The first show of the tour would be in Atlanta, at an arena officially named the Omni but referred to by the crew as the Waffle Iron because of the shape of the roof, which looked like a—you guessed it—waffle iron. We had several days off in LA before the actual show because the crew and rig had to travel across the entire country to get there.
I kind of wondered about this. Nomad was a band from the West Coast, and here they were starting a tour in the East. Moondog Three had been a band from the East Coast, and we had started our tour in the West. Was that bad planning? Or was it good because it meant you ended up closer to home in the end? I wasn’t sure. It probably had more to do with when the venues were available. Carynne once told me that to set up any given six weeks on the road she probably made about five hundred phone calls. That was about four-hundred-ninety-nine more than I would have been willing to make before I freaked out and bailed.
During the days off, me and Martin went to Santa Monica for a couple of days to rest up and relax. It was his idea. I spent some of the time feeling a little bit melancholy. I’ve always liked Santa Monica but I remembered going there with Jonathan when everything had pretty much crumbled to dust in our relationship but we were still thinking we might pack it back together into a new sand castle if we wished hard enough. Or something.
I only told Martin enough of it to give him the gist and then I started to feel better anyway. We had a good time doing almost nothing. When do I ever get to do that? Almost never. So that was good.
We flew to Atlanta on March 26, had a full dress rehearsal on the afternoon of the 27th, and then the actual opening night of the tour was on the 28th. Which meant that we had an opening night afterparty, and then a day off to recover from the afterparty.
Okay, when I say it like that it sounds kind of decadent and stupid, doesn’t it? But it’s part of the job, part of the territory, part of the way things are done. And I may have mentioned before, Nomad were a hard-drinking bunch.
So that was why I was so drunk I couldn’t really see when I called Carynne to tell her how it went. I had to dial her number by feel on the touch tone phone, and I could tell I messed it up the first time because the notes that the phone played were wrong.
Second time I got it right and it went through.
“Hey. Calling from Atlanta.” I wondered why full sentences were used so often by sober people. Seemed like a waste of effort.
“Daron! I thought it might be you. How’d it go?”
“Great. Just great.”
“Hey, you know what I just realized? You guys will be in New York when Sugargum is showcasing.”
“Really? That’s when, next week?”
She gave a mock exasperated huff. At least, I think it was mock. Maybe it was real. “Why am I not surprised I know your itinerary better than you do? Yeah, you’ve got Madison Square Garden, Brendan Byrne Arena, and Nassau Coliseum all in the same stretch.”
“Huh. Do you know where we’re staying or if we’re busing it?”
“That I don’t know. Ask my uncle. Speaking of which, how is the old fart?”
“Same as always. Well, quieter, maybe.”
“Maybe it’s just that he doesn’t yell at me anymore.”
“When did he ever yell at you?”
“You don’t remember? That tour where we met. He was on my case all the time.”
“Huh, I don’t remember that.” I thought I heard her giggle. “Jeez that was a long time ago.”
“Five years.” Then I stopped to think about it. “Wasn’t it? Five years?”
“Yes, dear. A fifth of my life ago and not quite a quarter of yours.”
“Ow. That’s too much math for my whiskey-battered head.”
“What? You batter-dipped your head?”
“No, no. Never mind. Not that kind of party.”
“Sounds pretty quiet for a party.”
“I’m in the room now. I should probably go back to it, though. I wanted to call you before I forgot.”
“Call me anytime, honey bunches of oats. I expect regular reports.”
“Love you, Dar’. See you in New York.”
“Love you, too.”
After I hung up I wondered if she sounded a little bit worried or if that was me projecting. I didn’t feel anxious just then because I was bourbon-soaked, but intellectually I knew there were a couple of things concerning me in the back of my head. But you know, that was an improvement over having crippling anxiety in the front of my head, right? Everything was going to be fine.
I went back to the party, where I met Ford’s grandmother. Melissa’s family was from Atlanta and a bunch of them were there, and I didn’t actually get to exchange any meaningful conversation with them, but it was nice to see them. Melissa was beaming, showing off the baby to everyone. Ford slept through the entire proceedings, so far as I could tell. He was learning the lesson early: when you’re on tour, if you can sleep, do.
It was a lesson I’d never had much trouble following before.
(This post’s chapter title is a sideways reference to the fact that in 1991 pre-Olympics Atlanta was a bit of a dump, and the Omni was literally rusting through in places. The “waffle iron” roof was supposed to be a kind of special steel that would rust once and then create a special finish of some kind, but it didn’t work and instead just rusted and rusted and rusted. -d.)