(Saturday bonus post! This is the one I owe you guys from last week! -ctan).
Philadelphia put all its stadiums together. On the south edge of the city, the football, baseball, and hockey stadiums were all plopped down in the middle of a huge expanse of parking lot. The hockey arena was called the Spectrum and it was between the other two, and it was where we were playing.
It was bigger than some of the arenas we’d been in recently, which usually hit around 10,000. This was 18,000-plus. Supposedly they had this way of setting it up for half the capacity, and we were originally supposed to have that configuration. They thought with the show at Garden State Arts Center the next day, less than a two-hour drive away, there was no way we were selling it out.
They were wrong.
Between the traffic and the detour, we were late, and the bus pulled into a parking lot already staked out by our fan club. There was no time to go and greet them then, though, since we needed to get to our soundcheck and I wanted it to be a long one.
It was. We took the time to play around with two covers as a foursome. I know it meant holding up the crew and the other bands, but sometimes you have to.
When that was done, Ziggy begged me to go with him to see the fans, and so I did, and we autographed a lot of stuff before Antonio made us go back inside. It was a gorgeous day out, mid-eighties and dry, a great beach day if you were the sort of person who went to beaches.
Inside, it was concrete and bad carpeting and more reporters who hadn’t gotten their turn before, and the winners of a radio station contest. And then Ziggy and I went into the men’s room to do his warm-up routine.
“Why do we always do this in the bathroom?” I asked.
“Because everyone’s voice sounds best in here,” he said. I couldn’t really argue with that.
The show went well. All anxieties receded before the onslaught of real-time performance. For a concrete arena, the sound was pretty good. Louis told me later The Doors recorded a live album there. Ziggy had no trouble filling up the place with his voice or his presence.
Somehow we both ended up on the other bands’ bus on the way back to the city. Listen to me, that’s such a New York/New Jersey thing to say. “The city” means New York City. All other cities are just cities, not “the” city.
We both drank too much, I think, in too short a time. We arrived back at the hotel in a state I would describe as “plastered.”
Maybe we were self-medicating. I don’t know. All I can tell you is that there was no talk of sleeping pills or anything before we passed out. At least, I’m fairly sure we both passed out. And by passed out I don’t actually mean we were dangerously unconscious, just asleep.
Carynne woke us at the crack of dawn for a radio show. I was so tired I felt physically ill. This time it was Ziggy who took care of me, though, forcing me back to bed and going to the interview by himself.
The extra two hours of sleep were worth it. I felt much more human the next time I sat up.
I went to the restaurant to see if they had a quick buffet. They didn’t, but Digger waved me over. I was too tired to protest. I sat down with him.
I was expecting that kind of false cheerfulness he often displayed. Instead, he looked serious. He waited until I gave the waitress an order before he said anything, though.
“There’s going to be a ton of BNC brass at the show,” he said.
“Today’s show? Or you mean at the Garden?” I didn’t think record company execs would leave Manhattan if they didn’t have to.
“At all the shows. This whole week. You.” He pointed at me. “You need to be on your best behavior.”
“You know what I’m talking about.”
I was slow that morning. It took me a second to think of what he meant. I was blinking and trying to think of what to say when he went on.
“That means loverboy had better be on his best behavior, too, if he doesn’t want his name to be mud around these people.”
He could have been talking about Ziggy or Jonathan when he said that, but he meant Jonathan. “There won’t be any scenes like there were in Atlanta,” I assured him. Did I feel like something of a wimp for not standing up for J? Not really. I agreed. “He apologized.”
“Okay.” Digger took a swig of his coffee, then set the mug down so the waitress could refill it when she brought a cup for me, too. “Okay. So long as we understand each other.”
“I think we do.” I mean, no, I was never going to understand him, but at least we were on the same page when it came to gay public displays of affection in a business context.
“I mean, Christ, I had to read Ziggy the riot act to get him in line…”
Gee, so did I. “The riot act is not necessary. And don’t think you have to talk to Jonathan. I will. I don’t want you alienating an important member of the press.”
Digger laughed and took out a cigarette, but fiddled with it instead of lighting it. “You’re afraid your boyfriend won’t like me.”
This was about the least comfortable I’d been talking to him in years. I nearly bolted. But I was hungry and I could see the waitress coming. Crap. “You’re full of shit.”
He grinned now like he was winning an argument. “See? That’s touching, kiddo. I’m glad you care.”
Oh my god, I almost threw a fork at him right there. How the fuck was it that suddenly Digger was more comfortable with me and Jonathan having a thing going on than I was? Or, at least, more comfortable discussing it? I was spared replying to that because then my breakfast was put down in front of me and I worked on devouring it and ignoring how red my cheeks were.
“So how do you like the hotel, eh?” he went on. “I figured giving everyone their own rooms made the most sense. That way if you want to do anything behind closed doors, you’re all set. We got an unbelievable deal too, did I tell you? On taking the whole floor. I told them we’re a wedding party.”
“I thought weddings usually got marked up, not down.”
“Ah, see, but then there’s the whole bit about the renovation. So we can’t have the wedding here.”
“Since the function space is all under renovation, so they discounted the rooms for inconveniencing us, having to move the wedding to another hotel.”
“But we’re not having a wedding…”
“I know. But they don’t.”
“Digger, it’s obvious that we’re not a wedding group.”
“They don’t care. I have a buddy in the catering department. That’s how I knew. Don’t sweat it. We’re getting like half price, the whole thing for under ten-thou.”
“And it would have been twenty-thousand dollars normally?”
I wasn’t sure if the fact that the lie was a five-figure lie instead of merely four- or three- like usual was supposed to make me accept it better or make me feel worse. There was a time when ten grand would have been enough for me to live on for a year.
I shut up about it, still feeling outraged about how he’d baited me about Jonathan. I had no idea how I was supposed to feel about that. He’d done it to get a rise out of me, and he’d succeeded, I guess. If I was dating a girl, you know, he’d probably give me shit, too, so maybe it wasn’t so bad…? But I hated it anyway. I felt picked on.
But I’d had plenty of practice ignoring being picked on in my life. I had other things to worry about. Like the actual show, and more press, and more everything. It was a miracle I even had a chance to eat.
And by noon we were headed to the Garden State Arts Center.
This time Digger was in our bus when we drove past “our exit.” This time Courtney didn’t say anything. And Digger and I looked at each other and I could feel us both making the decision not to say a word.