I’m not going to lie. Cyclobenzaprine withdrawal sucked. And from what I hear, for me it sucked particularly.
By nightfall every muscle in my body hurt. Have you ever had one of those laughing fits where you laugh so hard and so long that your ribs and stomach hurt like hell? Now imagine that without the laughing, and add in other parts of your body, too, and you have some idea what I felt like.
That made it easy, sort of, to mutually decide with Ziggy that we should sleep separately that night. Neither of us wanted to aggravate the other’s insomnia.
And I really needed a drink. I left the sanctuary of Ziggy’s suite and set about trying to remember where my own room was. I forgot that it was on the same floor–somehow I’d convinced myself it was one floor down–and so I wandered the wrong hallway for a little while. From the sound of things, more than one person in our entourage was getting laid, which I suppose was par for the course. (The dancers were not being particularly subtle by that point in the tour.)
I ran into Bart and Flip coming out of a room together, looking like they’d had quite a workout themselves.
“Daron!” Bart called with a big smile.
“Lost?” Flip asked.
“Just checking out all the noise,” I said reasonably.
They steered me back toward the elevator. “If there was ever a country where you might want to consider switching teams,” Bart said seriously, “Brazil would be it.”
“The women here are wow,” Flip said. They both sounded a little drunk, but apparently it was love-drunk. “They’re like what groupies are like in the States except they’re not groupies, they’re just regular girls.”
“What do you mean?”
“Not afraid to want to have sex,” Bart said. “I think that’s what he means.”
“Yeah, exactly.” Flip pushed the up button on the elevator and I remembered where I was supposed to be going. I think my cheeks started to redden at that point. “They don’t even know we’re with a rock band. They just know we’re American. They don’t even speak English. Not more than a couple of words.”
“Isn’t it difficult to figure out sex with a girl you don’t have a language in common with?” I asked.
Bart snorted. “Aren’t you the one who jetted off to Spain with a guy who didn’t speak English?”
Oh. “Um, yeah.” I full on blushed. Yeah, that was me. We got into the elevator. “But I’d met him already. You know. We’d been playing music all week.”
“Ah, right. Music, the universal language,” Flip said. “We’ve been relying on a couple of phrases Ro-Ro gave us, so as not to blow our cover.”
Bart mangled a sentence that was something like “tu eres muy linda” (you’re very beautiful) except in Portuguese. He followed it up with English. “You hungry?”
“We’re going to order room service.”
“Did you want to invite the girls?” I wasn’t sure exactly what was considered polite.
“Nah. They’re still at it,” Flip informed me.
So we went back to Bart and my room. Bart, as usual, handled the ordering while Flip took a shower. I sat in a chair and looked at the piece of paper I had folded up in my pocket.
It was where I’d written the word “withdrawal.” I stared at it and tried to listen to Ziggy’s voice in my head telling me my muse was going to be okay.
Otherwise I was going to end up, night after night, playing other people’s songs, for the rest of my life.
“What?” I looked up at Bart.
“You don’t look so good.”
“What makes you say that?”
He came close. “Oh, the fact that you’re rocking back and forth holding your ribs with one arm and… oh.” He had seen the word on the paper. “That bad, huh?”
“I thought Flexeril withdrawal wasn’t supposed to be much of anything.”
“I’m just lucky, I guess?” I let the paper fall and curled up sideways in the chair. It was a large chair and I am not a large person.
Flip came over, toweling his head, another towel tucked around his waist. His tattoos looked particularly stark like that. “What’s going on?”
“My entire body feels like I’ve been run over with a steamroller?” I suggested as a description. “Trampled by elephants? And then there’s my head.”
“Food will make you feel better,” Bart assured me.
“Hm. I think you’re dehydrated, too. Which I’m sure doesn’t help.”
“I’m a guitarist, not an earthworm, dammit.”
“Cool your jets, D. We got you.” Flip wrapped towel #1 around his head like a turban, draped towel #2 over the dresser and pulled his jeans on, then meandered out of the room into the hallway. it seemed to me that the door had barely shut behind him when he was back, a bottle of Gatorade in each hand.
