(NOTE: The Malware is GONE. We’re CLEAN.)
We had take-out Indian from a place Michelle liked, so she brought it. There was way more than we could eat. Lars promised he’d throw the leftovers out before we got back if he couldn’t eat them himself. He was moving in with his girlfriend, but he was going to take the two months we were gone to gradually move his stuff and make sure the house was okay. While we were gone the whole outside was going to be painted and the gutters fixed. Chris had arranged all that so I hadn’t even really thought about it that much.
I barely felt like eating anyway. Just some bread dipped in spicy goop. I don’t know anything about Indian food so that’s pretty much what it comes down to for me anyway. Probably not the best meal for a nervous stomach.
We were all like kids on Christmas, having a sleepover. When it got to be midnight I figured no one was going to sleep. Bart and Michelle went into the guest room by themselves, but I don’t know if sleep was on their agenda.
I found myself talking to Colin in the kitchen at one a.m.
“I just hope I fit in,” he was saying.
“What do you mean?”
“It’s a pretty big crew, Carynne says. I know I’m with you, but I’m really one of them. I hope I get along with them.”
“I’m sure you will.” I started to laugh then.
“What’s so funny?”
“I just realized you’re kind of in the spot I was in the first time I went on tour. With Nomad. And I hired you the same way Remo hired me.”
He shrugged. “Well, it’s not my first tour, exactly, since I went around with you in the spring.”
“I know. I meant more like getting hired as a friend. I’m sure you’re going to be fine, Col. Chris is all excited about partying with you.”
That made Colin laugh. “He’s a trip. We’re probably going to get into another cribbage grudge match. Besides, he’s got a girlfriend now. Um, not that that makes a difference to some guys.”
I shrugged. I wasn’t about to judge something I didn’t know about. Maybe Lacey was like Michelle and didn’t mind.
Ziggy came in and got a beer from the fridge. “You two talking shop?”
“Not really,” I said. He looked tired, but like me, wired. “I don’t think I’m getting to sleep tonight. Not without getting laid. Not that that was a proposition to either of you,” he added hastily.
“Crap on a stick, what time is it?” Colin asked.
“I can’t sleep on planes. I’m going to try to grab a nap,” he said, then left the room. I heard his feet on the stairs as he literally ran up to bed.
Ziggy watched him go. “You know, if you two stood next to each other, and you asked ten people which of you was the rockstar guitarist and which one was the tech, you know nine out of ten would pick him over you.”
“So what are you saying?”
“I’m saying let me go through what clothes you packed, promise me you’ll wear eyeliner, and will you let me cut your hair?”
“The haircut could wait until we’re in Seattle, which might be good, because then someone else’ll have to clean up the clippings. But seriously.”
He looked completely serious and businesslike. And earnest.
“Is this your idea or did the other guys put you up to it?”
“Does it matter? Would peer pressure make a difference?”
“I guess not. What do you want to do with my hair?”
“Just make it less ratty. Nothing fancy, I promise.”
“Since when do you know how to cut hair?”
“I’ve been cutting my own since I was a teenager. It’s way easier to cut someone else’s, trust me.” He held up his hands. “If it’s me you’re worried about, let’s go get it cut when we get there. Okay?”
“It’s not you I’m worried about,” I said. I tugged my hair free of the ponytail. I had last got it cut… I couldn’t remember. Maybe before Christmas? And I’d been letting it grow for a while. “It’s true it gets annoying when it gets under my shoulder strap.”
“And you look ten times better on stage without the ponytail,” he said.
“Okay, fine. Let’s cut it. That first or you want to dig through my suitcase now?”
“Suitcase first. Come on.”
We went out to the living room where my new suitcase was already sitting with everyone else’s. Took me a minute to remember that the new one was mine.
As it turned out, Ziggy approved of the contents. I had picked all my interesting T-shirts, basically, from bands more obscure than us, or just cool-looking designs.
The one that had his handprint was in the bottom. He looked at it, folded it, and put it back in without comment.
We went up to the bathroom together, and he laid down two towels side by side, put a chair on it, and then invited me to sit. I could see us both in the rusted but full-length mirror on the back of the door. He pulled a pair of scissors out of the medicine cabinet.
“Are those yours?” I asked.
