Happy Birthday Eric” You Wild Man,To Times Gone” to you too.Who would have thought WE would have lasted this long. Cheers and To Sir, with Love, Sherry. So for free today, Here is the story of how we first met.
EVEN ROCK AND ROLL HAS FAIRY TALES: The Flight of the Shiny Happy Sherry Fairy
CHAPTER ONE: THE FLIGHT OF THE FAIRY
By the time the sun started to rise over the Great Lakes I had almost managed to convince myself that maybe I wasn’t crazy after all. Stressed? Sure. Way too old for this nonsense?
Okay, you got me there! Thirty-eight was way too old and it was way too late to run away from home, so that was a very good possibility. Exhausted?
No, not just yet, still a bit too soon and too early in the trip. I was bound to get that way at some point, but I would worry about that when it happened.
At the moment, I was having fun. That was the important thing. The most fun I had had in years.
The Shiny Happy Sherry Fairy takes flight again! And I loved every moment of it.
The closer I got to my destination, the more convinced I was that this was the right choice. With every mile I left behind me, I could feel myself becoming more exhilarated. There was no mistaking it! Magic was in the air. Or maybe it was out there waiting just for me, around the next corner, all this time. Okay, more like hundreds of miles away. Wondering what the hell had taken me so long. I was getting closer every minute I could already feel it. I was sure it had begun to feel me. Approaching rapidly and relentlessly, running years too late, but inevitably one of these days bound to arrive.
I guess it was a somewhat reckless decision on my part, at close to 10 p.m. on a perfectly ordinary Thursday night, to take off on a long distance road trip to see a man in a band; just like back in the good old days when I was young and foolish, with no real life, no actual responsibilities, and no fear or common sense at all. In this case, this band featured my old flame, Eric Burdon, sinner, singer and front-man extraordinaire, formerly founding member of one of the world’s greatest classic British invasion bands. My very favorite man of all the men who made music in any band I had ever seen or known, and the reason I was spending all night tearing wildly down the highway in the family minivan headed for a weekend-long festival, hundreds of miles from home.
The morning light (what little of it there was, so far) had emerged above the horizon, as pure and bright as liquid silver, sparkling, shimmering, and pulsating. I had never seen anything quite like it before, and I am sure I never will again in this lifetime. Gentle but relentless mists of rain had been thoroughly drenching the van for hours, providing a damp silent cloud that muffled and masked every exterior sound. A thick, dense fog was slowly emerging from the mirror-like surface of the lake. Steam lifted from the highway in the rapidly rising late July morning heat. The tires were kicking out a spray of fine water vapor almost as high as the windows.
It was impossible to tell anymore what was sky, air, water, or ground and exactly at what point they separated, started, or stopped. Everything around me was in shades of grey, but in every conceivable texture, consistency, and variation. The whole world had turned into a soft, out-of-focus, black and white silent film. It was all so extraordinarily strange for someone so unfamiliar with the phenomenon and far from home, yet somehow perfectly appropriate and exquisitely beautiful.
I am the only thing in full, vivid, glorious Technicolor. When the sun finally does manage to creep its way through the fog from the lake and take a quick peek over the horizon, I can tell it is embarrassed to show itself because it cannot begin to compete with my heat, outshine my colors, or ever hope to melt my wings. I fly high tonight on old memories and new dreams, fueled by unforgettable emotions, promises from the past, and cheap truck stop speed washed down with huge Styrofoam cups of powerful, lukewarm black coffee.
I almost wish I were chain smoker.
There should be a cloud of aromatic silver smoke swirling inside the van as well, intoxicating me, with the scent of the thrill of ever distant, unfamiliar air that meant freedom. Sucking it down, drawing it in, as if I need it just to keep breathing. Trailing flaming sparks and blackened ash, more like gunpowder than fairy dust as I soar along the highway. Firing up a new fresh buzz and frantically stubbing out the drained remains of the old one, with cotton-candy-colored chipped and chewed fingernails as each minute and mile passed, the tray filled to overflowing as the spent remnants tumbled out all over the carpet.
It certainly would have suited a character in the divine melodrama currently featured. However, in this reel I was cast and costumed to be the Glamorous Starlet. Certainly not destined to be the Figure of Tragedy or the Villain but quite likely, the occasional Comic Relief. So my nails were quite expertly manicured in the pink French tip style; it was, after all, a special occasion.
