Our next stop was not, in fact, the same venue where I got burned in the eye. Which was good. That had been a kind of weird little music hall called Bayfront Auditorium. Nomad was playing a much larger place, actually, the Suncoast Dome, a brand-new sports/multi-use venue which hadn’t even been built yet back in 1989.
Maybe it was something about the vivid memories of the explosion that made me revive an old tradition of mine from that tour, which was to be the first one on the stage for soundcheck and to gather the rest of the band by playing some random song by some other band. Maybe that I had sworn off drinking before soundcheck meant I needed something to focus on, too. Maybe that it was something I used to do before “the incident,” as Ziggy had called it. The night homophobia literally blew up in my face and started Ziggy on pain killers. You can’t turn back the clock, but you can change what you do in the future. I decided to try to recapture a little of the innocence (is that the right word? No, it’s totally not…) from before the explosion, and before Ziggy’s fall, and before Mills fucking us. Something from the moment in my life when I was nominally in control of my success. Or something like that.
The song I picked was Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here.” I think I picked it because it’s just a recognizable guitar riff that one guy standing on the stage can do, and not because I was wishing Ziggy was about to climb up out of the security pit like a spider.
I’m such a liar. You know that by now, right? Maybe I’m starting to understand what Ziggy meant by more than one thing being the truth, because I really do believe I didn’t pick the song for that but maybe my brain has ideas of its own.
When he got to the stage Remo said, “What kind of a lounge act is this?” Totally joking, you know, ribbing me for playing a cover tune like some hack in a bar on a Tuesday night.
Something clicked. “Who wants to be tomorrow’s act?” I asked the band in general.
“You serious?” Martin asked.
“Yeah, I’m serious. Soundcheck gets boring. Let’s mix it up a little.”
One of the guys at the sound board, I’m not sure who, shouted, “Yeah!”
“Anybody?” Fran asked.
“A’ight,” Clarice said. “You’re on.”
“So who wants tomorrow?”
“Oh, we’ll take tomorrow,” Clarice clarified with a look around at the rest of them, issuing a bit of a challenge with her eyes.
I grinned. Nothing like a little motivation to keep things interesting.
My mood didn’t stay up, though, in the time gap between soundcheck and the show, when I mentioned the explosion to Flip, and somehow that turned into me telling the story of how it had happened, and that turned into me telling it a second time to more people, and after that I fully confess I needed a beer.
And I know it makes no sense because one beer didn’t even make me feel tipsy at that point, but just having that first gulp gave me a sense of relief. Like a weight lifted off my chest. Weird. Alcohol doesn’t work that fast. But okay.
Jam’s reaction to my story was, “Shit. That’s heavy.”
And I hadn’t even told them the entire story about them graffitizing our bus or any of that shit, just that Megaton were assholes who seemed to think they deserved better than the opening slot and whose cardinal sin was that. Thinking they were entitled to better led to the stupidity of using unapproved pyrotechnics in the first place. That was outraging enough without me having to play up my sexuality. Right?
But then I found myself in a questioning loop, asking myself if I was putting myself back into the closet by not telling that part of the story, and my overall outlook spiraled downward again from there.
The show brought it back up again, but then it was time to get in buses to head overnight to Atlanta… which was where all the homophobic bullshit with Miracle Mile went down, remember? And there we would be playing the same arena, too. I grabbed a pay phone before it was time to roll and paged Ziggy “777” to tell him I was okay. I mean, I was not okay, but I was not in 911 shape either, which to me meant “on the way to the ER.”
Jam sauntered by as I was hanging up the phone. He made the toking motion. I followed him to their bus without hesitation.
A couple hours later we pulled over at a rest area and I moved back to the Nomad bus. I crawled into my own bunk, eyes fully bloodshot, but at least I hadn’t been drinking, right?
So was that day a victory or not? I really don’t know. How about we say it all evened out. I slept well anyway, and didn’t even wake up when the bus parked in Atlanta.
