We had a suite with two attached bedrooms, while the other bands were down the hall a little: Topher and Magenta in one room, Rol in another. MuchMusic had delivered a rather large fruit and candy basket and two bottles of wine to the suite. I didn’t see any reason why all seven of us shouldn’t break into that except maybe 11:30 in the morning is a little early for wine.
It was white wine, does that make it okay?
The suite had a big dining room table in it, and we sat around it. There were only four wine glasses so me and Bart drank out of coffee mugs. Chris actually decided to pass. When I wasn’t looking, Bart ordered “real food,” too, so sandwiches and soft drinks arrived shortly afterward. I don’t actually remember anything we talked about. The point is that these guys (and one gal) seemed reasonably nice. That was a huge relief.
Then the first call from the lobby from a reporter trying to find us came in, and we invited him up, and Topher and Magenta made themselves scarce. I was a little surprised that he kissed her when they got up from the table.
I think I stared. After they left the room, Ziggy murmured in my ear, “Husband and wife.”
“They’re married. Don’t act so surprised.”
“I’m not sur–okay, so I’m oblivious and no one told me. How do you know?”
“It says so in the liner notes on the cassette.” He yawned and his cheeks were flushed from drinking the wine too quickly. “So who is this coming up?”
“I… um. I’m not sure.”
Ziggy rolled his eyes at me, then went to open the door.
That started a parade of like half a dozen reporters and writers of various stripes, some male, some female. Some wanted to talk to me, some to Ziggy, some to both of us, some to all four of us, in various combinations. Rol talked to a bunch of them, too, while they were waiting around. They were supposed to each get a half hour, I think, but it turned into more like just a bigger and bigger group as the afternoon wore on.
One of the last to arrive caught my eye the moment he walked into the room. I’d learned by then that the term for a guy who looked and dressed like him was a “twink.” He was poured into his jeans, had on a pastel-colored Polo shirt that was just a little too tight for his gym-worked pecs, and a single diamond stud in one ear. His hair was just longer than a crew cut and had a sun-lightened look that I doubted was natural.
Ziggy’s ears pricked up at his entrance, too, and he caught my eye for an unreadable couple of moments. The visual equivalent of elbowing me in the ribs, I guess. At the time I was telling tour anecdotes to the woman from “Now,” which she’d described as Toronto’s version of the Boston Phoenix.
“The eyepatch is very Bowie-esque,” she said.
“It is?” I couldn’t remember Bowie wearing one, but he was largely before my time and I mostly knew him from the radio, not films or photographs.
“He went through a sort of space-pirate phase, I think,” she said. “And I think it was his other eye.”
Ziggy got up and showed the man with the diamond earring to the soft drinks. In the end, I didn’t get to talk to the guy at all, which is probably just as well. Intrigued as I was, I was also hearing warning bells ringing in the back of my head.
The next person to arrive was a publicist from MuchMusic, who took charge at that point, and I was somewhat relieved. She was in an olive pants suit, very stylish with a cream-colored blouse and her hair long and loose. She introduced herself as Antonia, which I remembered because I told her our security guard, who wasn’t present at the moment, was named Antonio. She said I could call her Toni. I would guess she was about thirty.
She gave us a timetable to get dressed and said there would be food where we were going. She reminded us we were likely to be filmed/video’d and to dress accordingly. She gave invitations to all the various reporters there and then kicked them out. Thankfully, since I don’t know that I would have had the balls or the foresight to do it.
I helped Ziggy get dressed. He was doing pretty well, now, in that department, but he still couldn’t really rewrap his own bandages. His hand was fine. The deep burn was where his sleeve had caught fire, on his forearm. He had about six inches of it still bandaged.
He did his own makeup, and I sat there on the edge of the large bathtub and watched while he did.
“So how was the interview with Mr. Diamond Stud?” I asked.
“If you’re worrying that I outed you, I didn’t,” he answered, as he leaned close to the mirror to line his eyes.
“Just trying to make conversation,” I said.
“You don’t have to lie about it, Daron. I know you worry.” He switched to his other eye. “But he was from the gay newspaper.”
“Color me surprised.”
“It’s called Xtra and at first I didn’t realize it’s a gay paper, but eventually he told me. They do a lot of arts and entertainment coverage.” He picked up the black lipstick and licked his lips, staring at his reflection.
