [Reply]

    Posted 30 May 2017 at 7:36 pm

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