We walked toward the Sunset, though if it was really crowded there we might keep going until we found somewhere quieter. The Sunset had many many beers to offer, and the result was usually many many people trying to get in.
“You hungry?” he asked. His feathered hair fluttered as he walked.
“Carynne took me through Chinatown on the way from Logan,” I said. “But you know me. I can always eat.”
“I’m trying to be really cognizant of my dependence on everyday crutches,” he said, and I knew he’d been in therapy because normally you wouldn’t hear Christian use a word like “cognizant.”
“Food’s a crutch?” I asked, trying to understand.
“What? No. Well, not for me. I was thinking of the beer. Like, you know, do I really want a beer? Or am I thinking it’s necessary to use it as a crutch to give me permission to say what I gotta say?” He shrugged. “Thing is, I don’t know.”
“Is it bad to use it as a crutch if at least you say what you wanted to?”
“See, that’s the thing, it isn’t necessarily bad, but I’m suppose to be aware of it, at least.” With Christian’s accent, the word “aware” was more like awehh.
“Well, for what it’s worth, I don’t feel like I need a beer to hear it, whatever it is. But I totally wouldn’t mind having one.”
“Okay, cool. Yeah, what the hell. Let’s get a beer because we like beer, not because we had to.”
“Now you’re talking.”
We ended up at a sports bar a few more blocks down where things were pretty quiet. It wasn’t a game night, I guess. We sat at one end of the bar next to some kind of a lottery machine, and got Sam Adams on draft, and then Christian said, “You want to start or should I start?”
“I think you should start,” I said.
“See, thing is… I’m not sure where to start.”
I reminded myself I was the boss. “Okay, well, how about we start with what was up with Lacey there? She was convinced I was coming home to beat your brains in, which frankly is pretty baffling. Do I come across as a really violent person? Plus there’s the fact I’m half your size, and also the fact that I’m not angry at you in the first place.”
“Yeah, I heard some of that when I was coming down the stairs. I did not send her down there, by the way. She got that wild hair across her ass all on her own.” He took a gulp of the beer. “Let me back up a little and see if I can figure out where she’s getting that from. I’ve been working with my therapist on a lot of shit, you know, not just drug dependency. Crap about my father and… oh, maybe that’s it.”
“Just the other day I told her a whole thing that I figured out in my last appointment about how when I lived at home I was always worried my father was going to come home and beat the shit out of me.”
“Well, either he was drunk so he had some drunken reason, or I’d done something bad like dented the car, failed English, knocked down somebody’s mailbox, joined a band… the usual.”
“Oh.” I’d meant why did he worry that, not why did your old man beat you multiple times. It was a big reminder that Christian’s reality and mine were different.
“And I think she decided that meant I was trying to tell her without telling her that this was what I was worried about with you. What I actually said about you is that I had no idea how you were doing or what you were feeling. Which is maybe a parallel to my dad, in that I never had any clue what he was thinking, but jeezus girl, that’s a leap.” He shook his head. “Anyway. Therapy’s grueling. It absolutely sucks. But it’s necessary. And I think it’s helping.”
“That’s good.” I sipped my own beer, which was the “seasonal” Sam Adams so it tasted different from the usual but, you know, still tasted like beer.
“And it’s weird, because what I’m about to tell you is what a moron I am, and you’re going to ask how the hell can therapy help your self-esteem if it makes you realize what a moron you are? But, you know, it helps you not make that mistake again.”
“What are you a moron about?”
“About you. I let a lot of shit get in the way of what I know to be true, what I know in my heart.” Or as Christian put it, “hahht.” “I let a lot of bullshit about gays, which all came straight from my father’s bullshit mouth, so I should have known better, get all blocked up in my head, and get in the way of reality. Which is that Daron, I really feel like…” He paused for a quick sip. It’s okay man, crutches are for leaning on. Just keep going. “I really feel like you’re the brother I never had.”
Wow. Yeah. No wonder he was scared to death to say it. He was clearly scared to death I was about to tell him to fuck off.
I didn’t. “Thanks, man.”
“And believe me,” he continued, his shoulders slumping in relief, “I know it isn’t like I’m not awehh that family stuff is messy and complicated and not always good for you, or me. But, you know, after all we been through… you know.”
“I do. I understand exactly what you mean.” My own shoulders relaxed, too. Being in a band was a lot like being in a complicated family business, even if your actual family wasn’t involved. “I hope… I hope you understand now why there’s no way in hell I was kicking you out and replacing you unless I had no other choice. And why I was so… ripshit that you seemed like you were taking the side of the actual morons.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I was a total idiot about the whole thing, about Megaton, about… all of it. Thank fucking god though I had the balls to tell Dave to stuff it.” He took a larger gulp of his beer and wiped his lip. “Understand that I don’t think drugs are any excuse. But when you’re on drugs you don’t think straight. Wait, I said that wrong. When I’m on drugs, I can’t see reality for what it is. I was convinced you were all out to get me, for one thing. And the thing with the explosion? I was convinced I was next. No wonder I couldn’t play. I was looking under the riser for a bomb before every set.”