In reality, in all these years I had managed to escape ever becoming a slave to the filthy, disgusting habit of actually sucking down cancer sticks. I always felt everyone should have one bad habit they could not or would not ever indulge in, and smoking always seemed out of them all to be the least fun. So long ago, I swore out of all the vices it would be the one I would forever do without. I had tried most of the others at one point or another in my life and they were all a lot more fun than tobacco, believe me.
I didn’t really care that I hadn’t been able to reach Eric to warn him I was coming. I didn’t even know myself until a few hours before I left. I had done it before, more times, than I could remember since we had first met twenty years ago, and it had always worked out just fine every time. He was always gracious and appeared happy to see me, even when he never expected me to be there. We shared some very good times that way for a long time.
When I first met Eric, I had just turned eighteen and he was in his late thirties. He hadn’t had any hits on the radio lately, or built up much of a solo career touring in the States. I guess you might say he was in a bit of a slump. It was nothing like the days on the road when he was a star in one of the biggest bands in the world. However, times had changed, and so had popular music. Punk and disco were not his forte or his friends, and they were not my taste either. I did not buy those records or know who any of those people were, but I sure knew who he was. His original band, The Animals was one of my favorite groups.
Nevertheless, he was still so gorgeous then, extremely sexy and extraordinarily talented even if the fickle fans of the Top 40 seemed to have lost interest. Dark shaggy hair, fantastic smile, that sexy soft English accent combined with his fame, charm, outspoken personality and big, rich, soulful voice. He had a powerful presence, impossible to overlook or ignore whether packaged for market in a stiff suit, silk shirts, fringe and fur, denim and leather, or tie-dye
He was accustomed to living the life of a rock-and-roll legend, playing everywhere from the hottest clubs to the biggest stadiums just as he had since he had his first hit record barely out of his teens. He had always seemed pretty stiff, quite serious, very hard and tough, when I had seen him in pictures in fan magazines or on TV.
However, he was much softer than I ever expected or imagined at the time I met him. He was charming, lighthearted, and joyous. Playful and mischievous, with a certain impish quality that could completely disarm you, which women all over the world found irresistible. Notorious for his very bad attitude and very big mouth and infamous for the celebrated company he kept and their well-chronicled, inebriated antics. He had been living and loving a lifestyle of extremes and excess, which almost managed to overshadow his talent, which was, quite formidable.
Enter the Shiny Happy Sherry Fairy.
A perfect landing right on cue, front row and center.
Where I could get a good look at him and be sure he got one of me. Just a naïve little freckle-faced redheaded American kid from the suburbs, who somehow ended up in just the right, or the wrong place as Eric that particular night. Done up like a birthday present in a pink flowered sundress and white hair ribbons and a pair of sky-high–heeled platform sandals. Clearly, it was a match made in rock-and-roll heaven. I was struck completely deaf, dumb, blind, and stupid by the size of the stars he put into my eyes.
But I had called a halt to my years as backstage teen queen when I was 22 and gave the whole ridiculous scene up over 15 years ago. I had just had enough. The time had come.
Rock and roll is a cold, ugly business and was bound to break your heart, ruin your life, steal your spirit, and destroy your soul sooner or later, inevitably.
If it did not kill you first.
However, odds are it would do them all eventually, if you did not get out when you had the chance, or if you were not very smart, very tough, very lucky, or very careful.
Deep down, I suspected I was just not enough of any of the above.
In fact, I was sure of it.
By almost twenty-three, I was ready for real men, not immature egomaniacs with drumsticks, microphones, and guitars, and their debris of damaged hearts and hotel rooms with skeletons scattered in every club, closet and cupboard in every corner, all over the world. Fed up with being one of the beautiful fragile young creatures constantly mooning over them, swooning at the sight of them, left behind when they went, secretly stashed away or blatantly paraded beside them before being worn out, used up, well fucked and then fucked over, destroyed and discarded. There were always plenty more, waiting.
Eric couldn’t seem to understand why I had such a problem with all this. It was all he had ever known for a long time. He had been doing it almost his whole life, but I wanted something different for me and mine. So he did kept doing what he knew how to do best, what he always did, stayed on the road, living his life, wherever or whatever that was to be after.
