277. Master of Puppets

I stopped worrying about Ziggy before our opening song was over, because my mind went somewhere else. It was often like that, like my offstage brain turned off and my onstage brain took over, and the two of them didn’t really exchange notes before the handoff.

Zig was on. His pitch was on. Or maybe that was the great acoustics of the place. I threw myself in to that first solo and didn’t even realize I was singing while playing until I wondered why afterward Ziggy was grinning at me in an odd way. I didn’t even know if my mic was on or not (probably not since I wasn’t cued to sing that part) but he could hear it, see it.

The flowers and stuffed animals weren’t quite as thick as they’d been on the coast. It was only after I nearly tripped over one in the transition to our first encore that I wondered, what happens to all of them after we leave? I didn’t think our equipment truck was slowly filling up with them.

I asked about it later, when we were packing out. “Hey, Petey, what happens to all the teddy bears and stuff?”

He laughed. “Probably depends on the venue. Why, you want to collect ’em for Toys for Tots?”

“Well, that’d be better than throwing them away, wouldn’t it?” Giving them to a charity hadn’t occurred to me but now that I’d thought of it, I wondered who I had to talk to to make sure it happened.

I told this to Ziggy, who was the next person I saw. “I saved a couple,” he said.

“You did?”

“From that first show. I had them in my bag. Now they’re in my bunk.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope.” He grinned.

Later, in the bus, after we’d gotten rolling, he pulled back the curtain of his bunk and showed me. There were half a dozen of them, and he picked up three: all white, two polar bears and a unicorn.

It being Ziggy, he had started “tattooing” his stuffed animals using a Sharpie. He got the magic marker out and sat the animals on the back dinette table. I could see he had been working on putting a version of the “Candlelight” logo on the back hindquarter of one of the bears already.

I sat down with him, a little bit fascinated watching him draw. I have no artistic ability at all. I can’t draw, can’t paint. Ziggy, on the other hand, had been in art school. I knew very little about art school but I supposed it was like music school, that unless you had some modicum of talent for drawing you probably had no shot to get in.

Ziggy had more than a modicum.

“Make one for me,” I said, when he set the bear aside and started decorating the unicorn’s face.

He didn’t look up from his concentration, but said, “Sure. Pick one out next time.”

Just then Chris came out of the head. “Don’t you feel silly, playing with toys like a kid?” he said.

“Should I?”

“People are going to think you’re infantile.”

“I’ll start to care what people think of me about the time pigs learn to fly,” Zig answered, still not looking up. He started to draw a pair of wings on the third bear, who already had designs around his “wrists” and “ankles.” “Wasn’t the whole point of not getting a real job and playing music instead that we don’t have to grow up, anyway?”

Chris just huffed and went to his bunk. It was going to be a long drive to Dallas.


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