“I know, it sounds so crazy, doesn’t it? But that’s how bent the mind can get. I… I wouldn’t blame you for getting rid of somebody that crazy. I mean, even if you’re family, sometimes you just have to show somebody the door.”
Like I’d just shown Digger? But we weren’t talking about him right now. “But you’re not crazy. You were on drugs. Right? I mean, I don’t know the technical definitions of these things obviously…”
“Well, one thing I wanted to ask you about was if you and Carynne would go to this orientation thing at the center. They can explain a lot better than I can. I mean, I’m clean now, but there can be longterm withdrawal crap that can come up.”
“What kind of crap?”
“Depends on the person. Depression, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, that kind of thing.” He didn’t sound too worried about it, though. “So far so good, I think, but still.”
“Have you ever had a panic attack?”
“You know? I don’t think so. I’ve gotten a little spazzed out here or there, but not the full blown hyperventilating and stuff people talk about.”
“I’ve had that.”
He looked at me from under his bangs. “Seriously?”
“Yeah, without drugs. Only a couple of times in my life.” I shrugged. “Not a big deal. You’ll know if you’re having one, anyway.”
“Hopefully I’ll never find out.”
We sat drinking in silence for a little while. Then I said, “But yeah, I’d love to go to an orientation. Sounds like a useful thing for me to know. Occupational hazard and all.”
“I know. Knowing what I do now, part of me says, shit, every touring band should be forced to sit through drug education before going on the road.”
“Or dating a supermodel with a coke habit.”
“Oh for sure. For sure.” He picked up his glass and clinked it against mine. “She’s been awesome though. I thought for sure she’d be outta here the second I told her we were having problems, you know? And no, Daron. You don’t strike me as a violent person. You’re like a cat. The claws only come out when you’re cornered.” Then he looked at me with a slightly panicked look. “Oh shit, that didn’t come out sounding right.”
“Um…?” I wasn’t offended by what he said and I couldn’t quite figure out why he was worried about it.
“I mean, I wouldn’t want you thinking that I was implying that you were some kind of pussy because of well yeah never mind I’ll justshutupnow.”
I snorted. “It’s really okay. I knew that wasn’t what you meant.”
“But that’s just it, isn’t it? It’s like I say shit without even realizing that maybe I really am brainwashed. Lacey’s reading me the riot act about that. Your sister, too. And Carynne. It’s like I can’t even open my mouth without somebody telling me what a dumb shit I am.”
“My sister called you a dumb shit?”
“No no. She just points out when I say something sexist or insensitive. Which makes me feel like a dumb shit.” He dragged his hands through his hair. “You know, I’m thirty, and I feel like I should have this shit figured out by now.”
“Well, it’s not like you had good role models for it.”
“That’s true. But I feel like that’s no excuse. Still. Sometimes I feel ganged up on.”
I chuckled a little. “You mean, it went from being everyone was gay, to everyone’s a girl?”
“Kinda, yeah! I guess… I guess I’ve never lived with so many women around.” He laughed. “Your sister is actually pretty cool, you know. We’ve been swapping stories about what happens when the people in your life suddenly turn into religious nuts.” But then he gave me a chagrined look. “Man, did I really say that?”
“That everyone around me was turning gay?”
“I don’t remember your exact words now. It was something like that. But you know, I can sympathize. Because it felt kind of like that to me, too. I mean, I am gay, but I got used to thinking that the world was basically mostly straight people. I’m starting to rethink that assumption. It’s like every time I turn around, someone else I assumed was straight… isn’t.”
“Yeah, well, but what’s the thing they say, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem? I want to be part of the solution, Daron. I’m like… man. I just want to stop feeling like a total heel all the time, though. You know, like am I ever going to get over how dumb I was?”
“You will, man, you will.” I took a couple of bigger swigs of my beer, since it was starting to get a little warm. “But tell me seriously. If a gig came along that was three straight guys looking for a drummer, would you, you know, be more comfortable with them?”
He shrugged. “I doubt it. I mean, there are a helluva lot more important things that would affect a decision like that. Besides all the guys in Miracle are straight.”
I was about to agree, when I suddenly had an idea. “Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m…” He stopped. “Wait. You think they could be closet cases?”
“Probably not all of them, but you know, they’ve decided the only way to stay clean is to give up everything the Bible is against, right?”
“So they’re against homosexuality because of that, even though technically it doesn’t have anything to do with drugs.”
“So what are the chances that one of them was already in the closet and now is even deeper in it?”
“I’m not saying it’s true. But it could be true. And maybe we’ll never know.”
We were both out of beer. Funny how that happens. Christian signaled for two more.
“Must be miserable,” Chris said, when we had fresh glasses in front of us.
“Which thing, now?”
“Being in the closet. Having to hide all the time.”
“Well, you know, there’s a weird way that you were right.”
“What was I right about?”