I made the decision to completely change mine.
Decided to go home, find myself a real man, a good one, and settle down, get happily married and try never to look back. I just forgot all about those days, stopped caring about that world and made a new one of my own. I went to the local University and got a degree in Education, bought a big house in the suburbs, opened a private pre-school, filled it with kids, love and laughter. Gave up the men and music, the makeup and miniskirts, the drugs and the decadence, the hard living and easy dying and traded it all in for self-respect, security, safety, and sanity. I paid my dues and earned righteousness and responsibility and bought a ticket to ride on the “American Dream”
I worked my way up to the dizzying heights of the very pinnacle of suburban success and earned my rightful place in the real world and proper society. Became a shining example of proper modern womanhood, a wife, mother, business person, you know, what they call a “role model.” Just another one of the cold, grey, stone pillars of virtue that support and protect the community and make the “real world” go endlessly round. My whole life revolved around my job, house, husband and family. I completely lost interest in rock and roll. I had outgrown it. I was uninterested and unimpressed and no longer a part of it.
I wouldn’t even buy a record or go to a show except to see Eric or a few other really good friends, who I still kept in touch with. I just wanted to have nothing to do with all its nonsense.
Looking back, to him then, I think that must have been my appeal.
Through the years, I went to every gig to see him. But I always came home just as soon as it ended. With Eric and me, it wasn’t really safe to do anything else. Our unlikely association had now gone on for over twenty years, which was quite surprising, to us just as much as anyone else, because our lives were so very different. Especially since the average length of most of his relationships with girls on the road was lucky to be room service breakfast the next morning.
I always felt I had spent the last 15 years of my life in disguise. Hiding behind huge owl-ish schoolteacher glasses with my wild red hair and big, bold personality kept well in check. Constantly covert, controlled, restricted, constricted, and well-contained. Living with the choice I had made to be non-threatening, unappealing, uninteresting and innocuous in order to conform, progress and succeed because it was appropriate for my station and position in this place and time, for the life I had chosen to live from now on.
Surprisingly, as it turned out, I loved it. Even though I spent every single minute all those years, busting my ass every single day, overworked, unappreciated, undervalued, and covered with multicolored crayons, apple juice, and baby spit. I adored the children I took care of; it was the parents, the childcare administration, the community and the monotony I could not stand. I was happy doing it all for a very long time.
Until one day, for no one explosive or explainable definable reason, I just was not happy at all anymore. Call it a mid-life crisis, or the fifteen-year itch, or some form of temporary insanity. All I knew was it was time to do something else. Something different, I just had no idea at all what that could be.
I think the last straw was on the day I had changed my three hundred thousandth dirty diaper, in the week that four different mothers had “forgotten” their checkbooks on payday, in a month that I hadn’t left my house where even once, in the year I finally knew my marriage was over. I tossed the last diaper I would ever change in the can and said out loud to myself.
”That’s it. I’ve had enough! I would rather shovel coal or kiss the devils ass daily or flip burgers with my bare hands at the McDonalds in Hades for the rest of eternity then do any of this one single minute longer! I QUIT”
And sure enough, I did, at the end of that week.
And that was about six months ago.
As I got ready to get in the van “The Animals Greatest Hits” on old vinyl blasts, crackle and hissed through my cheap, crappy, boring, affordable old respectable suburban married type people’s stereo speakers. Nothing like the equipment I used to have back when I was young, single and foolish with plenty of spending cash, and music, and, the men who made it and nothing else was my very reason for living. I made sure to sing along with every single song, completely off key and with ever growing conviction and even greater enthusiasm, getting increasingly louder and out of tune, while I do the electric boogaloo around the bedroom in my old grannie panties.
Eric and I do a duet. We are bloody marvelous! We always were, even if I do say so myself. And I think even he would have to agree. I opened the windows wide to make sure the old prune next door can be sure not to miss a note.
