I felt foolish the next day for having had an emotional outburst like a five-year-old over essentially nothing but I felt good about the fact the only people who knew I’d flipped out like that were Carynne and Ziggy. And in hindsight I felt good about the fact that I had felt comfortable turning to him when I was having a flipout. That felt like progress.
I also didn’t think for one second that during some film festival what he was there to do was lie around in a hotel watching TV, so I appreciated that he did, for me. The TV thing had been his idea and it had worked as intended. That also felt like a step in our relationship.
Of course so much of our relationship had been two steps forward, one step back that I refused to think about it.
Remo caught me at breakfast. I was sitting at a table by myself, having aleady eaten everything in sight, nursing an insulated carafe of coffee. “Mind if I join you?”
“Come on in.” I moved the newspaper, which I hadn’t really been reading. I had mostly just been staring at the milky surface of my coffee.
He put his plate down and went back to get a bowl of cut fruit. I turned the coffee cup at his place setting over and poured him some from my pot.
When he sat back down he said, “You’re up early.”
“I was in bed early,” I said. “And I was hungry.” I never did really have a proper dinner the night before.
Remo on the other hand looked like he hadn’t slept. He hadn’t shaved yet that morning, and his eyes had that droopy, tired look. “There’s a little media today I want to ask you to tag along with. Print only,” he emphasized, before I started to object that I shouldn’t play too much. “You don’t even have to say much. I just think it goes better when you’re there.”
“Why do I think that or why does it go better?”
“I say less stupid shit when you’re around to call me on it,” he said with a shrug. He dug into his food, slicing his bacon with a fork and dipping it in his eggs. (I usually ate mine with my fingers.)
“Sure. What magazine is this?”
“St. Louis Post-Dispatch.”
“Aren’t we in Kansas?”
“We are, but tomorrow we’re in St. Louis and it’s the whole hometown boy makes good story they want, I think.” He mopped up where the yolk had run onto the plate with a limp triangle of toast. “So he’s coming today to talk to us so the story can run tomorrow.”
“Gotcha. How far are we from St. Louis?”
“About four hours, straight shot on the interstate.”
“See, that’s how I know you really went native to New Jersey,” I said.
“How?” He sipped the coffee I’d poured him.
“You answered that question with how long it takes, not how many miles it is.”
He smiled, crow’s feet starting at the corners of his eyes. “True. I guess that is a northeast sort of thing. Well, it’s clear across the state on the other side.”
I really needed to look at a map some time. Maybe the driver would have one. “Sure. When are you talking to him?”
“He should be here around one. I’d like to get it over with before soundcheck.”
“Well, that’s good because if we wait until after soundcheck I’ll be too out of it to keep up a conversation.”
“You sure those pills are all right for you?” Now the wrinkles were between his eyebrows.
“They’re fine, Reem. Don’t worry about me. They just make me kind of foggy.” I poured some fresh coffee into my cup to warm up what was there.
“If you say so.” He finally flagged a server down and she brought him orange juice. He drank it but looked askance at the glass after he put it down empty.
“Not as good as home made?” I guessed.
“Nope. Well, I’ll be back there soon enough.” He checked his watch. “Lobby call’s at one also so I told him to meet us here and we can either sit here or do it in the bus.”
In the end we opted to sit in the somewhat minimal lobby instead of going with the rest of the crew, and the writer would drive us to the venue.
The writer’s name was Will and he had brought a six pack. I don’t know what I was expecting. I guess I was expecting some young guy with a notepad and a list of questions, like Jonathan would have. This guy was Remo’s age at least, had a tape recorder but didn’t seem to talk directly into it at all, and he didn’t ask questions so much as just converse.
In fact, if you hadn’t told me he was a journalist I would’ve thought he was just some old acquaintance of Remo’s. I kept waiting for the “interview” to begin, but they mostly just talked. Bitched, even.
