I have no idea if I’ve mentioned earplugs before. Bart and I started wearing them back in school, whenever we went to shows, and as soon as we started playing venues bigger than the coffeehouse, we wore them to play out, too. Christian got converted not long after joining us. I can’t remember when Ziggy started to wear them. He preferred the kind that went deep in and couldn’t be seen easily. I preferred the yellow kind, the cylindrical ones.
They didn’t stick out much, but at the end of sound check my ear ached a little when I took the headset off.
Our sound lead’s name was Reese, and I wasn’t sure if that was first or last name. Didn’t matter, I suppose. He was a skinny guy who chain-smoked when he wasn’t working. “Ow,” I said to him, showing him the headset and pulling on my ear.
“Hm, I can switch it to the other side,” he said, examining the mic and headphone. “That’ll probably just make that one hurt, too, but it’s probably worth experimenting.”
“I guess. My two ears aren’t shaped exactly the same, I would bet.”
“Yeah. I don’t want to make the head piece any looser because I’m afraid you’ll just lose the whole rig that way.” He bent it just a little. “It doesn’t have much padding. We could try padding it out more. Or replacing it with an over-the-ear sort of phone. Like the kind that goes over the whole thing.” He cupped his hand over his ear in case I didn’t know what he meant.
“Do I actually need it to work as a monitor?” I asked. “It’s not like I won’t hear myself sing.”
“Eh. Are you taking stage tech cues, at all?”
“No. Louis has a mic to direct the light crew but that’s not for me.”
“Then my guess is you don’t need that piece, except that without it, the mic won’t stay in the right place. Hm.” He walked away with the rig still in his hand, kind of muttering to himself.
I went back to the green room while the opening band did their sound check. I as picked through the spread, which was about what I expected. I found myself eating more salami and less baloney. Haha, yeah, clearly that meant it was time to catch up with my father.
Digger was across the room, chatting up some venue employee. I wiped my fingers on a napkin in case I had to shake hands with anyone, and went over. But the employee broke off and conferred with someone else, leaving me free and clear to talk to dear old dad.
“Give me some good news,” I said.
“The good news is you sold this place out in like two hours. The bad news is there wasn’t room in the schedule to add a second date here.” His jacket was unbuttoned and he searched the inside pocket for something he didn’t find.
“There isn’t? I thought we have tomorrow off.”
“They’ve got something else in here tomorrow. Point is, though, we could loop back around here at the end of the tour.” He leaned closer, as the venue employee got out of earshot. “A better idea is we loop back here and play somewhere bigger. That’d make it worth our while to cross the country again.”
I sort of wondered why we didn’t add a date before opening night, but maybe the venue was already booked then, too. I didn’t ask.
“How’s LA?” I asked, figuring a little small talk wouldn’t kill me.
“Not bad,” he answered. “How’s Boston? Carynne said you’re fixing up the place.”
“A little. Having some work done on the place while we’re out of town. Gutters and stuff.”
“How’d you know your gutters needed work?”
“The house inspector brought it up in the report before we bought the place. Chris kind of turned that report into a to-do list.”
“Huh, you going to sell the place?”
“Hm? Not as far as I know. What’s the point of fixing it up if we’re going to move?”
“Well, keep an eye on the market. If real estate booms, you could sell the place for a lot more than you bought it for, and more than your improvements cost, too. Houses can be a nice investment.”
“But then we’d have to find somewhere else to live. Hardly seems worth the hassle, plus moving.”
“Suit yourself.” He shrugged and we wandered in opposite directions. Him toward the food, me toward Ziggy who was holding up an eyeliner pencil and staring at me with a sort of sheepish but expectant look on his face.