I dug through the disorganized mess on the floor of the closet of our bedroom. What a mess, a complete disaster, all these things that were scattered haphazardly and left behind when he left with all of his, and I still hadn’t sorted it all out yet these many months later. No, I guess I mean my bedroom now. Wade my way through a huge pile of ugly smelly old worn out old sneakers. I hadn’t bought any other shoes for as long as I could remember. The same ones I had worn every single day for the last 15 years when I finally dragged myself out of bed at 6 am in the morning and threw on the nearest semi-clean tee shirt I could find with my eyes still half closed, hopefully without too much grape jelly or baby formula stains all over it. And didn’t get to take off until frequently way after midnight when I finally collapsed into bed in exhaustion. There they were, thank God! I was starting to panic! My favorite tall black leather boots. For a minute I thought that it just might be possible in a moment of madness I could have foolishly decided they were no more than some sort of obsolete garbage and just carelessly and callously given or tossed them away.
But no, not gone, just out of sight and definitely way out of my mind. Just like me these days, evidently.
There once was a time wearing anything else would be unthinkable!
They were my prized possession. Now look at them, all roughly mistreated and miserable. Just shoved in there, and evidently completely abandoned, stuck down at the bottom underneath a bunch of old dirty everyday crap, no longer a priority much less a necessity, just weighted down now, helpless, useless, smothered, overwhelmed and overpowered. Exiled by the others for being strange and different and therefore (until now) banished! They had clearly hit very rock bottom, reduced to pathetically cowering in the very back of the deepest darkest of corners. What a crying shame! This is footwear that lives to see and be seen! With their mile-high chunky heels, the corset lacing in the back and the silver three inch embossed square buckles and studs!
Oh dear, looks like I better give them a good polish first though, since they too are quite old and dull these days and seem so close to worn down and out and have apparently become just a bit too much their owner these days, both looking and feeling pretty lackluster. I cradled them in my arms and then lovingly rubbed every inch of their dried out wrinkled old hide with moisturizing, nourishing beeswax.
“Poor babies, you’re a mess! How could I have let such a thing happen? You are in need of some serious help if you ask me! All you really need is just a little time and attention, somebody to notice you and take you out and take care of you and show you a good time! That will really sort you out, wont it? “
“Well, let’s get right to work, I just hope that it’s not way too late to save you!”
And they came up a treat, bright and shiny as new; I thought that was a very good sign. Clearly they were just as fed up as I was of being bored and neglected, cooped up, crushed, and falsely imprisoned! And were just as thrilled to no longer be forgotten and buried alive just hoping and waiting for the wonderful day they get a well-deserved and long overdue chance to “that thing they do” once again before they go off to the Great Shoe store in the Sky.
Now what? I had almost forgotten how all this was done. I glared at my reflection in the dressing room mirror, and it stared just as rebelliously and defiantly back.
“Oh, so that’s how it’s going to be, eh?”
“Ok, you scoundrel, I accept your challenge! En grade! And may the best man win!”
With great trepidation I lured the rabid red badger that lived on my head and pretended to be hair out of the rubber restraints of its perpetual ponytail prison. It had grown almost comatose out of sheer boredom and inhumane levels of neglect over the last 15 years. I unleashed it, grabbed a tight hold on it, and violently shook it and shocked out of its slumber, then jumped in the shower and squirted steaming then ice cold water all over it, moussed it and mussed it, spritzed it and sprayed it, until at long last it showed some renewed signs of life. Then fried it, dyed it, baked and burned it and teased and attacked and tormented it with no mercy until it was once again a scary wild out of control dangerous beastie.
Once I had its full attention I laid down the ground rules.
“Ok, I don’t like you, and I know you really hate me, but can we at least try to cooperate with each other for just a couple of days? It’s really important! And by the way it’s nice to have you back, I really have missed you, you evil soulless mean furry critter!”
I thought I heard it growl just a little bit but it didn’t try to devour or strangle me, so I took that as agreement to the truce and a halfhearted promise to at least make some attempt to behave.
Eventually, I managed to track down my favorite fab bunny-soft slate grey suede miniskirt with the white stitching. In a box in the attic that said “SHERRYS USELESS CRAP” in great big black definitive letters written with permanent ink.
“That’s what you think you silly box, what do you know?”
I fling the contents of my underwear drawer around the room and finally decide to shimmy into slinky black and white zebra striped demi bra trimmed with frilly hot pink lace and of course, just a FEW tasteful and strategically placed sparkly pink sequins. After all, I grinned, I wouldn’t want to look like some sort of cheap floozy! I always had plenty of nice sexy things like this fairly close at hand, always and forever still worth the investment. Just in case. Of what, I wasn’t sure. That was my little secret. And of course, the mysterious Victoria’s.
