Trying to find the right moment to ask Colin whether he was coming with us to South America turned out to be more difficult than I expected. Eventually one day when Christian and I were engaging in the practice of moving iron around, I asked him about it.
“So I want to ask Colin whether he’s coming with us,” I said. “But I don’t want to seem like I’m pressuring him.”
“You mean because you like to play hide the sausage with him?”
Don’t make people laugh while they’re lifting something heavy. They can yoink themselves. It was a near thing. I put down the heavy thing and took a deep breath before trying to speak. “To put it in true but hilarious terms, yeah.”
Chris was still kind of high strung around the subject of man-on-man action and I supposed that was all right. There were people who were that high strung around any and all sex–come to think of it–and I was the last person who would judge someone else for being high strung about sex.
Chris at least took my quandary seriously. “Okay but pick it apart a little for me, okay? Like is it that you’re worried about pressuring him to go, or is it because of the, ahem, sausage hiding that might potentially take place on the road, or the lack thereof, that you’re worried about?”
“Hm.” I sat down on the bench. “If I knew that, I might not be having so much trouble talking to him in the first place.”
“Only one solution for that,” he said.
“Yeah, I know. Talk to him.”
I decided the mature thing to do, though, would be to call Ziggy about it first. I didn’t reach him on first try, so I left him the following message: “Okay, so I really need to talk to you about something today or tonight so I paged you but don’t make me wait too long. All right? Actually I’m leaving the house so page me when I can call you back. That’s how this works, right?”
I left the house so I wouldn’t run into Colin before having this conversation with Ziggy, which meant that I went out without really knowing what I was going to do. I walked for ice cream, then ended up wandering into one of the usual watering holes where a couple of bands were getting ready to soundcheck. I listened to them for a while before drifting back out again.
I got on the Green Line heading into town, got off at Kenmore and had a slice of pizza, then got back in the train and went to the Boston Common. By the time I got there was around six o’clock and the park was busy with people heading home on their commutes and hanging around on a nice summer evening.
When was the last time my brain had nothing to do? It was kind of a rare thing, you know? But maybe that was why ideas kept springing up. Ideas for songs, ideas for instrumentation combinations I wanted to try if I was ever doing a soundtrack again, et cetera. I ended up calling the Allston house.
Colin answered. “Hello?”
“Hey, it’s Daron. I have a kind of weird favor to ask. Can you not answer when I call back and let the answering machine pick it up so I can leave myself a message?”
“Sure. But let me ask, are you high and do you need me to come find you?”
I laughed. “I am not high, but I went out without a notebook and I have some ideas I don’t want to forget.”
“All right, Daron.” He was chuckling as he hung up.
I left myself a rambling message where I sang some notes and talked out some ideas and stuff like that. It was probably a ten minute long message, but that was all right. The tape in the answering machine was a 90-minute cassette with 45 minutes per side.
Still no call from Ziggy.
I ended up in Harvard Square, wandering the late night bookstores (although it wasn’t that late yet) and record stores, and having dinner at the burger joint.
It was kind of nice to be alone in my head for an extended period of time when the inside of my head wasn’t a screaming mess. And that was kind of novel, since of course what I was doing was just quashing the whole Colin question until later, but other than that I wasn’t letting any other burning questions through, either.
The page came while I was sitting in the little park outside Grendel’s listening to a busker. Now to find a payphone. I ended up inside the mini-mall they called The Garage, by the bathrooms, which by the way are some of the only publicly accessible restrooms in Harvard Square, if you know where to find them.
I called him at the apartment.
“Hey.” I leaned against the wall. “I need to ask you about Colin. Last I rememeber, you were all for us bringing him on staff for the South America leg.”
“Yeah. Is there a reason not to?”
“Why do you want to bring him?”
“Because you trust him, Daron, and you need to have people you trust around you or you freak out.”
“Oh.” That was really logical, wasn’t it. “I trust everyone, though.”
“No, you don’t. You don’t trust Marvelle because you don’t know him yet, and you’re not totally sure you can trust Chris because of what happened with him going off the deep end last time, and you want to trust Barrett but you don’t know him well enough to know if he’ll have your back when it counts, and you really don’t know if you can trust me or not.”
“That’s not true. I trust you.”
“You trust me. But you don’t know if you should.”
Okay, this was not remotely where I thought this conversation was going to go. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I was really worried you were going to screw me over.”
“Sure you would. That’s why you held out so long. It wasn’t until you started trusting me in the purely emotional sense that you rationalized taking the gig. I’m not judging you for it, by the way.”
“Um, I don’t feel judged.” I was processing at hyperspeed though. He was actually wrong, I realized. It sounded good, it sounded right, but I suddenly remembered how I’d told Barrett I was taking the gig but told him not to tell Ziggy. I’d spent that week putting the relationship between me and Ziggy first, building up the personal connection between us outside the context of who worked for whom. To Ziggy it looked like I’d only come to the decision to take the gig after all that emotional work, when actually it was that I had to resolve the whole gig issue first so it wasn’t hanging over my head, and then work on the relationship stuff.
But anyway. “So what about Colin?”
It sounded like Ziggy fell back onto his bed. “Tell me why you’d be reluctant to bring him? Is something going on between you two?”
