You walked in
Just like smoke
With a little come on, come on, come on
In your walk
My boots clacked against the wooden floor as I walked towards Karen while she chatted up J.Z, the production manager for The Twilight Singers as they did sound check. Karen had called me two nights prior from Chicago, screaming into the phone about how great the show was. “I HUGGED GREG DULLI!” she screamed over the roar of the crowd and into my ear. Now, forty-eight hours later we were in Detroit waiting for the show to begin.
I held my breath.
“The Afghan Whigs may or may not have met in a jail cell; but the boys from Cincinnati, Ohio, did love trouble.”
I’ll warn you, if cornered,
I’ll scratch my way out of the pen
Wired, an animal
The claustrophobia begins
I used to tell people that I was very shy in large groups and settings. People would often guffaw at this, because of my vivacity and saucy personality would override that statement in one to one contact. Later, I realized that I was not so much shy as I was an observer. I love sitting back and watching people in situations and wonder about what the hell they thought they were doing. Fodder for future writings, I was more content to be the “wallflower” at social gatherings than being the center of attention. But, what usually ended up happening is that I would click with someone and my sauciness would end up peeking out beneath the quiet exterior.
We had driven from Grand Rapids to Detroit for the show and planned on heading back home afterwards. On the two plus hour drive, I had asked Karen if she was vivacious at shows. Silly question, she was hyper personified. “Look,” I said as I pushed my car faster towards Detroit, “I’m an observer. I like watching and making catty comments about people. I don’t want you to think I’m not having a good time or that I’m bored or whatever. I don’t want to cramp your style.” She laughed as she assured me I would not cramp her style.
“Original band members were: Rick McCollum (b. 14 July 1965, Kentucky, USA; guitar), Steven Earle (b. 28 March 1966, Cincinnati, USA; drums) and John Curley (b. 15 March 1965, Trenton, New Jersey, USA; bass), and frontman Greg Dulli (b. 11 May 1965, Ohio, USA; vocals/guitar).”
don’t forget the alcohol
ooh baby ooh baby
don’t forget the alcohol
>ooh baby ooh baby
Karen and I meandered over to the bar. I had to keep my drinking to a minimum as I was the one driving, especially after having purchased a brand new car. We ordered JagerBombs, Harps Lager, and water.
1 oz of Jägermeister
6 oz of RedBull
Drop the shot of Jägermeister (shot glass and all) into the glass of RedBull and drink.
We walked over to a table, balancing our plastic cups of liquor and my Harps beer bottles. I looked over at Karen, “I’m not quite sure how to do this. I’ve never done it with plastic cups before.” The plastic was too light for the shot of Jägermeister to sink into the bottom of the glass of RedBull, so it ended up floating – making it impossible to drink. Karen dumped her shot directly into the RedBull and gulped the concoction down. I followed suit, tossing our plastic cups into the trash when we were finished. We wandered up towards the stage where people had already clustered. My boots clacked louder on the wooden floor.
“After releasing an independent album (Big Top Halloween), the band was signed to Seattle’s famed Sub Pop Records. While their sound was gritty and raw, like their labelmates, the Whigs injected elements of country, blues, and most strikingly, R&B into their music. After two full-length releases and a slew of singles for Sub Pop, the band moved to the big leagues with their breakthrough album, Gentlemen.”
We had arrived a few minutes before the doors were to open at eight pm, but we ended up waiting out front for another twenty minutes in the freezing Detroit weather. We listened to various conversations while we were in line and rolled our eyes at the inanity of people. We got catty about people’s appearance and inserted quips to other peoples conversations:
“Hey Joe’s here!”, we heard randomly in the night.
Karen looked at me, “Hey! Joe’s here!”
“Let the par-tay begin! Joe’s here!”
One of the conversations we overheard was a girl telling her companion that someone had said to her that while love was four letter word as was the word fuck. As was the word shit. The girl babbled to her companion about how she sat there all day coming up with other four letter words. “Poop! Poop is a four letter word!” Karen looked at me and shook her head, “I hate people.” I nodded sagely, shoving my hands deeper into the pockets of my leather coat. “Look behind you,” I said. Karen, who is shorter than me by a good six inches, started inching in front of me to peek around me, thinking I was talking about a hot guy. “No, look at how long the line has grown since we got here!” I insisted. We both stared wide eyed as the line wrapped around the block.
Now I know my heart
Is being used
But what I’m not allowed to have
I never could refuse
No matter what I tried 2 do
I stood accused
It was foggy and dark outside. I was crying and Miguel was fumbling around to hand me a tissue while he kept one hand on wheel, driving eighty miles in a tractor trailer. I kept my head turned, staring out the window, watching the scenery pass by in a blur. The week had been an curvature of emotions. High. Low. High again, threatening to sink deep into an abyss. He touched my arm gently and I violently shook away as he tried to hand me a tissue.. “I don’t want you to look at me” I said. “There are going to be a lot of tears shed when this is all said and done,” he said sadly.
