188. Life’s What You Make It

At 10:45 in the morning I was awakened by the sound of the door opening partway and then the chain clunking hard against the door while a sort of Spanish-sounding woman’s voice muttered an apology. The door shut again and I found myself staring at the ceiling, as if my eyes were awake before my brain was. I glanced at the clock on the table next to me, the red numbers’ glow made faint by the morning light. I guess I had remembered to put the chain on the door last night but not to shut the curtains.

Bart rolled over and yawned. “One of these nights you’re going to put that chain on before I get home,” he said, which gave me a Twilight Zone moment, like he’d read my mind.

We both lay there staring at the ceiling, at opposite edges of a king-sized bed so big it wasn’t even like we were in the same bed. I felt awake, much more awake than I would have expected after the crappy sleep I’d been getting. Then I sat up and decided I was not as chipper as I’d first thought. I felt tired, like I was wearing wet clothes, every move heavy and full of effort. I let myself collapse back and the bed bounced.

“Getting up?” Bart pulled the soft hotel sheet up and drummed on his chest.

“I don’t know.”

“What time did you get to bed? I must have slept right through it.”

“It was after 6am. I took a shower and everything.”

“Jeez. And to think when we do this again next time it’s going to be three times as long, with fewer days off in between.”

He meant touring. “But less driving,” I pointed out. I was starting to have an inexplicably bad feeling about the tour that was, even as we lay there like lumps, being booked. I was thinking about Tread and that weird little gun he carried stashed in his gear in their bus, only on bus tours of course, no way to get a firearm through airports, he’d explained. He’d never explained what it was for, nor why he was showing it to me. And at the time I’d been too busy acting nonplussed to ask. I remembered the blunt look of the thing, the weird averse-to-touching-it feeling that tingled in my hands as he’d showed it and then stowed it. “Hey Bart?”


“Do you really never worry about money?” (Don’t ask me to explain how the question was related to the gun memory other than maybe an oblique Warren Zevon reference.)

“Not generally, no. Though I used to fake it sometimes just so I wouldn’t seem like the trust fund kid that I am. Although it’s a fine line, because if everyone knows you’ve got plenty of dough, you look stingy if you gripe about the price of things or what have you.”

A tiny red light blinked from the ceiling–a smoke alarm, I guessed. “Forget the price of things, or paying stuff. What about getting paid? Like, would you accept lower than scale for a piece of work just because you know you don’t need the money?”

“Heck no,” he said and his voice cracked a little with morning dryness. “It’s not a question of money, it’s fairness and dignity.”

“But is it fair for musicians who don’t need the money to take what might be given to another guy who needs it more?”

“Don’t give me that philosophy theory type stuff. If I take under scale for a job, then that ends up dragging the scale down. Talk about unfair. It’d be different if, say, it was a friend who I knew was strapped in his budget. Or say we knew he was doling out a major chunk to get like Tony Levin to come into the session or something. I mean, I’d pay them to work a session with Tony Levin.” We both lay silent for a while, watching the alarm blink, and then he said “Did that answer your question?”

“I guess.”

“Or did you not ask the question you really meant to?”

“I think I was getting to something.”

“Band stuff?”

“Do you think Digger’s a good manager?”

“I don’t really have a point of comparison, but, he seems okay. I could imagine it being a lot worse, anyway.”

“Yeah.” Going on what Remo said last night, I had only vague suspicions, no actual accusations to level against him.

“Why do you ask?”

“Just wondering what we’re going to do when the trial period is up. It’ll be, oh, just about when we’re supposed to hit the road again.”


“Ditto. Something to think about.”

Neither of us moved for several long beats and then Bart lurched wearily to his feet. Once he was in the shower I started the process of digging through my clothes. We’d missed a laundry day with the extra time in Boulder, which meant getting dressed took more brainpower. It also meant I should probably be getting my laundry done now. But I had other things to think about.


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