Ziggy and I rendezvoused that Sunday, our “day off,” at the same hotel in the middle of nowhere as earlier in the week.
When I got to the room I realized it was a different one. I said something witty and observant like: “Hey, this is a different room.”
“Course it is,” he said, stripping his shirt over his head and making an utter wreck of his gelled hair by doing so. “The microwave was shot in the other one. I want you to touch every inch of my skin.”
Well. “I can do that.” I shed my jacket where we were standing and put my palms against his bare chest, but mostly to push him toward the bedroom. I took Ziggy’s request quite literally and got him out of the rest of his clothes and his boots. The boots were kind of a challenge actually and I decided it was a good idea to start the touching with the foot that was in my hand.
Playing the guitar gives a person strong fingers. That may be why I apparently give a very good footrub. Once Ziggy was pretty much completely melted into a puddle I did the other foot–you know, so he wouldn’t be lopsided–and then I worked on touching all the rest of him.
We were not in a hurry.
In my mind I was writing a song. “Every inch.” You know the line in that Led Zeppelin song, “Whole Lotta Love?” How old were you when you first realized that Robert Plant had to be singing about his penis with the lyric “I’m gonna give you every inch of my love?” So there was that, but every inch of skin was a different twist. How many kisses would it take to cover every inch of Ziggy?
It’s a stupid question since I would never be able to keep track of the number. (I’m good at counting to four over and over again, though.)
At one point Ziggy drew a deep breath, then looked up at me through his thick, dark lashes, and said, “What are you thinking about? Your mind is somewhere else.”
“I’m sorry. I’m writing a song.”
“Why are you sorry?”
“Mm. Don’t you mind that part of my attention’s on this non-existent song instead of on you?”
He giggled and ran his hand through my hair. “I know you better than that. Tell me you have a guitar in the car.”
“Of course I–”
“Go get it.”
“Go. Get. It.” He pushed me toward the edge of the bed with each word.
“Okay, fine.” I pulled a minimum of clothes on, went down to the SUV in the parking lot and brought the Ovation back to the room.
“Why didn’t you bring it up here in the first place?” Ziggy asked. He had wrapped the sheet around himself and was lying across the bed, propping up his head with one hand and looking like a white cotton mermaid.
“Just because I go everywhere with a guitar doesn’t mean I presumed we were going to do anything with it,” I said.
“Get undressed,” Ziggy said, and unwound himself partway from the sheet. “Pick somewhere to sit to work on your song.”
“Um.” I looked around at the options. The couch, the bed, the desk chair… “Where will you be?”
“That depends.” His voice had that devious lilt to it which inevitably meant mind-blowing sex was to follow.
With that in mind, I got undressed again, and I set myself up on the bed, notebook open, pencil in the crease, while I tuned. Ziggy lay on his side next to me, watching. I scratched out some lyric ideas, then played around with some riffs, trying out a little melody with my voice… typical “feeling out how a song should go” stuff.
Ziggy molded himself around my bare back. After a while, one slow, methodical hand of his reached between my legs and worked on making me hard. This was clearly the game: I was supposed to keep writing until I couldn’t maintain my concentration, right? Not easy. But, you know, parts of my brain had momentum toward this idea, so I kept at it. And Ziggy was subtle, arousing me but trying not to distract me.
Surprisingly, it got easier to concentrate on the song when he switched to his mouth. I had to hitch the guitar up on my chest, but it was like Ziggy was meditating while sucking, and that zen-like calm or whatever it was fed right into me. I don’t know how long we were like that. They say it’s not healthy to maintain an erection for too long, but I sure wasn’t suffering any ill effects so far as I could tell.
It was a simple song and sometimes the simple songs are the best. After a while I gave up singing it and I lay back and played it instead. Ziggy moved then from placid maintenance mode to actively trying to…you get the idea. I played for a while, improvising, turning the riff around different ways…until I couldn’t stand it anymore and I put the guitar aside.
We didn’t get out of bed until our hunger for food far outweighed our hunger for each other, and even then. The pizza in LA sucks but at least they bring it to you.
What actually got us out of bed was the eventual post-sex shower. You can eat pizza in bed, and watch videos, and talk about life, and write songs, and love each other a million ways, but you can’t wash up.
By the time we were done with the shower it was well after midnight. I finally got my stuff together to leave. My jacket was still on the floor by the door. I was standing there putting it on–and thinking wow, that was two times in a row that Ziggy and I spent time together with no meltdowns or drama–when a piece of paper came shooting under the door and hit me in the foot.
I bent over to pick it up reflexively, assuming it was the day sheet for tomorrow’s shooting schedule or something.