What he said was completely innocuous, but my neck suddenly began to prickle. “So what did you tell him?”
“Oh, you know. This and that.”
“No. That was too much dirty laundry. He’s writing a fluff piece.”
Ziggy turned and looked at me. “You’re starting to worry.”
“Don’t keep me in suspense, what did you tell him?”
He looked away. “Nothing really.”
“You only say that when you mean ‘something really.'”
“Look. I have no reason to sabotage my own career. I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that a leading man in Hollywood has to be completely heterosexual.”
“That sounds a lot like you’re defending yourself. What did you say, Zig?”
“It was just a trial balloon, you know. See if he would take the bait.”
“Bait?” My voice was high.
“He might not even use it. Who knows.” He picked up the lipstick again, opened the case and extended it, then rolled it back in and put it down without using it. “I told him about that whole thing when I was a kid, about how I was going to marry my neighbors, the Santucci twins.”
“The whole thing?”
“Okay, not the bit about Anthony giving me handjobs behind the school.”
I stared at him and he turned to face me again, leaning against the countertop. “What? I just said I didn’t tell him that part.”
It took me a second to find my voice. “You told me it was the girl who fooled around with you later.”
“Oh.” He didn’t seem taken aback by this one bit. “Well, maybe it was her and I just can’t remember.”
“I told you they were twins, right?”
“They weren’t identical twins, Zig! Not if they were brother and sister!”
He scratched his head. “Huh. You’re right. I might’ve told you the wrong thing. I was probably trying to set you at ease.”
“How is lying to me going to set me at ease?” I stood up.
“I was trying to make you think I’m more interested in women and less interested in men, I think,” he said calmly. “I didn’t want you to feel threatened.”
My cheeks were as hot right then as if I’d just had another half a bottle of wine.
“Daron, seriously, I’ve been trying to take it really, really, really slow with you.”
I gripped him around his upper arms with my hands. “Zig. Take what really slow with me.”
This close to him, I could see how he tried to keep still, how his lips trembled and moved while some internal fight went on. He swallowed.
I think if he’d said “Our relationship,” I would’ve shaken him. Hard.
But that isn’t what he said. What he said was as careful and as contrived as anything he ever said, picking his way carefully through the minefield that was my fucking issues. But I think what he said was honest, too.
“Building the trust we should’ve had from the beginning.” His eyes searched mine. “I know. It’s a mismatch. You don’t trust easily and my style is hard to trust. But when we do it, when we trust each other, look what happens.”
“Um, what happens?”
“On stage we trust each other completely. And it’s magic. It works. When we’re writing together, it works. We don’t shoot each other down all the time anymore because we’ve built that. I’m not afraid of you anymore.”
That set me back. I didn’t let go but I did sort of toss my head. “You were never afraid of me. I was afraid of you.”
“You were afraid of how you felt about me. And rightly so, because I used it to control you and hurt you. Because I was afraid of giving you control, artistic and creative control. I’m not afraid of that anymore, Daron. I trust what we do artistically. I trust you to give me my due. And I trust you’re not going to do to me what I did to you, no matter how…” He paused to take a shaky breath. “No matter how vulnerable I make myself to you. It works because we know each other intimately. Intimacy and trust are the two things we’ve got that make it work. I’m not afraid of that. I’m not afraid of my feelings. The only thing I’m afraid of is fucking it all up.”
I think maybe I would have absorbed what he said better if then he hadn’t bit me on the mouth. I can’t even call it a kiss. Wait. Maybe I bit him. I don’t know.
I pushed myself away what felt like a long time later, and we were both panting. I could see the bulge in the stretch pants he was wearing.
“I’m afraid of fucking it up, too,” I said.
“Then… then…” He had to clear his throat to catch his breath. “Then we’re on the same page.”
A knock came on the door. “Ten minutes,” said Bart’s voice.
“Got it,” I called back. Ziggy and I stared at each other. Now was not the time to act on the lust pulsing through my veins nor to argue about whose fault it was that my veins felt that way. “Be right out.”
Ziggy turned back to the mirror then, and took out his lipstick, and painted his mouth as black as a burn.
(Props where it’s due. Sting made that analogy long before I did. -d.)
Look what arrived today:
Now we’re just waiting for the actual shipment of the BOOKS!! Woooo!!!
Quick preview photo of the one proof copy I got in advance: