105. Once Bitten

I have this memory from my early childhood, one of those things you forget and then periodically remember. I must have been maybe four or five, and my older sister Beth was doing a piano recital.

The recital was at the piano teacher’s house, and all her current students had little songs to play while all the parents and siblings like me sat around listening. I remember sitting on Digger’s lap while Courtney sat on my mother’s. I think it was also Christmas time, or maybe I’m getting it mixed up with another party. Afterward there were cookies and cider for the kids, wine and cheese for the parents, as people milled around and talked.

What I remember was at one point after the formal recital, while people were milling around and eating, Digger got up to the piano and started to play and sing. I think the song was “Hound Dog” but maybe it was actually a Jerry Lee Lewis tune. My mother made us leave in a hurry after that. “School night” she’d said, but even as a child it’s hard to miss when your parents don’t speak to each other the whole way home.

I found myself dusting off a lot of old memories in the course of considering Digger’s proposal, why that one in particular I don’t know. A more relevant one might have been they way he used to bum money out of my piggy bank for his poker stake. I suppose that would have irked me a lot more if he hadn’t always, eventually, paid it back, sometimes double. After the first few times, though, I quit keeping most of my money in the piggy bank.

He dropped us off at the house around ten and the rest of us convened in the basement. I brought a bunch of papers down from the milk crate where I’d been keeping them in my room, and held them while I talked. Chris sat in the space where his drum kit usually was, Bart sat on an amp, Ziggy turned a milk crate over and Michelle sat on the stairs. I paced the hideous rug.

“So what did you think of him?” That was as good a way to start as any.

Christian spoke first. “He seems cool, Dar’–I mean, he seems to know what he’s talking about.”

Ziggy shrugged. Bart said “I know you don’t like him, but what did you think?”

I will not say ‘I don’t know.’ “I think he’s right about a lot of things. I know I’ve been holding out as long as possible on the whole manager thing. But even if we make the decision to get a manager, I don’t want him to be the one.”

Chris tapped on his knees with his fingers like he was telegraphing his thoughts to some remote party. “Do we have other options?”

Bart: “Yeah, ask around, look in the Yellow Pages, see who Mills gives us…?”

“Shit,” I said, “we need a manager to find us a manager.” I put the papers on the floor. “So, I’ve been meaning to show you these.”

Bart and Ziggy came over to look.

“These are the sales and financial statements that came from BNC.”

Now, the average logical person would think that a statement like that would tell you 1) how many copies of the product were sold, and 2) how much money you were owed as a result. But if that information was in the columns of numbers we’d received, I couldn’t find it. I said as much to the others.

Bart sat down and looked at the papers more closely. “Did you ask Mills about it?”

I had, and the answer had been less than clear.

“Figures.” Bart handed me back the sheets. “What about Watt?”

“I’m sure he’d know how to read them…” I started.

“No, duh, to be our manager.”

A collective “huh” went through the room. “I don’t think he has the time,” I said. “I mean, CR is his life, twenty four hours a day. And we’re not even his artists anymore.”

“Would it kill you to ask?” Bart glanced at the others as he said it.

No, it wouldn’t. We debated for a little longer though, and decided to put off making any decisions until I after I talked to him.

“What if he says no?” I asked, mostly to myself. “And what am I going to tell Digger?”

“Can I make a suggestion?” Michelle said from the stairs.

“Sure.” I turned to face her. Michelle had taken some entertainment business courses at Emerson and although I hadn’t always followed her advice, she was usually good to listen to.

“Maybe Watt can’t do it, or whatever. There’s things you want taken care of right away, right?”

“Like taxes,” I said.

“Yeah, like taxes. Digger sounds like he’s mostly up on the financial side. Why don’t you ask him to do some specific pieces? Not be the ‘manager’ exactly, but more like… an accountant.”

While we’d been walking off the food, Digger had told us some more details about his current job. He was working for the “new media” arm of WTA, setting up venture capital and this and that–insert executive-sounding jargon here, I don’t remember exactly what his description was. It sounded important and like it had to do with money. And, hey, WTA. Like the old man had made it, and who would have expected that?

“Tell him it’s on a trial basis.” Michelle went on. “Maybe Watt needs to hire an accountant for you anyway. Give him six months or something.”

I looked at the others who were nodding. We were not a democracy, the decision was mine to make, but I felt good knowing consensus had been reached.

We went upstairs, decided to meet at the loft at three, and everyone put on their coats to leave. I went up to my room, still heavy-full from dinner and itching to lie down with my headphones on. I was taking off my sneakers when the bedroom door opened behind me.

Ziggy stood there, his wool hat hiding the blond streak he’d made in his hair. I stood up in my stocking feet and looked at him. His face was blank, neither lust nor apology nor anything showed on it. He took a step forward, one hand reaching toward my bruised face. I took a step back, maintaining the distance between us. His shoulders slumped a little as we stared at each other and he turned and left. I closed the door behind him and locked it, the old heavy Victorian wood door, that didn’t fit tight in the frame and let the light from the hallway in under it.

Nope, not even a goodnight kiss.


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