When I woke up we were at the airport, which was confusing since I didn’t remember the bus moving, and I didn’t remember people getting on board, but there we were in a different place with some different people.
It had been decided that only the lead singer of the Blissmen was flying ahead while the rest of them took the slow boat. He was a rail-thin British guy named Rol, “rhymes with Paul,” with messy, frizzy hair that looked like he was losing it already, even though he was only twenty-five. His accent was so thick I couldn’t understand anything he said until I was more awake.
Wednesday’s Child also sent only a portion of their personnel. Their two principals were apparently a diminutive, gothy woman named Magenta, whose hair was dyed to match, and a clove-smoking guy in prerequisite black who Carynne mistook for Colin at one point. His actual name was Topher, and I could understand his accent much more easily. Later he told me he was from Liverpool, and then did a dead-on impression of each of the four Beatles in turn. But that was later.
Meanwhile Carynne had decided she was NOT coming with us after all. “You can handle getting yourself to the hotel, right? That’s it. A publicist from MuchMusic will show up to get you to their party tonight, and the rest of the press are all coming to you at the hotel in the afternoon,” she had told me, and then wrote down the hotel information three times, giving it to me twice, once in my pocket and once in the Ovation’s case, and one to Bart.
The actual getting-to-know-you bit with the new people didn’t happen until we were in the gate area, waiting for the flight, by which point I was more awake, or at least better caffeinated. Bart & Ziggy were off looking at magazines, and Chris and Rol had struck up a conversation standing at the window looking at the tarmac. I was sitting next to Topher at that point, with Magenta on his other side. She hadn’t said a word. Her main mode of communication seemed to be glaring sullenly at the world through very heavily painted eyes.
“So this is the part where to be polite I’m supposed to tell you how much I liked your set last night,” I said, holding out my hand. “Except that I missed it entirely while trying to make sure my bandages were on straight and all that. I’m Daron.”
He shook my hand. “‘tsalright. First show’s always crap anyway. Next one’ll be better. So what happened there, eh? Pyrotechnics they said?”
I forced myself to pause a second and consider what to tell him and what to leave out. “The whole saga’s a long story, but the short version is our previous openers were kind of… nuts. One night they snuck gerbs onto the stage, and one of them didn’t go off. Until it did.”
“Ah, right, right.” He put one hand over his eye in sympathy. “Terrifying. You’re going to be all right, though?”
I was wearing the eye patch at the time. “Seems like it. I’m putting drops in it twice a day and I don’t really need the eye patch now except in bright light. And my hand itches.” And it still hurt to make a fist or play the guitar, but I didn’t say that.
“God, I can imagine. I burned myself once with a blowtorch while working in a machine shop.” He showed me the scar on his left palm. “Once it started to itch, I kept tearing it open…. Agh, but you don’t want to hear that. Nice subject for conversation, that is. So sorry.”
I chuckled. “That’s all right. I’m not squeamish. Although the more we talk about it, the itchier it gets.”
“Ah fuck, take something for it then. Aspirin, something.”
“Will aspirin actually help?”
“I swear it will.” He turned to Magenta. “Madge, have you got some?”
She answered him with a disdainful look, but then pulled a bottle from her large, black leather shoulder bag.
Topher handed it to me, and I took two pills out and put them in my pocket, figuring to take them after they gave us drinks in the plane.
“So how’s the tour been otherwise? You were out cold earlier. Tiring, is it?” he went on.
“I guess? It’s our first time going out with this much support. It’s actually less tiring than the time we did our own driving.”
“Well, this country is absolutely, f’cking massive, isn’t it? Sixteen hour drive between gigs! Twenty hours! London to Glasgow’s only six hours. If I drove from London for twenty hours I could get to Rome. To Yugoslavia, for fuck’s sake.” He was laughing, but I think he meant what he said.
“Well, I’m one of those geography-challenged Americans,” I said. “I have no idea where Yugoslavia is.”
“It’s almost all the way to Greece,” he said, waving his hands. “It doesn’t matter. The point is it’s far.”
