(Happy Fourth of July everyone!)
I was not in the mood for a party after the show, but there was going to be one whether I was in the mood or not. When you drag a bunch of young, creative people partway across the planet and then have several thousand people scream adulation at them, some partying is inevitable, but especially on opening night. And especially given that everyone knew how hard we’d worked to get this show to where it was.
Our plane wasn’t due to leave until well into the next day so it wasn’t like we had to be awake early. So, yeah, people wanted to celebrate and they deserved to, too. (That is, the band and performers didn’t have to be awake early. A lot of the crew had to be involved with load out and getting the equipment onto the plane. Never forget that, even when I forget to mention it.)
I was just glad the show was over.
The party itself took over the whole first floor of the hotel, spilling out of the bar/restaurant into the lobby. Now, normally when a rock band takes over a hotel the party is a debauchery attended by all manner of hangers on, from groupies to celebrity-wannabes to industry types whose palms are getting greased and who are there to schmooze with each other. This party was also like that, but the weird part was that, at least according to Carynne, a lot of the schmoozers were actually local political party leaders. They of course all wanted to meet Ziggy.
I stayed out of the way of all that. What I did do was try to go around to every member of the band to tell them I thought they’d been great and make sure they were happy. I did this on the theory that if everyone else was okay, then it didn’t matter as much that I was a wreck.
Far as I could tell, everyone else was, in fact, okay, so I retreated to a corner of the bar with a bottle of Gatorade that Flip had given me and I nursed it while watching people carousing with each other.
I was not too surprised when Bradley joined me in the corner. We bumped fists and sat in silence for a while. I seemed to recall doing this before with him, at other parties, like at Jordan’s.
Where we were sitting we had a very good view of Josie and Colin getting into an arm-wrestling challenge. I don’t know how it started. Now, recall both of them were built like bean poles with muscles. Wiry but strong. Colin could do a lot of pull-ups and, well, Josie was a professional dancer.
Bradley might have drooled as the two of them postured at each other while the crew and many of the locals chose sides. They might have been placing bets. One of the locals served as referee as the two of them took their places on either side of a cocktail table. They put their elbows down and clasped hands. Colin was wearing a black T-shirt with the sleeves cut off and Josie was in a peach-colored tank top, giving us a clear view of their guns.
Who are you putting your money on, Josie or Colin? I would have bet on Colin, but really, if you appreciate the male physique then you win. They were fairly evenly matched, which meant some really long seconds of straining against each other while everyone around them shouted encouragement. Or maybe just shouted.
And then Josie slammed Colin’s hand against the table and I winced. (Ow, my hand.) Josie whooped in triumph and Colin shook out his arm while Josie was congratulated with slaps and claps.
Bradley and I looked at each other and shared an amused shrug. I figured that the show was over and I stood to go, but then the crew started chanting, “Flip! Flip! Flip!” They weren’t chanting for Josie to do a backflip but for everyone’s favorite guitar tech and tour pharmacist. I sat back down.
So then Flip and Josie faced off. Again, who would you bet on?
Maybe Josie was fatigued from having just wrestled Colin. Flip won decisively, making the roadies roar.
I think the arm wrestling may have continued late into the night. But I decided I should put myself to bed. Ziggy was still playing the part of goodwill ambassador to the local delegates and I didn’t even dare blow him a kiss in that crowded room. I managed to get Carynne’s ear and told her I was going to crash. She gave me a kiss on the cheek which only seemed to accentuate how little contact I’d had with Ziggy.
I opened my hotel room door to the sound of female giggling. There were two of them on the bed, apparently making out with each other? They were a matched set, glossy black hair and tawny faces, with identical gleeful smiles when they saw me. I went from thinking I was in the wrong room, to thinking they were in the wrong room, to realizing they were waiting for me specifically, in the course of about three eyeblinks.
Neither of them spoke much English except for words about sex, it appeared, which raised my suspicions that maybe they weren’t just local groupies but maybe some kind of professionals. And my Spanish was so rusty that I could remember how to tell them to listen to me (“escucha”) but not how to say anything after that. The phrase I was trying to remember was “wait here.” It was sort of similar but I just couldn’t come up with it on the spur of the moment.
Meanwhile they were sort of all over me. It was like trying to keep two cats out of your lap while you’re eating a can of tuna. I was sort of deflecting them while trying to figure out how to get myself out of the situation without spilling tuna everywhere. Metaphorically speaking. I mean, I didn’t want them to think I didn’t like them, like there was something wrong with them, but I also didn’t want to let on why I wasn’t into them, so my gentle redirections of their affections included some nuzzling and ear-kissing on my part in the midst of my excuses and protestations. Their hairspray or shampoo made my nose itch like I was going to sneeze.
They decided I couldn’t understand them and started talking to each other in-between broken English entreaties and enticements to me. They were both using the word “gitarista.” I am pretty sure they were making sure I was the right guy. One of them might have said something like “But guitarists always want sex.” Maybe even “guitarists are always straight.” I didn’t know all the words they used.
I finally remembered the words I was trying to: “Espera. Espera aqui.” My grammar was off, but the message got through. They let me go, now a bit chagrined that maybe I knew some Spanish after all, covering their faces as they giggled.
I went back to the bar, resolving whoever I came to first, Flip, Colin, or Carynne, I’d tell, knowing full well each of them might have a different solution to the problem. As it was, Flip caught sight of me the moment I appeared in the lobby and was by my side in a matter of seconds, despite the throng of partiers, which if anything had grown even larger.
“You need something?”
He meant in the pharmaceutical sense, I think, so I said, “No, but I need help with two chicks in my room.”
Flip laughed. “Why did you let two girls into your room?”
“They were already there, in their lingerie, when I got there.”
“Wily! I like wily women.”
“Yeah, well, they might like you, too. I think they think guitar players are the best in bed or something.”
“Okay. You’re sure you’re not interested in giving it a try? There are two of them.”
That made me pause a second. Flip didn’t know about me and Colin and the gals in Cleveland. “Been there, done that,” I said. “Definitely not for me.”
“Okay, just making sure. You know. I didn’t used to like eggplant but I tried it again every couple of years just to check.”
“Didn’t used to?”
“Yeah, I like it now just fine. Go figure.” He shrugged and dug in his pocket. “Take my key and crash in my bed, and I’ll take yours.”
We went to toward the elevator together. “If you want don’t want to handle them both, Colin’s a good choice for a wing man,” I mentioned.
“I’m sure he is, but I think I can handle it,” Flip assured me, flexing his arm-wrestling-winning bicep.
We came to his room first and he pointed me at which bed was his and then left. I piled most of my clothes on a chair, used my finger to “brush” my teeth with some of Flip’s toothpaste, and then crawled into the sheets and crashed.
Tomorrow, Colombia, I thought.
(Today’s song is another summer of 1991 hit but it’s a cover of a James Brown tune. -d)