841. Meat Puppets

The middle of the night dilemma: Orgasm had relaxed me and a panic attack had cranked me right back up. So, what to do?

Colin gave me a sip of whisky out of his metal flask and ordered me to lie back down. He proceeded to walk the heels of his hands up and down my spine until I was physically relaxed again. Mentally I had woken up enough to start wondering where Ziggy was and then the reflex kicked in that if I didn’t know where Ziggy was, I probably wasn’t supposed to know.

Except shouldn’t I, now? Being partnered and all? Was it that I didn’t know or just that I didn’t remember?

That thought wound me right back up again.

“Daron,” Colin said, feeling me tense up under him. “Everything’s going to be okay.”

“Did I say something to Ziggy that I shouldn’t have?” I asked.

“Not so far as I know,” he said. “Did you have a nightmare or something?”

“Just wondering,” I said, trying to force myself to relax again. Colin kept up his firm but steady mashing of me and eventually my exhausted brain gave up and I fell back to sleep.

I woke up after a few more hours and discovered there’d been a changing of the guard while I was asleep. Colin was gone and Carynne was sitting in a chair on the far side of the room, reading in what daylight leaked around the curtains. When she saw me sit up, she said, “Oh, honeybunch, you don’t have to get up yet.”

For all that my brain was sluggish and underslept, two things were instantly apparent. One, she was there to babysit me; two, everyone else was awake and they were trying to let me sleep extra long.

“What time is it?” I asked. “Don’t they need you at the venue?”

“It’s like ten-thirty and in this country it’s apparently better to have the guys do the yelling.” She moved over to sit on the edge of the bed. “Sounds like you had a rough night.”

Rip that Band-Aid right off, go right at it. “We’re not ready for this gig, Car’. I’m dreading tonight.”

She bit her lip. “Wow. I’ve never heard you say that before.”

“I’ve never felt like this before.” I stared at the palms of my hands. “Remember that time I had that weird bit of stage fright?” Ziggy and I had been fighting, and there was stuff I just wasn’t processing, and I hadn’t been afraid of performing so much as I had been afraid of a lot of unprocessed crap that was coming out as stage fright, but I hadn’t actually been afraid of getting on the stage or of my playing.

“Why didn’t you say something before?” she asked.

Reasonable question, I suppose, but how was I supposed to answer it? “Um, like when? I’m injured, fucked up, trying to gel a new band that has no record deal, make Ziggy happy, and learn my parts, all at the same time. At what point in this process was I supposed to say, excuse me, everything has to be put off for a month because my hand hurts?”

“I know, I know.” She sucked on her teeth in sympathy, or possibly in her own anxiety. “Show time is eight.”

“I know.” I hated how the statement of a simple fact could feel like the sudden drop on a rollercoaster. My stomach did not like this ride called anxiety. “I’m sure the main show will be fine. Maybe a litle rough, first night and all, but–”

“Everyone knows you did everything you could.”

Yeah, to the exclusion of the part of the show that was really mine. “I just don’t know what’s going to happen with Star*Gaze.”

She tapped her lips. “If we cancel, there’s no way to find a replacement in a country where we know no one and don’t speak the–”

“Oh, god are you serious? Cancel?”

She blinked at me. “Of course, I’m serious. If you can’t do it, you can’t do it.”

“I can DO it, I just think it’s going to suck like getting your balls stuck in a Hoover.”

Her face was quite serious. “I wouldn’t know about that.”

“I can do it,” I repeated, hunching my shoulders. “It’s just–” I forced myself to stop and think about what it would be like to cancel. I’d rest my hand. It’d be so easy. I could go back to sleep. I could save myself for Ziggy’s show.

It would be so EASY.

It would also be a huge letdown to Flip. Not to mention it was not my way to back out of a professional obligation short of being actually hospitalized.

Carynne was watching the wheels in my mind turn. “This is all about you not wanting to get up and sing in front of people, isn’t it.”

Stab me through the heart with an icicle, why don’t you? Stopped me cold. “Oh, shit. Is that it?”

“You know none of us understands why you’re such a freak case about that.”

Oh, shit, is that what it actually is?

“You sing great, Daron. Your voice is great, you present yourself authentically, the songs are great, I don’t know why you worry–”

I wasn’t hearing her words, really. I was asking myself over and over: is that it? Is that the actual problem? Why is this such an issue for you?

You know what? Maybe why doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it obviously is an issue. There are baseball players who can’t throw the ball to first base. No one understands that either. Mental block.

But did I have a mental block about my singing or was it more like I was already insecure about it and then on top of that we didn’t have time to rehearse and the combination was paralyzing?

“What do you want to do, D?”

