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)