I said nothing.
He reached out for my hand, which I gave him. Silently, we held hands while the miles roared by.
How can you describe the feeling when you look into someone’s eyes or feel their touch against your skin? Electric. Almost burning. The tension that binds a golden rope between two souls.
I had not seen Miguel in a decade. In that time I had lived all over the country. I had aged. I had grown and matured. I had dated relentlessly and broke up violently. I never married. I never had kids. I was thirty-one years old and in college, starting my life over from scratch and all I had to show was hellacious CD and book collections, gadgets, and two pugs. Relationships had come and gone with such voracity that I kept feeling like I had to carry a book of who was who as every time I said “my ex,” I had to explain who the hell the ex was! I was getting tired and restless looking for the perfect love. I was tired of the dating scene, the inanity of shallowness of the conversations, and the tumultuousness of my own feelings. There was always something not quit right about the men I dated, and it was always I who ended up walking away.
On my move back to Grand Rapids, I absolved school was going to be my only passion. I was not going to date for a solid year (no booty calls to local exes, no half-hearted relationships, nothing, nada, zip!). I lied. I fell into a half-hearted relationship with Danny. I sat in his car one sunny afternoon, with tears streaming down my face, gesturing wildly with the car door open and the engine still running. One foot on the cement while he said nothing as I talked, with the other still in the car. My bags scattered between my legs. I felt trapped between two worlds, the one outside the car and the one inside.
I laid my heart out on the floor which he smashed it like someone putting out a cigarette butt with his silence. I could almost feel the twist and turns of the ball of his foot as he sat there, saying nothing while I kept talking, daring myself to not turn to look at him. Do I stay or did I go?
I left, slamming the car door behind me. I had every hope that he would park his car and follow me up to my apartment. To talk about things. I waited in my kitchen, hands on both sides of the sink, taking deep breaths. Minutes passed slowly and the knock at the door never came.
This ain’t about regret
My conscience can’t be found
This time I won’t repent
Somebody’s going down
One night, while working late on a paper, my thoughts ran back to Miguel. He had been entering my dreams recently, with almost a vengeance. I had tried for years to find him via the Internet. Nothing ever came up despite how relentlessly I searched. I was beginning to think he was dead or had eradicated himself completely from the world in some fashion. In 2001, when I was back in Grand Rapids to take care of my mother, I ran into a mutual friend of ours who told me Miguel had been looking for me. Josh had not seen me in a few years and had no idea where I was these days, so seeing me was also a surprise. Josh gave me some generalities where Miguel was located. Once I got back to DC, I found an address for Miguel’s place of business and wrote him a letter.
I never heard a word nor was the letter returned.
I knew a girl, extraordinary
Suggested something, unsanitary
As I asked her for a moment
To consider her kind offer
She blew a kiss and said to me…
Karen is a one woman Welcome Wagon. She had told me of all the people she had met at the Chicago shows and was looking forward to the Detroit show, with me in tow. She had flirted with J.Z., who had kept her mildly entertained while we were waiting. Karen’s ability to go up to strangers and introduce herself to them, celebrity or not, was a trait I admired. I had seem to lately gather friends who had the ability to do that, while I stood in the background making smartass comments or laughing darkly. Carrie, a blonde with the most natural gorgeous features I had ever seen, was watching Karen and I as we got more animated. Carrie struck up a conversation with us about the show, and Karen launched into party hostess mode. When J.Z. motioned to Karen to follow him backstage, I sat on the stage, smoking a cigarette while I talked to Carrie about the show. I sipped my Harps while she told me how she found out about The Whigs and the path that lead her to Detroit. I asked questions and gave answers as we talked about things we had in common. Our favorite songs, our favorite albums. Who else we were into and what our plans were for the night ahead.
Secrets were laid from both of us at the tips of our shoes as we talked, the crowd getting thicker as time progressed. My Harps gone, I called Karen’s cell to find out where she was. I soon saw her ponytail bobbing as she walked towards us, excitedly telling us about how she and J.Z. were geeking out on the back stage on a laptop. Karen offered to get us refills on our drinks, declaring “I’m not intimidated by these people!” while she was gesturing towards the crowd. She left with a bounce in her step, ponytail bobbing as she disappeared into the melee.
“Gentlemen drew heavily on the band’s past themes; but put a fresh spin on the traditional concept album. The videos for “Debonair” and “Gentlemen” got regular airplay on MTV. Steve Earle was replaced by Paul Buchignani.”
