Ziggy woke me up in the morning looking too fresh and happy to be believed. I could smell his hair gel as I forced myself into a sitting position, my head heavy with undersleptness. “Come on, boss,” he said, tugging on my foot through the blanket. “It’s five hours to Chapel Hill and Bizzy says we’ve got to be off the stage by ten.”
“I’m up,” I said. The only people who say “I’m up” are the groggy, ever notice that?
I could have been packing instead of lying there thrashing last night, I realized, which of course made me feel just great about myself, too. Ziggy swept his toiletries into his backpack and was pretty much ready to go, and out he went. I packed and got dressed with the curtains still drawn against the morning sun.
I should explain about tour nicknames, shouldn’t I.
This is one of those things that spontaneously happens, somehow along the way people pick up nicknames which generally last only until the tour ends. I couldn’t tell you when we started called Carynne “Bizzy” (because she’s a busy bee) or Kevin “Puck.” Bart had gone from being Yoo Hoo to being Boo Hoo when we couldn’t find any for sale, which became Boo Boo sometime later. Chris easily became Christ. In fact, I might have been the only one not to pick up any specific nickname, at first because everyone was too worried about sending me off the deep end, and later everyone picked up J’s habit of calling me D, which led to Christian saying things like “Dee doo ron ron, dee doo ron ron, you want to drive first or should I?”
I told him to take first shift and I moved to the back. Carynne, her darkest sunglasses on and a bottle of spring water in her hand, climbed into the passenger seat. No one seemed very talkative this morning. I went back to sleep.
At our first pit stop, a kind of tourist-trap-ish place with mountains of pecan brittle and commemorative salt and pepper shakers strategically placed between the entrance and the rest rooms, I stepped up to Carynne in the cashier’s line. “How are you?”
She looked at me over the tops of her sunglasses. “Fine. You?”
“Me too,” she said and looked down at the packs of gum in her hand. Even for a tired, hung-over Bizzy this seemed too curt.
I had planned to make some kind of stupid joke about Ziggy, but the tightness of her lips, and the way she sort of shook the gum in her hand in silent encouragement for the cashier to hurry, made me forget whatever I was going to say. It wouldn’t have been funny anyway.
So today Carynne was ignoring me, but Ziggy wasn’t. Back in the van he wanted to debate the relative merits of Boston ska like Bim Skala Bim and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones versus British two tone groups of a couple of years ago.
“You don’t seriously think that Allston ska is going to break mainstream,” I said. “How can you compare international hit machines like The English Beat to the Bosstones?”
“Bosstones just did a Miller Light commercial,” said Christian, from the driver’s seat.
“No, really?” Ziggy sat forward, his dark eyes sparkling in Southern sunlight. “How’d they get that gig?”
Chris shrugged. “Just heard about it from some of the other guys in the Mile. Don’t know who they had to blow, if that’s what you mean.”
“See?” Ziggy said to me.
“What’s to see? New England ska just isn’t the same phenomenon as the rude boy Brit pop thing.”
And so it went for several more miles. Chris got tired of the tapes he had brought and we played Name That Tune with the radio, which, in the South, was a bit different than playing it up North. Chris and I could go head to head on classic rock, but when it came to genuine “oldies” I could slaughter them all. Thank Remo for that.