“I hear it’s been bad all over the country, no one’s making money on the road right now,” Will said. “Lotta venues sitting half empty, ticket sales are down all over unless you’re the Lollapalooza Tour.”
“Or us, I guess,” Remo said. “Though sales were mighty soft in the leadup to the tour, we ended up filling a bunch of places. I didn’t realize it was everybody and not just us.”
“Folks would rather sit at home and watch videos than drag their asses out to sit on lumpy grass where they can’t see or hear you properly anyway,” Will said. I nodded in agreement. I didn’t know if that was why concert sales were down but I didn’t have a high opinion of the summer concert experience.
“Well, it probably helped that I said we might not do a big tour like this again. People suddenly stopped taking us for granted and ponied up for the tickets.”
“Yeah, I predict you’ll see a lot of that. Farewell tours and also reunion tours. Gives it that extra urgency.”
For some reason that made me think about the people who came to see me and Bart play that in-store gig at Tower in Maryland. Which wasn’t really a comparison, but it made me wonder how many people had wanted to see Moondog Three and hadn’t had the chance. We hadn’t had much trouble selling out our venues, but then again some of them had only seated three thousand. The biggest one was that one place in Atlanta that was closer to twenty thousand.
You just can’t take anything for granted in this business is what it boils down to.
I tuned back into the conversation when they were talking about me and Remo playing the national anthem before a Cardinals game. I piped up for that. “That could have been a total clusterfuck but it worked out okay.”
“Yeah?” Will said.
“Yeah. They insisted we lip synch it to a recording of us playing it, which meant we had to hurry into a studio to record a version. We’d never played it together so we had to work that out, so that was a bit of a rush job but it came out all right.” I shrugged.
“It’s useful to have a musical prodigy around,” Remo said, and probably would’ve patted me on the shoulder if I’d been sitting close enough. “And then we decided to stay for a couple of innings, and the game got exciting and we stuck it out to the end and then were caught in game traffic and missed our soundcheck.” There was an edge of mischief in his smile. I hope I still get some pleasure out of accidentally playing hooky when I’m fifty.
They meandered into talking baseball for a little while and I zoned out. The six pack was still sitting there–oh, should I specify it was beer? the six pack of beer was still sitting there, unopened, and I puzzled over it. Bringing a six pack of beer to a touring rock band is a little like bringing your own popcorn to a movie premiere, right? I mean, if we really wanted a beer we should’ve just gone with the bus. Except apparently none of us actually wanted a beer. Maybe they were a just-in-case sort of thing, like if the conversation didn’t flow it could be lubricated with the beer. Or maybe it was a journalistic ethics thing where he didn’t want to accept free drinks from us?
I guess I was staring at the beer the whole time I puzzled it over and Will finally noticed and said, “Crack one if you want one.”
“Can’t. I’m on medication for this,” I held up my hand.
Will looked back and forth between us. “Your publicist said I’m not allowed to write about it, but am I allowed to ask about it?”
Remo and I looked at each other. I spoke. “It was just a stupid accident. Ford is at that grabby age. He grabbed a knife, I grabbed it back, and the knife won.” Oversimplification, but the essentials were there.
“Ford?” he asked.
“Me and Melissa’s baby,” Remo clarified. “Shotgun wedding last Christmas,” he added, sounding a bit sheepish.
Will chuckled. “Better than a shotgun divorce.”
“And that,” I said, “is a country song waiting to happen.”
(Since this is our last post before actual Xmas, I thought I’d wish you all happy holidays! For any of you who missed last Christmas or the one before here at DGC, you might have missed the two “holiday specials” we did. They’re kind of like a Charlie Brown special except…not. Daron told us “The Candlelight Story” in 2014 in text, video, and audio, and last year Bart told us his favorite Christmas story, “Hallelujah.” Enjoy, and thank you for all your support in 2016! -ctan)
(Not the first Men Without Hats video we’ve used. Just the one you probably remember. -d)