“Daron, for pete’s sake.”
“Don’t you ‘for pete’s sake’ me. I’m trying to figure it out.” I watched people going back and forth to the restrooms without really seeing them. “It feels like something more serious than either of us intended is developing, and I think neither of us wants that, so maybe spending a month on the road together wouldn’t be a good idea, okay? Is that clear enough for you?”
“Hm.” He was silent for a bit and all I could hear was the flushing of the nearby toilets and I tried very hard not to imagine that was the soundtrack of me flushing my relationship with Ziggy down the toilet with this admission.
When he spoke again it was to ask another question. “Serious how?”
“We don’t know. It just…the last few times we’ve had sex we’ve both felt…something.”
He said something that might have been a curse and might have just been the word “men.” He clucked his tongue. “Were both of you buying into the idea that it was all about emptying your nuts?”
“You know it’s never that simple, right?”
“Can’t it be? I mean, can’t we define a relationship however we want?”
“In theory, yes. In practice, he had a huge crush on you which wasn’t about wanting to fuck–”
“Hero worship is not about a warm place to stick it, no. Then there’s the fact you’ve been friends as well as housemates for a long time, and on top of all that you playing into Colin’s whole caretaker mode, especially after the explosion and then–I am guessing here–after I got sent upriver as a certified basketcase.”
“Okay. Yeah. That makes sense.”
“Short version: You’ve had a lot of bonding experiences with Colin other than mere sex. So now when you do have sex, you can’t exactly ignore all that.”
“Makes sense. But what do I do about it?”
“Are you in love with him?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“I’m not. We just laid out a whole lot of reasons for you and him to have a deep, close emotional bond.”
“Yeah, but that’s not love.”
“It isn’t? I think most people would say it is?”
“Yeah, well I don’t.”
“Because I love you, and the way I feel about you is not the way I feel about Colin.”
I could hear the glee in Ziggy’s voice. “That was the right answer.”
“To which question?”
“To make me happy with this conversation.”
My head was starting to pound, but not in a really bad way, you know? “That still doesn’t answer the question of whether Colin should come with us.”
“Maybe this will. You know the other reason why I want Colin there, besides you having a support system for yourself?”
“It’s handy to have a six-foot tall, eight-inch long fuck machine on staff.”
“You’re saying that to wind me up.”
“I’m saying that because it’s true. For such a top in bed, he’s really incredibly service-oriented. So that’s the question. If he comes with us, he’s a constant temptation. No, that’s the wrong word, makes it sound bad. He’s a constant possibility.”
I stared at the grungy ceiling above me, trying to make all the thoughts line up. “I guess that’s what I’m really asking. Is that possibility a time bomb to you and me? If so, he shouldn’t come with us.”
“Daron, if Colin is a time bomb to you and me, then we’ll have to deal with that sooner or later.”
“And during a tour where we’re under a ton of pressure is the worst place to deal with it.”
“Is it? We’ll be in our own world where we make the rules. That might be the ideal time to deal with it.”
“No. The tour itself is more important than our…our…” What was the word? “Psychodrama.”
“Fine. Back to square one. Remember the first reason I wanted him along is so if things blow up between you and me, you have a shoulder to cry on–a shoulder we both trust.”
I tried to hear what Ziggy meant by that. Did he mean he thought things were going to blow up between him and me? Or was he just being…sensible?
“But the person who really has to make the decision isn’t you or me,” Ziggy said. “It’s Colin. Okay? So why don’t you just ask him?”
Right. That was the whole point of calling Ziggy. “I wanted to talk it out with you first before I talked to him and potentially made a mess out of it.”
“That’s good. That’s…good.” His voice was soft, almost wistful. “When are you coming back again?”
“Monday.” I confess I wasn’t sure what day it was so I didn’t try to say how many days were left until Monday. “Two weeks and then I’m gone again.”
“Fuck,” Ziggy said. “It’s harder being apart from you than I thought it would be.”
Oh. Hearing him say that made me happy even though it felt like broken glass shards going through me. “Barrett’ll keep you busy,” I said.
“Tell me what he says.”
“Oh. I will.” I checked how much cash I had left in my pockets and decided to catch a cab back to the house.
“It’s going to be harder to be as honest with him as you are with me,” Ziggy added.
“Yes, because I force you to be honest with me and I’m not sure Colin does that. So you’ll have to force yourself and you’re not good at that.”
“Shit. You’re right.”
“Good luck, love. Am I allowed to say I love you over the phone now?”
“Yes. And I love you, too. Even if I am a complete failure at figuring this shit out.”
“I love you even when you’re a complete failure at figuring shit out, Daron,” he said. “I love you all the time and very intensely when you’re not here.”
“I’ll see you Monday.”
“Counting on it, lover.”
(Okay, quick think you guys can do for me: go vote for which of three possible cover images for DGC Volume 9 you like best! The poll and images are here: http://blog.ceciliatan.com/archives/2849. Sorry I’ve been slow to answer comments–I’ve been writing like a fiend lately trying to meet a June 1st deadline, plus I’m a couple of DGC chapters ahead. Good thing, too, since Bill topped up the tip jar yesterday and so there will be a post this Saturday, too! Look for it! -ctan)
(Song by the great Otis Redding. -d)