I don’t understand my own ego.
How can I be so invested in self-expression that I’ll tell people it’s my reason for living, and at the same time be so self-effacing I almost erase myself sometimes?
Flip tapped the watch on his wrist to tell me it was time for Vitamin F. I took the bottle out of my jacket pocket–remember, I was carrying it around like a talisman–and tapped one out into my hand. I counted the ones left.
I counted them again. Hadn’t he told me I took two yesterday? But then there should have been one fewer. We were down to single digits in that bottle so it was easy to tell.
Why would he tell me I’d taken one if I hadn’t, though? It was more likely that I misremembered the number of pills left, right?
Unless he was trying to do it for my own good, somehow. I felt suspicious. I hated feeling suspicious. I took the pill, though, and soon felt calmy disconnected from the world.
Ziggy joined me and the gals for a warmup. There was no large shower stall here so we did it in the room designated as their dressing room. We sang through “Amazing Grace” just him and me and Fran held her hand to her cheek and said, “Beautiful.”
“He’s got pipes, all right,” I said.
Clarice swatted me. “Don’t you be putting yourself down.”
“I’m not, but come on, Z’s got a Voice with a capital V.”
Ziggy rolled his eyes a little. “She’s right, you know. You’ve got a fine voice, too, dear one.”
“I have the world’s most generic voice,” I said, and I knew they’d heard me say it before. “It’s nothing special. My pitch is good and Priss’s exercises are helping me be stronger throughout my range, but my voice quality itself? Come on.”
The three of them looked at each other. “You really don’t know what you sound like,” Fran said. “Do you.”
“Of course I do.” I’d been hearing my voice on tape and through PA since I was ten or twelve. “My voice has no special qualities to it. It’s not smoky, or exceptionally clear, or anything.”
“Why do you think that is?” Ziggy asked, cupping his chin with his hand.
“Why? It’s just how it is. I don’t have a burr or an interesting resonance or anything. I have a completely generic voice.”
“Generic.” He and Fran shared a glance. “But you try to sing without adding anything. Without flourishes.”
“Adding flourishes to my singing would be putting sandals on a pig.” I’m not sure if that’s the actual analogy I used, but trust me, it was something equally stupid if it wasn’t that.
Ziggy tried asking the question a different way. “What makes you think that what you hear is a generic voice?”
“Because that’s what I hear.” I was bewildered by this line of questioning and it felt like they were ganging up on me. “What is the problem?”
They decided to let the subject drop and make me do my exercises instead. Which was fine with me. The exercises took concentration but no thought. That was good for my mind.
Some time after soundcheck, though, Ziggy picked up the subject again. “Priss doesn’t work with generic voices.”
“She does when they’re close friends of her two most famous clients,” I said.
“Tsk. Sarah and I are far from her most famous clients.” He’d put a little eyeliner on that day, and just gelled the front of his hair to give it a bit of a controlled wave in the heat and humidity. “I want you to think about something.”
I climbed astride his lap, making the folding chair he was sitting in creak, and laced my fingers through his. “I want to not reevaluate my self image with two shows left on this fucking tour,” I said.
“Honestly, Daron. It’s just this. What if the reason you think your voice is generic is that…it’s your own? It’s the voice you’ve always heard, it’s in your own head, so you’ve made it a kind of default sound–”
I got up quickly. “I told you I didn’t want to reevaluate my self image.”
“La la la not listening!” I went looking for Flip with my hand clenched into a fist.
When I found him we considered our options. “I still think hash oil is the best,” he said. “But half the dose. And have the other half at midnight before we hit the road. And come to think of it, I wonder if instead of a second Flex you do half of one of those, too.”
“Seems worth a try. You’ll have to keep track of–”
“Not to worry. Already on it. Couldn’t find hot chocolate so I made you coffee Daron style.”
In other words, creamy and sweet. I couldn’t tell if he’d used some kind of flavored creamer, you know, hazelnut or something, or if that was the hash oil I was tasting.
I was calmer after that. And I didn’t get into any arguments with anyone because the drugs made me quiet. Ziggy took the opportunity to be quiet with me. We sat together in the bus, him reading a book and occasionally running his fingers through my hair, me staring at nothing except sometimes the ring on my finger. I’d gotten used to the red streaks in my hair more quickly than I was getting used to the ring, but that shouldn’t have surprised me, I guess. The ring meant more.
Court found us at one point and asked Ziggy, “He doing all right?”
“I’m right here, you know,” I said. “You could just ask me.”
“He’s in a mood today,” Ziggy replied to her.
“I’m tired of everyone treating me like I’m barely hanging on and might not make it,” I snapped.
Ziggy kissed me on the cheek and looked me in the eye. “Daron. Dear one. You know why people treat you like that?”
“No, and it bugs the fuck out of me.”
I think Courtney was suppressing a laugh.
Ziggy was dead serious. “Because they think that you are barely hanging on and might not make it,” he said quietly, but firmly.
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“We might all be wrong, but the only way to change what we think is to prove us wrong,” he said. “You got, what, maybe three hours sleep last night?”
“And you’re wondering why I’m irritable?”
“Not wondering at all, dear one.”
“Well, stop worrying. Adrenaline will get me through tonight’s show and then hopefully I’ll crash on the bus tonight. In a good way,” I added. “If I can make it through tonight, we’re golden.”
“If you say so,” Ziggy said with a nod. “But for someone with what you’ve got in your system, you seem unusually high strung.”
“Maybe because everyone is on my case all the time?”
Court shrugged. “He might be right about that.”
“Or he might not,” Ziggy said. “I’m going to take a nap. You want to lie down with me?”
“Sure. Court, will you tell Flip we’re in my bunk?”
“Will do.” She hopped off the bus and Ziggy and I climbed into my bunk side by side. He fell asleep almost immediately, while I was left awake wondering, why exactly was I so anxious? Was worrying that my hand was going to cramp up making me anxious? Or was anxiety what made my hand cramp up? Those two thoughts chased each other around and around, winding me up even more, until Flip came to tell us it was time to get ready for the show.
(You guys! Look how close to another Saturday post we are! As I post this it’s only
$37 $32 shy of hitting the mark… wow. A lot of you want to read that Ziggy POV bonus, apparently! Keep it up and I’ll keep writing faster! Meanwhile guess what’s coming TOMORROW? An actual liner note! We haven’t had one in forever, I know, but come back tomorrow for that, too, ok? -ctan)
Donation link: https://www.paypal.me/daronmoondog