Now… for the top? I think maybe a fairly conservative white silk button up blouse just sheer enough that if you were really trying you could you could just catch a little hint of what wonders may be hiding beneath the thin fabric. Add a plain silver braided chain almost a choker with heart shaped tiny locket I got from my grandmother, one of my favorite things that I saved for only the most momentous of occasions when I could use all the luck I can get. And the charm bracelet I had from childhood just to be whimsical, dangling dozens of little mementos of times and places of things worth immortalizing in a jingly silver-plated miniature form.
I am ready. At least as ready as I will ever be, this is as good as it’s going to get. But is one ever really ready for something like this? You may be fully prepared… But ready? Who knows! There’s only one way to find out.
All I need to do now is grab my leather jacket, lock up the past, and leave my real life and real world behind far behind and actually really start doing it.
That’s the hardest part. And after that? Well whatever happens, just happens!
I check out the final results in the bathroom mirror. It’s a bit friendlier. I don’t even have a full length one in the bedroom where I always dress. And I wonder at exactly what point, on what day did I stopped really caring at all what I looked like?
No wonder my reflection was none too fond of me. I didn’t really blame it at all. I wasn’t too thrilled with myself either. Thank god, that girl from the past that these clothes truly belonged to and the one I am now seem to still be approximately the same shape and size. Even though that may be the one and only thing they have in common. And somehow tonight, it’s all a perfect fit!
Chasing all those little kids around all these years seems to have had some advantages. Although at the moment, at least, I certainly can’t for the life of me remember what a single one of them was.
Tonight, by some miracle, the two of us, who I was and who I am seemed to have somehow managed to be, come together in the end smoothly and seamlessly, without too much effort, making some strange brand new girl I’d never seen before!
One I guess I better get to know and get used to. And fast! If I was going to take her out for a test drive, especially under these circumstances! I checked it all out.
Hmm…not bad, not bad at all, in fact, I conclude, a rousing success!
“Take that you bitch! VICTORY IS MINE!”
I stuck out my tongue and gave the dressing room mirror the finger.
The look was quite retro, I know but with a few modern stylish touches, definitely vintage, rather than antique. The perfect blend of classy and sassy, both dead cool and yet somehow, hopefully, still totally hot. Let’s just hope and pray that just goes for ME too!
No more excuses, or putting it off. It was definitely long past time to go.
My showing up (with zero notice, no warning) pounding on his hotel room door tired, wired and just a bit of a mess, a mangy stray puppy dog on the back porch demanding to share his finest steak dinner, with no real clue what I was doing there or why I was doing it, was so bloody typical, and just like us in the old days, it was perfectly priceless and going to be totally worth it!
Or so I hoped.
One never really knows for sure about this sort of thing.
But you won’t ever find out, will you?
Unless you are ready and willing to actually take a chance and make that choice, whenever it is, when you are offered the option. My best advice? Once and awhile, just pick the one you would have to be crazy to choose, whatever it may be. Just fling yourself headlong into the cosmic storm and let it spit you out where it may. And hope the universe will somehow provide and take care of you.
And Do it fearlessly or not at all.
You may disagree. And perhaps you should, and you might be turn out to be right.
Decide for yourself.
After you hear my story.
CHAPTER TWO: WHEN THE ROCK BEGAN TO ROLL
I am still amazed that I ended up involved with the likes of him in the first place.
I didn’t even like rock and roll until I was sixteen or seventeen years old. I was always a quirky kid. I spent all my time watching classic movies and musicals with my mom, sorting buttons while she sewed, or making doll clothes for acting out elaborate plays and throwing fabulous Barbie doll fashion shows instead of hanging out at a mall worrying about hair, fashion, and boys my age, or dreaming of pop stars. I liked show tunes and danced and sang in local musical theater, not at stupid rock music shows by bands on the radio. I turned up my tiny freckled nose at “popular “music. I watched Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn and didn’t even own my own record player.
It was not until high school that one of my friends, who had actually lived in England for a few years, turned me on to bands like The Kinks, David Bowie, T-Rex, Sweet, and Mott the Hoople – the glitter and glory of the glam 70s British bands- that I took any interest in rock music at all. They were the perfect introduction. Just the right blend of music and madness, costume and spectacle, to send me over the edge of the cliff, going headfirst deep into strange new waters to join in the waves of the sea of scream-teen fans.