I reached for one but he pulled it back. “These are undoctored.”
“They don’t need to be doctored,” I said. “Do they?”
“I just wanted to check first before you guzzle ’em,” he said.
“I’ll have a shot after. It’ll taste better that way, anyway.”
“True. I’ve also got some other things we could add, though.” He rattled off a list of legal and pseudo-legal ingredients. “Crushing up some Excedrin will make it work faster. I’ve also got that unopened stash of Canadian Tylenol, still in the blister packs.”
“Is that the stuff with codeine in it?” Bart asked.
“Yep. And Ro-Ro has–”
“No. No weed, no hash,” I said. “And definitely no cocaine, heroin, or–”
“Easy, easy. We’re steering well clear of anything like that,” Flip assured me.
“Just give me the Gatorade.”
He handed me the first of the two bottles and I forced myself to drink as much of it in one go as I could. Which was half the bottle. I sat there staring at it until I could psych myself up to drink the other half.
“Maybe a little ibuprofen wouldn’t hurt, either,” I admitted. Flip handed me a couple of beige, round, sugar-coated Advil. I washed them down on my second round of Gatorade and then set the empty bottle down carefully. (I had the urge to fling it against the wall, but I didn’t.)
“Guys, I have a confession to make.” Yes, those words came out of my mouth.
“You want to switch teams?” Bart asked, not at all seriously.
“No. I think we should cut the opening act.” I couldn’t bring myself to say the name Star*Gaze. I made it sound like we were talking about some other poor schlubs and not ourselves.
The two of them simultaneously said, “It’s only three more shows,” but they meant it in opposite ways. Flip’s voice seemed to be saying why give up with only three shows left? While Bart seemed to be saying it was less of a big deal to drop it since there were only three to go.
“I just…can’t hack it anymore,” I added. I didn’t want to go into detail about how talking to Ziggy had shifted my perspective. In fact I still wasn’t completely sure what my perspective was now, only that it seemed obvious I’d been drinking more than I should have both to get up my courage to perform those songs every night and then to forget about all the angst they dredged up.
“We could talk to Ro-ro about having them do a big group samba thing, maybe,” Bart suggested.
“Or we could just skip it. There’s no law that says there has to be an opening act,” Flip said, putting a hand on my shoulder. “You want to be the one to tell Chris or should I?”
“I’ll tell him,” Bart said, and that settled it.
Food arrived. There was some kind of very salty soup which is most of what I concentrated on. Maybe I was low on electrolytes if I wanted salt that much.
Trying to chew the bread, though, I could feel how much my headache was my jaws. I hadn’t really noticed before that the jaw muscles are all around the ear, both in front and behind. I gave up eating and massaged them with my thumbs. “Last time my jaw hurt this much was the day after we did Ecstasy.”
“You must be clenching it,” Bart said.
“Well, no kidding,” Flip put it. “Every muscle that’s been relaxed medicinally for the past month has probably forgotten how to relax on its own. Maybe we should get you a massage. I mean a real one, not a hooker.”
The fact that he felt the need to specify struck me funny and I laughed. Which proved my ribs still hurt. “I hurt to the touch, though.”
“Okay, maybe no massage then. Hot tub?”
“I had a hot soak once already today. I suppose another one wouldn’t hurt, though.”
Bart wiped his mouth with a napkin and leaned back, done eating. “Baths are Colin’s beat, not mine.”
“I can take a bath by myself,” I said.
Flip and he exchanged a look.
“Can’t I? If I promise to drink the bourbon afterward instead of bef–?” I broke off as a cramp crawled through my right palm like an alien larva trying to escape from my scar.
I’ll quit torturing you with descriptions of my pains. I’ll just summarize by saying despite various strategies, cold medicines, and sympathies, I didn’t sleep that night. Not a wink.
I fell asleep well into the next day, at Rogelio’s samba school, while listening to the drums thunder off the ceiling.
(Kind of hard to find a more apropos song, actually. Huey Lewis knew how hard this business can be, especially in 1991 when this was a hit, as his band rode the wave of their 80s success but weren’t really able to keep things fresh, like so many bands caught in the industry machine at that point. -d)