I want to go home and hide for a month and then spend another month doing nothing but rehabbing my hand. But that’s not going to happen.

When I didn’t answer, she went on. “We’re kind of committed, but be serious, you know everyone would be all right if Star*Gaze skipped tonight. It’s that or just power through it, you know?”

“I know.” I let out a breath slowly. “That’s what I keep telling myself. Look. Just tell me that after I get through tonight’s show, I’ll calm down and feel better about everything.”

She patted me on the leg through the blanket. “I’m actually not kidding or just humoring you, you know. I think it’s true. After you get through tonight, you will calm down and feel better about everything.”

Well, okay, maybe that still wouldn’t solve the problem of being injured or the mess in my head about Colin, but at least I tried to be optimistic about it. “We’ve still got to manage my pharmaceutical intake.”

“Me and Flip and Colin are all on the same page about that.” She glanced at her watch. “Speaking of which, you should eat something.”

“I’d really like to go back to sleep,” I said.

“But will you?”

My muscles felt weary, like I’d been carrying heavy things all night long. Building fucking pyramids in my dreams. But I knew what would happen if I tried to lie back down now. I’d eat away my brain from the inside of my skull with acidic worrying. Sigh. I climbed off the other side of the bed. “Probably not.”

“Try a hot shower,” she said. “I’m leaving your key on the dresser, okay?”

Meaning she was going to leave me unsupervised for a while. That should have made me feel better, but it didn’t. In the shower I felt very alone.

(An alternative chart hit from August 1991. Meat Puppets are kind of in the trajectory from Violent Femmes heading toward Green Day. -d)

(Site news: remember, folks, if the tip jar hits $100 we’ll have a Saturday chapter, even if I’m on “half time”. So don’t be shy about donating because you think I’m too busy. I’m actually ahead for the first time in a long time, right now. Aaaahhh! I forgot what it’s like to know what’s going to happen in the next several chapters and have to wait for you all to find out! -ctan)


  • marktreble says:

    It just occurred to me that you have the tools at hand to fix this shit. While Colin massages you, let Ziggy talk to you slowly, rhythmically, doesn’t matter what he says. Colin needs to be sure that you don’t actually fall asleep.

    Then Ziggy tells you he wants you to sing for him tonight, just use a slide on the guitar. He can repeat that several times. You will sing for Ziggy and Ziggy only, and he’ll be the one to hear you.

    When Ziggy touches your cheek right before you go on, you know that you’re singing only for him, and know you can’t fail.

    For the rest of the performances, substitute an acupuncturist for Colin. Less baggage.

    • daron says:

      The slide won’t help. *That* hand is fine. And I know I make a lot of comparisons between Ziggy and vampires but he hasn’t actually got the vampire power of suggestion. Yet, anyway.

      • Kunama says:

        Sounds like hypnosis, actually. Regardless of what it IS, if Daron (you? v. confusing!) can allow himself to believe, I see no reason why this shouldn’t work.

        • sanders says:

          Sometimes we talk directly to Daron as a character, sometimes we talk to Cecilia about Daron, and sometimes we mix the two (although really the whole time we’re just talking to Cecilia technically since Daron lives in her brain). It’s all just a matter of preference, although I’ve wondered sometimes if he hasn’t broken out into a wholly separate corporeal being.

      • marktreble says:

        Yes, it’s hypnosis. Doesn’t have to be called that in order to work. I hypnotized an intelligence source who had been put into a trance by a master on the other side, and given a powerfully-constructed post-hypnotic suggestion not to allow anyone else to hypnotize her. Instead, I called it hypoconscional temporal compression. Out like a light.

        Ziggy’s power of suggestion is irrelevant; the whole thing takes place in Daron’s head. He allows Ziggy into his head, which allows it to work. If the immediate problem is Daron’s reluctance to sing/fear of singing/whatever, then it will work, point nine five level of confidence. I’ve done similar things with other neurotic basket cases.

  • s says:

    It’s been a while since this story made me feel anxious. I’m feeling anxious. Where the hell is Ziggy?!?!

    • daron says:

      I want to know that, too.

    • G says:

      I was just thinking that this is Ziggy’s first concert tonight; he can’t be worried about Daron freaking out, honestly. He could be doing any number of promotional gigs or interviews, or he could be putting himself in the correct headspace for tonight. Now that I’m done freaking out myself about Colin – now I’m just resigned to whatever – that seems really practical to me.

      • s says:

        I agree Ziggy would not be an appropriate babysitter right now. I’m just… surprised? worried? anxious? that he isn’t there and Daron has no memory of why or where he might be. Daron has trained me well; I’m waiting for that damned other shoe…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *