The crowd that night was just as aggressive as the night before. And something else new happened. We got booed.
Not a resounding boo, you understand. We were still the headliner, but we were in Megaton’s hometown, and when they were getting off the stage after their set–which was a full hour-long set with one encore song–their singer said something like “Coming up, Moondog Three,” and while some people cheered, some people, especially from the pit in the front, booed.
That wasn’t the end of it, though. When we took the stage there was a smattering of boos, too. Ziggy didn’t take kindly to that. There was a tongue of stage in the center that crossed the pit and Ziggy spent a lot of the show on the end of it, singing like he was taunting the crowd. There was only a little moshing during our set, very little compared to earlier, so I thought maybe everything would calm down.
That was before Ziggy launched himself into the crowd during “Grenadier.”
We were both at the tip of the tongue, and I was in the middle of a fill, not a full solo, and he locked eyes with someone in the crowd. I didn’t see who. One second, he was on the edge of the stage, the next, he dove in like he’d been on the edge of a swimming pool. I looked into the crowd, half ready to leap in and use the Strat like a battle-axe and beat people off him myself if necessary, but venue security were right on it, over the wall like horses in a steeplechase and apparently not afraid to be pretty rough with people.
They hauled him back on the stage, his shirt torn and his face scratched, and a wild gleam in his eye. Colin had to run out and give him another microphone: the one he’d been holding was hopelessly lost.
I wanted to scream at him “What the fuck was that about!” but this wasn’t the time.
I waited until we were in the wings before the encore for that and I’m not exaggerating when I say I screamed it, so he could hear me.
“What?” he asked back with a shrug.
This wasn’t the time either. People were actually cheering for an encore, so maybe it wasn’t all bad. Or maybe all the Megaton-partisans had left. Whatever.
We went out and did our usual four song single encore. And that seemed like enough, and then we got the hell out of Houston.
By the time we were in the bus, I didn’t feel like screaming at him anymore. By then I could see a bruise coming up on the side of one eye, though, too.
“Please don’t do that again,” I said, when just the two of us were sitting in the front lounge, everyone else in the back or in bunks already.
“Not my best idea, I admit,” he said. “But I just… snapped.”
“Like a rubberband?”
“There was a guy… fuck, it doesn’t matter. Get me some ice, will you?”
I dug in the freezer and stuck some cubes in a plastic grocery bag. He pressed it against his face.
“There was a guy?” I prompted.
“I said it doesn’t matter.” He looked out the window instead of at me. “Well, maybe it does. I don’t know. For all I know that guy does that to every band he doesn’t like to see what they do.”
“What did he do? Was he holding up a sign or something?”
“I don’t even know why I looked at him. I somehow kept locking eyes with him and then he’d…” Ziggy sighed. “Tell me you’re not going to freak out when I tell you this.”
“How can I tell you that, when I don’t know what you’re going to tell me?”
“That’s just my passive aggressive way of saying don’t freak out, and if you do, it’s not my fault. It’s not supposed to make sense.”
“Anyway. The guy kept doing this.” He put the bag of ice down, and sort of mimed something that at first looked like him holding a mic up to his mouth. But then the rhythmic bulging of his cheek made it obvious he was miming sucking cock.
I’d be lying if I said the sight wasn’t a little hot. But the discussion was serious. “So this guy was basically non-verbally calling you a cocksucker?”
“Yep. When I couldn’t take it anymore I just clocked him across the face with my fist–the hand holding the mic.” He shrugged. “I think I was only half aware of leaping off the stage to do it.”
“I don’t think the other guys around him really knew what was going on, or I would’ve probably had it a lot worse.” He shrugged again and stuck the ice back on his temple. “I don’t think it was actually a comment on my sexuality, you know. More like a general, lame put-down. That’s the best they can do if they think we’re not as manly as the other guys, I guess. I don’t know.”
“Yeah.” I thought about it. “Cocksucker” was one of those terms some guys threw around to just mean everything from “idiot” to “inferior” when they weren’t actually trying to bash someone for being gay. But then there were the times when it was used more pointedly. “Promise me something?”
“How can I promise you if I don’t know what it is?”
I put my hand down on the table like a challenge. “I’m serious. Promise me something.”
He put his hand on top of mine with a short laugh. “Okay, whatever, Daron. What is it?”
“Promise me you aren’t going to start wearing a T-shirt that says ‘cocksucker’ on it.”
He nearly dropped the ice pack as he burst out laughing. “Shit. You know me too well.”
“Promise!” I may have squeezed his hand a little too hard.
“Okay, okay! I promise! I promise!”
If only it was always so easy to get him to promise me things. Or to stick to them.