“Nope. I bet they’ve been here longer than you, Daron.”
“But they’re real haircutting shears. I noticed them when we did my hair.”
“And you’ve been thinking about doing this ever since?”
“Why’d you wait until tonight?”
“Because I’m a terrible procrastinator?”
That was certainly believable.
“I think you should get your head wet,” he said. “It’s easier to cut wet.”
“Don’t bother to take your jeans off. Just stick your head into the sink and then wrap a towel around.”
He clearly remembered the accusation of just trying to get me undressed. I took my shirt off and stuck my head into the sink. He mussed it around some, helping me wet it all without cracking my skull on the faucet.
He toweled it a little and then draped the damp towel over my shoulders like a cape. He combed my hair this way and that, then began to trim the ends.
We didn’t talk. I just watched him in the mirror and he worked intently. He trimmed the sides a little, too. “There, how’s that? I mean, once it dries. It should look a lot like your usual. Or what I think of as your usual. The way it was when we met.”
“Waitasecond.” I ran my fingers through it. “Is that what this is about?”
“What what is about?”
“Ziggy, I’m not stupid. You said you wanted to start over, a second chance. Is it just a coincidence that your haircut and mine are the same now as they were then?”
He stared at me in the mirror, then put a hand under my chin and tipped my head back so we were looking into each other’s eyes. “You’re crazy, you know that?”
“Am I? You’re telling me you did it by accident?”
“If I did, it was totally subconscious. I didn’t realize it.”
“Like taking that makeup from the drugstore?”
He sighed and I thought for a moment he was going to kiss me. Instead, he let me go. “Okay, maybe it was subconscious. I’ll lay it on the table for you in case you’ve forgotten. I fucked it up, okay? Maybe I do want to go back to how it was before. You know I want another chance. But you also know, like I do, this isn’t the time. I promised I wouldn’t mess with success. You’ve made it clear that means staying out of your pants.”
How about out of my head, though, Zig? I thought.
“I’ll get my rocks off elsewhere, I promise,” he said. “But I don’t want the strife, the tension. We’ve got too much to do. I liked it when we were friends, too, you know. Before we were lovers.”
“Stop with all the labeling and categorizing. It’s so high school. Is so and so your friend? Are you best friends? Are you going steady? Ugh. Come on. We weren’t even friends. We were bandmates. We were creative partners. But I don’t think we were friends. I didn’t even know where you lived. Heck, until last week I’d never even been to your apartment.” Shit, that came out all wrong and he looked hurt. I grabbed his hand, the one that didn’t have a pair of scissors in it and turned around in the chair so I wasn’t looking at his reflection anymore. “Stop trying to go back and fix things. We weren’t friends, but I think we are now. We’ve been through a lot together. That counts for something.” I’m starting to think you’re actually a decent human being when you work at it, and I actually like spending time with you, I thought, though I couldn’t quite say that. “Moving forward is much more important to me than rehashing the ways we hurt each other.”
He squeezed my hand. “This tour is going to be hell if we can’t depend on each other.”
“Of course we’ll depend on each other,” I said, with a small frown.
He squeezed harder. “I’m not expressing it well. I need to know you’re on my side.”
“There are sides?”
“That’s what I mean. There aren’t sides, but I need to feel like if there were, we’d be on the same one.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry. Now I sound like a nut. And here I am trying to convince you I’m the sanest I’ve ever been.”
I shook his hand a little, to get him to look at me instead of the inside of his eyelids. “Zig. It’s okay. Stop trying so hard.”
“Really. We’re doing fine.”
“I’m trying not to push.”
“I know. And I appreciate it.”
We stared at each other until it was just starting to get awkward. “Come on,” I said. “Let’s clean this up.”
By the time we got the towels shaken out in the back yard and into the hamper, the sky was still dark, but I felt like morning was just around the corner. We went into my room to listen to some music and ended up lying side by side with the volume turned down low.
I actually fell asleep. I know I did, because when the phone rang, it woke me. The album was still playing so I hadn’t dozed off for long. The pillow was damp and cold under my still-damp hair. The phone was hard to pick up at first.
It was Carynne. “Wakey, wakey. Time to make the donuts.”
(Coming tomorrow: a “liner notes” post before the tour gets underway…!)