No, it was a bill for one night in the hotel. For a second I thought they must have stuck the bill under the wrong door. But then I saw it had Ziggy’s name on it, his real name, and his (former) Boston address.
I turned and looked at him, and he was pulling a towel around himself and biting his lip guiltily.
“Zig?” That’s all I asked. He didn’t owe me an explanation if he didn’t want to give one.
“I just…really wanted to see you,” he said, whispering it like someone might hear.
I put the bill by the coffee maker and then I put my arms around him. “Is there something…going on?”
He let me hug him even though he felt tense. “I don’t know what it is about you that makes me feel like I have to confess.”
“Is there something to confess?”
“I’m playing hooky,” he said, but the way I was holding him he said it into the top of my shoulder. “I should be in New York at dance lessons or vocal practice right now.”
It dawned on me that the hotel had seemed kind of quiet and empty for a place that I assumed had a film crew, a security detail, et cetera. “I was starting to wonder where Tony was,” I said. “Does your management even know where you are?”
“No. I told them if I don’t get to keep some secrets, they can all go fuck themselves.”
I didn’t know what to say to that.
“I’m so afraid you’re angry at me.”
I took a slow breath and tried to determine for sure that I wasn’t. I wasn’t. “Why would I be angry at you for, I think, flying across the country just to see me?”
“Because it’s against your morals to put pleasure ahead of work?”
I gently backed him against the frame of the bathroom door and looked into his eyes. “Is that what this is about? Pleasure?”
He winced. “If that’s all I can get you to admit to, yeah.”
Ouch, my turn to wince. “I thought we were clear on…it meaning more than that.”
“You mean the ‘I love you, you love me,’ part?”
“Beyond that, seems to me, nothing’s clear.”
I don’t know why, but I had the urge to touch his lips with my fingers, as if I could figure out how his mouth worked I could figure out how he could say the things he said. “Why didn’t you just tell me you were going to fly here to see me? Why lie to me and tell me you were filming something?”
“I didn’t want you to…feel pressured. If you were, you know. Busy.”
“And if I was busy? You’d have sat here alone, feeling miserable and hating me?” But then I realized, he had to have stayed somewhere else the rest of the time. He hadn’t been in this hotel the whole time, only on the days he knew he was seeing me. “Where are you staying, really? Is it that you don’t want me to know who with?”
“Did you make up with Digger or something and you’re afraid to tell me?”
He laughed nervously. “No. Nothing like that.”
He folded his hands around mine and tucked them against his breastbone. “Daron. Would it really make a difference to you to know everything?”
“Yes!” Why was this so hard to get through? “Yes. If this is ever going to work, long distance or whatever, the one thing that has to be there is the truth. I don’t want to hear it’s complicated or that there are multiple realities. I want to know. I want to understand. You freak me out whenever you pull this kind of thing.”
“I told you you were mad at me.”
“I’m not mad at you!” Okay, now maybe I was, now that I knew what was going on, which okay, I could see might be why he might not want me to know. “But if no one knows you’re here with me, is there someone like me freaking out on the other side of the country, or even on the other side of LA, who thinks maybe you’ve run off to India?”
“Daron. I’m not running off to India. I’m not running away from you. But this is a time of big changes.”
“Yes, it is.”
“And it really is as simple as I said. I wanted to spend some time with you before you hit the road. I didn’t want to make any demands on you, though. I didn’t want you to feel obligated. I know–” His breath caught suddenly and he blinked hard. “I know you’re not at my beck and call. I know your career is as important to you as mine is to me. This is my way of respecting all that. Of not getting in your way and putting you first.”
“Okay.” If I didn’t think about it too hard, what he said made sense. Only in a Ziggy way, but at least I could see the internal twisted logic of how he got to that place. “Okay.”
I opened my mouth to ask when I was going to see him again, and I found my heart squeezed too hard in my chest to let any more words out.
So I kissed him. I wanted it to be tender and sweet but I think it came through kind of angry and heartsore.
And then I wanted to say “I love you,” since he forbade me to say it over the phone, but I still couldn’t speak, so I settled for kissing him again. I tried to make it beautiful and full of longing but I think I actually bit him a little too hard.
He didn’t say “I love you” either, but I didn’t feel like he had to. What he did say was, “You have my number.”
I nodded and he pushed me out the door.
(For some reason this song charted in 1991, even though it was released in 1987. That was the second time that happened to Chris Isaak, whose “Wicked Game” was on a 1989 album, released as a single in 1990, but didn’t chart until after it was in the 1991 David Lynch movie ‘Wild At Heart.’ I’m not sure if Blue Hotel, which was from the album *before* that, was then pushed as a followup or what. But take it as proof there was a lot of good music in that era not reaching its audience through regular radio, especially music that couldn’t be easily categorized. -ctan)