(So, in August 2017 I was in the middle of formatting the DGC Volume 10 ebook and I came to realize, oh crap, there’s an entire chapter that accidentally didn’t get posted. Daron can be a flaky narrator, so when he skipped right from somewhere in Florida to somewhere in Georgia, people just went with it. But it was totally that I’d somehow skipped one while setting up the posts. I’m now moving it to where it should go in the chronology. It *should* have been chapter #748, but turns out maybe the numbering is slightly off as well, so for now I’m just going to call it “The (Previously) Missing Chapter 748” until we have that ironed out. And THEN we can pick a title and video for it! -ctan, Edited on Nov. 11, 2020)
Thanks. It was good to go back to a time when a toke and a 777 page was all it took to calm Daron down.
Sometimes it’s not the pressure that makes glass crack, but the direction it comes from.
Hahaha all this time I wondered where the lounge act thing started.
Thanks for giving us a little Ziggy time, even if it is old. I’m rereading and currently Ziggy is in India, and he’s there but not there in present time. I fucking miss him terribly!
Fwiw, I don’t think you were putting yourself back in the closet by not telling them the homophobic part of the story. I think you were protecting yourself because you weren’t in a frame of mind to deal with their reactions, which would likely have been outrage and defense of you, but still a lot to deal with when your emotions are already mixed up and you are beat down.
I’d been wondering about that, too, and it turns out it starts with one of my top five classic rock songs (some days it’s number 1, if I’m especially maudlin).
Deciding whether to be out in telling a story, even already being out– as queer, as poly– is such a weird little tightrope for me, so I can sympathize with Daron here. I find myself doing that little self-check even when the story isn’t remotely traumatizing, like “Do I tell this person I have the elephant tat because of my girlfriend? Do I explain to my cousin’s mother-in-law that the dog I’m telling the great story about is my girlfriend’s and her husband’s?” Yeah, sometimes you just want to get through the story without stopping to explain those parts or taking up someone else’s reactions, but, man, it can be kind of cringe-worthy to think about afterward, even in a completely safe space.
You know how I feel about that song! <3
I get what you are saying, but I don't think every situation calls for full disclosure. There are plenty of valid reasons not to tell everyone everything.
Yeah, I’m with you in thinking not everything requires full disclosure. My point is that even being out for two decades doesn’t take away that second-guessing and checking whether we’ve inadvertently (or intentionally) put ourselves back in the closet, even in perfectly mundane situations, for some of the exact reasons you named. A lot of it really is about not wanting to deal with someone else’s reactions–and the enthusiastic PFLAG-style ones can be as irritating as the hostile ones–and just needing to get through a story.
It’s a fraught decision to set aside that part of our identity that I don’t think straight people experience. Daron phrases it as ‘having to play up my sexuality,’ and that’s what it feels like when making the call to tell a story or not, to use a certain phrasing or not. It says he thinks things would become about him being gay and not Megaton being Megashits and Miracle Mile being batshit crazy. Bart wouldn’t have that concern, he could just tell the story of them being horrible human beings and that’s all people would hear. For Daron, they’d hear it through the filter of his sexuality and react to that first, and the story itself second.
I hope that all makes sense. I’m processing through this as I’m writing because this particular part of the story has struck a chord with me. I’ve had to make about a dozen and a half quick decisions about coming out or not in the past few weeks, so all the kinds of calculations and second-guessing are really fresh and sharp in my head.
It does make sense, but I think there’s no way Bart isn’t thinking about who he’s talking to and whether or not he should mention the homophobic parts of the story, and not mentioning it out of respect for Daron’s privacy, then wondering if *he* put Daron back in the closet by omitting it. Or at least, that’s how it works for overthinkers like me.
Your personal examples, though. Yeah. You have to be emotionally ready before you go down that rabbit hole. I just don’t want you to beat yourself up if you choose not to do that with someone while making small talk at a family event, you know? Being “out” doesn’t mean you are required to talk about your sexuality. Omitting it doesn’t mean you were hiding it either. Thats how I look at it anyway.
“Fwiw, I don’t think you were putting yourself back in the closet by not telling them the homophobic part of the story.”
This is a problem that transcends personal traits, sexuality, sexual orientation, etc.
I don’t name Ed Teller when relaying advice he gave me; ignorant progressives despise him for his work on the hydrogen bomb. I am careful about whom I tell of my 1960s civil rights marches; ignorant bigots want blood.