Show day. Every time I turned around, Rogelio, Marvelle, Brad, and Chris were doing the samba march drum thing. The thing about a drum cadence is you can do it endlessly. It’s not like a song that has a beginning and an end–it just goes around and around. So they’d do it until someone told them to knock it off.
Which meant it was usually me telling them to knock it off. I wasn’t used to telling musicians to rehearse less. It felt weird. And I think they thought I was pissed off at them–I wasn’t, but I did have a headache and also every time they started up, someone else would give me a dirty look like it was my fault we were being subjected to this unexpected noise. So then they were pissed off at me. Everyone was pissed off at me. I was pissed off at myself and I didn’t even know why.
Some role model.
But, you know, everyone has up days and down days on tour and I tried not to worry about it. Star*Gaze soundcheck went fine. I didn’t sing much, just a couple of verses, the absolute minimum to get my mic and monitor levels adjusted, and the rest of the time was getting the cello and keyboard sound right. I kind of wished we could have a cello and guitar jam that went around and around like a drum thing even though I wasn’t playing the guitar part. I wanted to stick my head in a bucket of music, basically, if that makes sense. A quickie soundcheck wasn’t going to do it.
I calmed down during Ziggy’s soundcheck, though. For a little while, everything was fine. I was doing my job, the band was fine, the dancers did their own checks of the stage and risers, and Ziggy was there. Eveything was fine.
And then came the hour or two of dread that preceded the actual Star*Gaze set. About a half hour before we went on, I was so nauseous I seriously began to wonder if I’d eaten something bad, but it felt more like I was so anxious I was on the verge of turning myself inside out.
I was going to try to just power through until my hand started to cramp, too. So I went straight to Dr. Flip.
Who as you know was not an actual doctor. “Tell me what’s going on?”
“I’m getting so keyed up not only is my hand in knots, so’s my stomach. I think I might puke.”
“Do you think puking will make you feel better?”
“Ugh. I don’t really want to have to find out.” I was huddled on a chair backstage, wearing my jacket backwards like a blanket. “I’m like… ridiculously nervous. This isn’t like me.”
He nodded. “It isn’t. Well, it has been two days since you took a Vitamin F, hasn’t it?”
“That’s probably what’s going on. You’ve gotten used to a certain amount of it in your system to keep you relaxed. Once it’s gone, everything gets very much un-relaxed.”
Oh. That sounded totally logical. “But the reason I wanted to not take it on non-show days was to keep from getting habituated.”
“I don’t think there’s any avoiding getting habituated, D. It just takes longer if you give yourself days off.”
“Ah. Okay.” I guess I knew that, but I was sort of hoping it wasn’t really true. Or that by the time I got habituated we’d be home. We were still two weeks from being home. “What should I do?”
“Same thing we’ve been doing,” he said.
“Okay, but could I drink the Gatorade separately? It’s one of the most vile things ever with bourbon in it.”
Flip had a little bit of a sadistic streak, I think. “Is it? I think it depends on the flavor. Which one did you do last time?”
“The blue one, I think?”
“Here, try it with the red one and see if it’s any better.”
It was not any better, so I chugged it down as quickly as possible, and the result of downing that much sugar and alcohol simultaneously was a near instant head rush. Which was fine. It meant a) my headache went away, b) my nausea went away, c) my inhibitions went away and I screamed myself hoarse when I got on stage.