“About how you and me were alike. Stay with me here.” I hadn’t drunk enough to be actually drunk, but I was at that state where everything seemed logical but putting together a logical argument might have some unforeseen gaps in it. Booze is like that. “Here’s how I’m starting to see it. Liking drugs or being gay, neither one is inherently bad, unless you believe like Dave and those guys.”
“And those guys are nuts, so, no. Okay, I’m with you.”
“But when drugs are a problem is when they start to totally rule your life and make other things suck, right? Like if somebody can’t do their job or take care of their kids, right? When that happens, obviously, everyone disapproves of it, and so the drug use has to be kept hidden. It has to be illicit.”
“Well, and remember, drugs are illegal.”
“True. But even alcohol.”
“Oh, I get you. Yeah, even though booze is legal there are alcoholics who hide the bottle under their bed and only drink in the bathroom and stuff.”
“Right. Exactly. Because they know people in society are going to give them the hairy eyeball if they see it. Being gay is like that, too, if you have to sneak around and hide it because you know people are going to disapprove.” Which brought me to my point. “So actually you know exactly what it’s like to be in the closet, Chris!”
“Huh! I guess I do. I bet there’s a lot of paranoia that goes along with it, too.”
“Yes. Yes, exactly. So you know what? I have to apologize to you.”
“Wait, why do you have to apologize to me?”
“Because you said my vice and yours were the same and I bit your head off for it. But you were actually right. So I’m sorry I bit your head off.”
“Yeah, well, I deserved it because I was being a dick, even if I was right. But apology accepted.” Chris looked at me. “Is it better for you now, though? I mean, I could get off drugs. I can’t imagine getting off sex, though.”
“Well, that’s a decent question, really, and one I ask myself a lot. I tried quitting it a couple of times, actually, and it doesn’t really work.”
“D. that’s like trying to give up food, I think. And people who do that are seriously messed up. I’m dating a model. I should know.”
“Yeah. So but here’s one of the things I’m trying to say. What made it like that was me trying to hide it, was me being obsessed with people giving me the hairy eyeball about it. But if being gay doesn’t hurt the job I do or the people around me, then nobody should judge me for it. And if no one is judging me, then I don’t have any reason to sneak around or act like it’s a dirty habit. And you know what? I like the sex a lot better when it’s not in sketchy circumstances.”
“Sounds like you and that writer have a thing going, Carynne said.”
“Yeah. A thing.” I took a deep breath and realized I was almost halfway through my second beer already. “So, there it is. I think I’ve finally got it figured out, I should treat sex like something I need as much as food and which is… as much a part of me as…”
“Yeah. But of course, just when I think I’ve got that figured out, bam.” I whacked the bar for effect and the bartender glanced over. I looked away. “Did Carynne actually tell you the whole story of what went down at BNC?”
“She told me it was gay bullshit, if that’s what you mean. I mean, anti-gay. You know what I mean.”
“I get it.” Christian put on his righteous face. “I can totally see where this guy gets off on that, but at the same time, dude, wake up and smell the cappucino, the entertainment biz is full of gays. Right?”
“I think his point was of course there are a ton of gays but we’re supposed to stay quiet and in the closet to get anywhere. I used to buy that line. I really did. But after everything that’s happened… I don’t know. I just can’t swallow it when there are too many other things they obviously did wrong. It’s mismanagement at their end that scuttled the sales, not the fact that I’m gay, or that Ziggy’s flamboyant, or whatever.”
Chris’s glass was empty. “Okay. So where do we stand?”
“I’m meeting this lawyer I guess. Carynne says it’s not time to go look for day jobs yet, but if we don’t get this worked out, then I don’t know.”
“No no. I mean you and me.”
“I think we’re cool, Chris.”
“Are you sure?”
“We’re just two guys trying to make it all work. You’re not perfect, but neither am I. I’m… I guess I’m still a little sore, but you know, having seen what some of my real enemies look like? I’m a lot more forgiving of anyone who’s sticking by me.”
“I’m sticking by you, D.” We shook hands, not the business style, the arm-wrestling style, with a half hug for good measure. “Tell me when you need me and where and I’ll be there.”
I had a feeling that resolve was going to be tested. But it was nice to hear.
That was sweet. Lol, I was expecting ELO.
What an awesomely long post, Cecilia. Thanks! Wonderful!
LOL! Once they start drinking they just talk and talk and talk…! 😉
+1, and +1 for the ELO thought, too.
I think technically the ELO song is Don’t BRING Me Down, but then again, Daron’s gotten titles wrong before.
That was a lot of twisty logic. Still, you got there. I love seeing your light bulb moments, Daron. It’s okay to be publicly gay is a pretty big one. Now to see what you do with it.
I’m glad you’re going to orientation with Chris. That’s going to help in many different relationships you’ve got, I think.
Got a question though. When you were coming clean with Christian you didn’t mention anything about Ziggy. Just a brief thing about BNC saying he was flamboyant. Conspicuous by absence. The question: Why? or Why not?
I don’t know. Maybe because Ziggy is a can of worms that would totally derail my train of thought. I feel like if I start talking about him I might not stop. And I needed to concentrate on Chris and me.