“Yeah, when we drove ourselves we mostly didn’t… oh, well, there was that one night we drove from Colorado to San Francisco. We had to give up and get a motel partway through or someone was going to fall asleep at the wheel.” I seemed to remember that was the night Ziggy was really petulant. He hadn’t acted like that in a while.
“I’m just as happy to leave it to the professionals,” Topher said, still waving his hands. “Plus you drive on the wrong side of the road here. That would drive me batty as it is.”
Magenta prodded him in the ribs and handed him a pack of cigarettes.
“Ah, right. F’cking ban. Do you–?” He offered the pack to me but at the shake of my head pulled it back quickly. “I won’t be but a minute.”
He rushed off to smoke. I had kind of forgotten the whole thing about smoking being banned on flights shorter than two hours since it hadn’t really affected me.
Ziggy plopped down in the chair Topher had vacated. “Magenta,” he said, “have you been introduced to Daron yet?”
She spoke. “Not properly, no.”
“Magenta Cummings, may I introduce you to Daron Moondog, né Marks, band leader and guitar player extraordinaire?” he said, and she held her hand across him toward me. I shook it as he went on. “Daron, this is Magenta.”
“Pleased to meet you,” I said automatically. Once upon a time my mother must’ve programmed me what to say.
“Now check out what we found at the newsstand,” Ziggy said, and pulled out the latest Musician.
On page 46 was a half-page interview with me. “But I just talked to that guy like a week ago,” I said.
“This had to be a different guy,” Ziggy said drily, his finger pointing to the byline.
Very different. It was Jonathan’s. “Oh jeez, how did I not notice that?”
Ziggy snorted. “Your powers of observation get keener all the time. But seriously, there’s a bunch of clips and stuff in the magazines. Bart bought all of them, I think.”
I didn’t get to read much before they were calling our flight. The story that started on page 45 was a thing about Mark Sandman and Morphine, in which J. described the odd showcase we’d seen that night at Venus de Milo. There was no mention of me in that article, but they must have needed filler for the rest of the page and he cooked up a little story based on conversations we’d had.
That could’ve been kind of privacy-invading, but I read what was there and it was all really innocuous, mostly gear talk and opinions about the guitar and its place in the direction popular music was going. I remembered saying the things he attributed to me, though I didn’t remember being quite so coherent. Jonathan was good at editing out the rambling bullshit and distractions from the way I talked. I never talked so much except when I was with him.
I did sort of wonder why he didn’t tell me the article was going to appear, then realized maybe he did tell me, but maybe I was on painkillers and didn’t remember. Or maybe he didn’t want to tell me when I was out of it.
I decided to try to make it through the next show without the pills. We had tonight off, just the party, and then tomorrow was the next show. I’d wrap it really tight and it’d be fine.
They took the guitar from me at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the door of the plane, and promised it would be returned to me the same way. I wasn’t worried that much. The Ovations are tough and the road case it was in was really strong. Like, you should be able to drop it from a second story window and bounce it on pavement, and the guitar would be fine. Not that I had tried that or anything, I mean, why tempt fate? But it’d be fine in the hold of a puddle jumper.
I think we were only in the air maybe an hour. Barely enough time to get some ginger ale and take the aspirin before we were landing again.
Waiting in line at customs was far too boring for me to feel anxious about it. We each went to different lines. They didn’t even look in the guitar case. I was one of the first ones through, actually, so I waited to count heads on the other side. Seven: the four of us, Rol, Topher, and Magenta. It was weird not having Carynne there.
We split into two taxis to go to the hotel, which was a big high rise not far from the Skydome and the thing I called the Space Needle but was told by our cab driver, no, that’s in Seattle. This one was the CN Tower and I was informed we could take a tour of it if we wanted.
Check in at the hotel went smoothly. It was still weird not having Carynne there.
(This is one of those songs that every guitar player in 1981 had to learn. Summer before I started high school. Points if you know why it’s the title of this chapter. -d.)