I don’t smoke and I never liked cigarettes. I think one reason I was never tempted to smoke despite my desperate teenage attempts to fit in was that I associated smoking with my parents being stresspuppies. They chain-smoked while they fought.
I form associations easily, though, and the way cigarette smoke smells when it’s leaching out of two toxic individuals like poison gas is completely different from the way your lover’s hair smells when you come home from a club. Or my own hair, for that matter. When cigarette smoke is mixed with the sweat from dancing and hair conditioner and the sweet vestiges of clove and weed and fog machine, it becomes heady incense. Tastes like it when I lick it right off his skin.
We had done no drugs and I hadn’t even drunk much, maybe two beers all night, but Ziggy was intoxicating. Even more heady was feeling like it was okay to drink him in, to drown my senses in him and not hold back. So I felt a bit high lying there in his centerpiece bed after sex, entranced at the way my hand looked lying on his chest, the slenderness of my fingers and the colors of our skin. My hands were the brownest part of me and his chest was the palest part of him (except for maybe his butt) which made for an odd contrast.
“Didn’t you used to have some chest hair?” I asked.
“Not very much,” he said, putting his hand over mine but not moving his head, like he was so spent he couldn’t.
A little while later he said, “Tomorrow’s our last day off for a while. What do you want to do?”
He rolled over so that he was half on top of me, snuggling me. “Mmmm. Good idea.”
He fell asleep at that point and I lay there enjoying the luxury of listening to him breathe against the backdrop of middle-of-the-night city sounds. Had I said an I-love-you that day? I was pretty sure I hadn’t.
I resolved to try to say it every day unless or until it wasn’t true.
Then I lay there trying to think of a band name again. I kept thinking that the right thing would just come to me. That I’d know it when I heard it. But I felt like if I didn’t spend some time actually meditating on it or brainstorming, we’d end up with Insert Band Name Here or something. And Insert Band Name Here was definitely not it.
We’d tried various clever ideas while brainstorming. Bart had suggested The Candlelighters, to evoke our best-known song, but although we all liked the idea in theory, the sound of it was wrong. None of the other things we came up with that were also references to Moondog Three songs sounded right, either.
My relationship to words is often about what they sound like as much as what they mean. When I write a song sometimes it comes out of how the words sound together more than what the song is about. I mean it has to be both. I can’t decide to write a song about Woolloomooloo just because–I’d have to have something about Woolloomooloo worth saying.
I’ll confess. I didn’t think Moondog Three was the best name I could have come up with. But the sound had fit somehow. I heard Dave Grohl tell a story recently about naming his post-Nirvana band The Foo Fighters. After Kurt’s death he was trying to move on, and he’d made a demo where he played all the instruments but didn’t want to make it seem like it was all him, so he stuck the name Foo Fighters on the cassette to make it look like a band and then gave it to people to see what they thought. He had no idea that what would eventually happen is that the Foo Fighters would end up becoming the biggest rock band in the world, and that if he had, he “would have picked something better.”
Ziggy slept for about an hour and a half and then lifted his head and looked at me. “I thought you said you wanted to sleep.”
“I have to pee first and you’re lying half on top of me and I didn’t want to disturb you.”
He grinned and sat up. We both went to the bathroom and I brushed my teeth and washed my face. “How old am I now?” I asked as I looked in the mirror, the math seeming elusive at that hour of the night/morning.
“You’re twenty-three,” Ziggy said with a yawn, using some kind of little scrubby pad under his eyes–to remove or prevent raccoon eyes, I supposed. “And I am slightly older than that.”
Two-ish years older. Ziggy was even more secretive his birthday than I was and I knew not to believe anything they said in the press. So, two-ish years, because he had been old enough to drink already when we met. The older we got the smaller the age gap seemed–and it had never seemed particularly big to begin with. Meanwhile the amount of time we’d known each other took up a larger and larger percentage of our lifespans. My brain wasn’t doing math right then but I estimated it must be around twenty percent.
We got back in bed, properly under the covers this time. “So we didn’t talk about this, but I realized I ought to probably ask?” I spooned him so I could bury my nose in the back of his neck when I wasn’t talking. Except I was talking. “Am I staying with you the rest of the time I’m in the city or should I–”
He put a hand over mine, where it rested on his hip. “Do you think you’ll want some space to yourself?”
“Or will you? Yeah, I guess that’s what I’m saying. Just because I’m stuck to you like Velcro right now doesn’t mean you have to let me move in automatically. Although I like here much better than a hotel.” I was starting to go down one of those endless ping pong matches of either-or. “I mean, don’t think that the reason I’m bringing it up is because I’m trying to get out of staying here, I just didn’t want to encroach or make the assumption that just because we’re getting along means I can just waltz in.”
He chuckled softly. “I want you here.”
That settled it. “Okay, good.” I nuzzled him. “Solve my next question just as easily? What should I call this band?”
“Hm. Ask Barrett.”
“Interesting suggestion. Sounds a little British, though.”
He chuckled again and then drifted to sleep. Asking Barrett was worth a try.
(You guys, the Tip Jar already has $31 in it this week…! Meanwhile, I’m in Florida. I was supposed to see Adam Lambert in Clearwater last night, but he had to cancel, strep throat, he’s been trying to sing through it and was finally ordered on 48 hours vocal rest by his doctors. The dangers of touring are real… -ctan)