Two days later, Bernard came by the rehearsal space with Linn and set up a traveling hair salon in one of the restrooms. I decided I couldn’t worry about what was going on with costumes or hairstyles even though underneath I was anxious about it. At some point months ago Linn had taken my measurements so I knew something was in the works but we hadn’t talked about it in forever. So I pretended it wasn’t happening and concentrated on the music.
The music. Played straight up with a pick on the Fender, the songs returned to more or less generic pop. Maybe that’s okay, I told myself. Maybe that’s good. The band is just a backdrop for Ziggy here, just a part of the stage setup. The less attention was on me–us–the easier it would be to hide my injury.
It was fairly impossible to hide it from the band, though. Trying to work through the material, to learn the changes I hadn’t yet made smooth, to make things second nature, revealed a lot of my shortcomings. Maybe it was mostly that they’d rehearsed it more than I had, but I felt like it was that my hand didn’t do what I wanted it to.
We were only on the third or fourth song of the day, not even two hours into the rehearsal. I nearly dropped the guitar pick, caught it, then threw it at the floor in frustration.
Bart stepped in. “Okay, okay. Everybody take five. I’ve gotta pee anyway.”
I never saw them scatter faster. This was when Ziggy was downstairs with the dancers and Chris was off having his hair done.
Bart came over to me, set the guitar aside, and took my hand in both of his. “Stop gritting your teeth. I’m not going to hurt you.”
“You’re not what’s making me grit my teeth.”
He pressed my palm between his, like the ham in a sandwich. “It’s not as bad as you think.”
“I’m not as bad, you mean?”
“Yeah. Give it a little time, Daron.”
“Time is the one thing we don’t have.”
“Yes, we do. We’ve got seven rehearsal days left. That’s plenty.”
I looked him in the eye. “You know we haven’t even touched the opening band material.”
“We can worry about that starting Monday. Okay? Until then, don’t think about it.”
I blinked. “You’re okay with avoidance?”
“If I’m planning to go to the laundromat on Saturday, then it’s not ‘avoidance’ on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday,” he said. “This is going slower than we would’ve liked. Fine. We’re going to work through the weekend with the dancers and by Monday we’ll be able to take some time for the three of us. Before then, there’s no use thinking about it.”
“We could stay late tonight–”
“We could go grab a drink tonight and strategize while you soak your hand,” he said firmly, giving me a squeeze. “But if all that’ll do is wind you up more, might as well just wait.”
“Okay.” I found myself staring over his head suddenly, though. I had an idea of something that might work. But I was going to have to think about it later. Still, just having an idea made me feel better.
“There a second thing?”
He raised an eyebrow. “I know you don’t want to take it out on us, but taking it out on yourself isn’t helping.”
“Taking what out? My frustration, you mean?”
“Exactly. Chill out a little. We’re going to be fine.”
Chill out. I had been thinking maybe it was a good idea to hold off on Vitamin F until I really needed it, but here we were at only one in the afternoon and it was seeming like a good idea. “Okay.” This is the thing. I was concerned I might become dependent on the drug. I was concerned it might warp my brain or I might get so hooked on it that getting off it would be hell. So I thought I was being careful.
I checked in with Chris, who was our resident expert on addiction and recovery, at our next break. His new hairdo was going to take some getting used to. They had put it in a sort of partial ponytail that gave him a somewhat Viking look, with an electric blue streak along one temple.
“I’m thinking of taking a Flexeril,” I said. “A couple hours earlier than my usual regimen.”
“What’s your usual regimen?”
We were standing by the stage. “On the tour I went from one a day to two, one right before soundcheck and one right before showtime.”
“And how many a day are you supposed to take?”
“The doctor said two was fine. Max of four if I needed to every six hours, but I haven’t come close to that.”
He looked me, then at his watch. “If you used to take one right before soundcheck…wouldn’t that be within an hour from now, anyway?”
I looked at the time. Nearly two in the afternoon. “Oh, you’re right.”
“So it’s almost time anyway.”
“Yeah. You know how I am about losing track of time.” I felt a little embarrassed anyway.
Chris smiled. “Dude, usually an addict knows exactly how long it is until the next fix. I take it as a healthy sign that you’re not like that. But it’s good that you’re keeping an eye on your usage.” He nodded. “It’s healthy to be concerned about whether your habits are healthy ones or not.”
“I guess I am still a little worried I’m going to take too much. You know, once I’ve taken one, I don’t have the clearest head. What if I forget?”
“Do you want me to hold the bottle for you?”
“No offense, but wouldn’t that be tempting fate?” I asked.
“Good point,” he said. “Maybe someone else, then, if you’re really worried. But that raises the question of how this jibes with the tour being drug free?”
My mouth hung open. “I…have no idea. That is soooo not my department.”
Speaking of not my department, then it was my turn to see Bernard. Feeling reassured by Chris’s assessment, though, I took a Vitamin F and went to the restroom to find out what they were going to do to me.
(‘nother one from the Billboard “alternative” charts, first week of September 1991. -d)