I was tired of Miguel entering my thoughts and dreams like a demon lover, with his appearances becoming more prominent with time. I logged into classmates.com, where I had seen an entry for him six months prior and discovered he was no longer listed. When I had first seen the entry, I had called a friend of mine to tell her excitedly I had found him and dropped him a note. She told me that people had been complaining about fake entries on the website and suggested when I had not received a response, that his might had been one of the fakes. “Why would someone create a fake entry for HIM?” I demanded. She gave no answer and he was pushed out of my mind again.
Sitting there, mouth feeling like a party I wasn’t invited to and eyes drooping from working so late into the night, I got the bright idea to check the local phone book. My searches on the Internet had proved to be fruitless, and even though he was a man of mystery, it was a long shot.
I padded into the kitchen, digging out the local white pages and flipping to the D’s. Finger going down, line by line, as I searched for his last name. I looked at the page. I looked away, convinced my eyes were playing tricks on me. Looked back. Yes, it was true! He was fucking listed in the phone book! For the last ten months I had been living in Grand Rapids, he was listed in the damn phone book! I stood there openmouthed and grabbed an envelope. I ran back to my laptop, saved my paper and opened up a new draft. “Miguel, “ I began, “There is too much to contain in nearly a decade of not seeing each other on simple paper. So let me begin with this instead,” I wrote. I wrote a few things, signed it, included my phone numbers and put the envelope on top of my coat to drop off the next day. I expected the worse and hoped for the best.
The letter was dropped off in the local mail on Friday.
The next day, I was laying down, my lower half exposed as I was getting tattooed. Erika had came along for the ride as I had told her how much I loved my tattoo artist Pip and she should meet him. As we giggled, laughed and talked while the ink and needles went into my skin, my cell phone rang. “Indiana Jones theme!” Pip laughed as I answered my cell. “Hello?”
Black is the color of my true love’s hair
Her face so soft and wondrous fair
The purest eyes
and the strongest hands
It was Miguel.
For forty-eight minutes we talked, me giggling so loudly and with my whole body that I kept getting smacked from Erika to stop wiggling. Miguel wanted to see me right that second and I told him what I was doing.
“You’re getting tattooed?”
“Yah, it’s my ninth one.”
“You have NINE tattoos?”
We agreed to meet at a restaurant near the tattoo shop when I was done. I was nervous, my stomach in knots and I felt like shit. I had dressed in comfortable clothes and hadn’t had time to go home and get beautified. Erika sat across from me, beaming each other stuff from our PDA’s, sipping water as we waited.
I was still holding my breath.
When he walked in, looking for me, I felt my heart lurch to my stomach as he wandered around the bar. Erika and I were sitting in back, with me facing the door so I could keep an eye for his appearance. He had not changed one iota in ten years. To me, he was still beautiful. I stood up as he walked towards me, cocky grin on his face. I reached out for him and we embraced.
My brother had called while we were waiting and had also wanted to see Miguel. My brother showed up with his roommate and the five of us sat there talking and laughing until the bar did last call. Because of the lateness of the hour, we opted to go to Steak ‘N’ Shake for a bite to eat, as Erika and I were both starving. The five of us walked out to our cars, I noticed it was like a progression of social class. Miguel drove an Audi, Erika drove a Paseo and my brother drove a worn down ’89 Cadillac. I smirked as I told Erika this as we got into her car.
Later in the evening, Miguel drove me home and I invited him up to my apartment. We sat there for hours talking and watching Powerpuff Girls. All I wanted to do was touch him. Confirm that he was real. That this was not a dream. We talked about getting together for dinner the next day as he was walking out the door and once again, I was left with wondering if I would ever see him again.
“In 1998, the Whigs released their most upbeat and pop album, 1965. The musicianship and fierceness were still there; but they were prefaced with a new, fun attitude. The band was also joined by a new drummer, Michael Horrigan. Critics loved the album, and the tour supporting it was possibly the best of their career.”
Karen had found out that Twilight Singers were going to get on stage between 10 and 10:30 pm. We stood there sipping our drinks and watching the crowd grow larger. In stocking feet, I stand about six feet tall (give or take a big hair day). In boots, I was towering in at about 6’2-6’3. I had a clear eye shot across the heads of the crowd as they mingled, waiting for the band to appear. J.Z. appeared on stage, lighting incense and taping the set list to the floor. Chants of “DULLI! DULLI!” started rumbling from the crowd as the lights began to dim while the band was walking out. Greg Dulli walked out on stage, half a cigarette already burned and grabbed a guitar. I was standing no more than six feet from him, about the same distance when I saw The Afghan Whigs play The Fillmore in San Francisco in 1998. I felt the energy in the crowd become more infectious, as the crowd pushed forward towards the stage.
I started to breathe again.
What should I tell her?
She’s going to ask
If I ignore it, it gets uncomfortable
She’ll want to argue about the past
>Still I think she believes me
Every word I say
I think I’m starting to believe it all myself