It was the start of my about-face from Broadway to Billboard, from “Top Hat” to Top 40. Theatrical enough to thrill me, intellectual enough to appeal to the snotty-nosed little theater snob I was. Gorgeous to look at and sexy in a sophisticated way, not down and dirty, raw and raunchy. This was proper theater all right, at its best. Highbrow as well as low-down; hot as hell, and unbelievably cool, which I definitely was not. I was about as UN-cool as you could get. They were a bit bizarre, strange, unique, and creative-— just like me! Far enough from my little world to be safe; non-threatening enough to cope with at the age where I was trying to figure out what all this boy/girl /man /woman stuff was all about.
The whole story changed forever, however, when I first saw Queen and their gorgeous, blonde drummer Roger Taylor. I just fell in love, with both the band, and the boy.
Never set out to be a part of the rock scene, and I never expected or imagined it. I was just a kid who wanted to find out how to go about getting an autograph from her favorite band, with my best friend Nina, who lived next door, who loved Queen as much as I did. We weren’t popular kids with a huge social life; we had all the time in the world to collect fan magazines and imported records, and spend endless hours together, listening to them and memorizing every picture, note and word.
I was a loner and misfit in the neighborhood; I had nothing else better to do.
I wore cheap, unfashionable, crappy clothes, and liked sleeping in after staying up late watching the suave, debonair, sophisticated celebrities, by sneaking the TV on for “The Tonight Show” a whole hell of a lot more than I would have liked getting up early, spending hours putting on make-up, and worrying about how I looked every day even at fifteen or sixteen years old. Or moon over the cinema heroes in white tie and tails or dinner jackets in the all-night movies on my 12-inch black and white TV in my bedroom, filled with my Barbie’s and stuffed animals. The only time boys at school noticed me was to make fun of me.
Not exactly typical glamorous groupie material meant for radio superstars.
The only reason we ever started hanging outside the backstage door for every show that came into town was to figure out how to get backstage passes for the next time Queen came to town. We would show up long before a show, and hang around outside, fidgeting and giggling, hoping the band would get out of their limo outside the back door so we could goggle, and fuss over and paw at them. We never expected to be invited into the hallowed halls or see what happened behind the magic blocked and locked door, or never expected to be a welcome guest at any of the parties.
After a couple of years, I didn’t go with Nina much anymore. I was growing up faster and tougher than she was from hanging out with my new friend Susan, a wild child, fearless, daring and ambitious girl who wanted much more than mere autographs.
She was a friend of a friend who had happened to call me one night as I was going out the door to see The Kinks all by myself. We arrived at the gig late and were forced to buy tickets instead of trying to talk our way in the back door. Walking down the aisle to our seats, Susan leaned over and picked something up off the floor and said, in sincere innocence, ”What is this thing?”, and held out a square of bright colored paper with a sticky back someone had lost. I recognized it immediately. It was a VIP all–access backstage pass. Susan disappeared into the backstage and was back with one for me less than ten minutes later. I knew at that moment she was a natural, and my new good luck charm. From then on, we were inseparable.
One of the first big gigs we went to together was featuring Cheap Trick, but we couldn’t care less about the headliners so we walked out on their set once Cheap Trick was done, and caught them getting in their tour bus out back, headed for their next gig in New York City.
I don’t know why we asked, or why they said yes when we begged to jump on the bus and ride to the big gig as well. We hadn’t a penny to our names, we were obviously underage, and not a single one of us had a clue what the hell they would do with two minors with no money once we all got there, but they were perfect gentlemen about the whole thing. I think they were just thrilled to be asked. They, too, were so new to the whole “big time” rock-and-roll game.
Even Susan and I realized what a crazy thing it was to do after only an hour or two on the road, so when the bus stopped to gas up in Baltimore, close to midnight, we two came to our senses and gave up the insane adventure (the one and only time we ever chickened out on anything, I think) and jumped off the bus before we could change our minds.
Pretty Robin was really shocked and concerned by our unexpected exit and rapid retreat and shouted through the open window at our quickly disappearing blue-jeaned backsides
“Are you two sure you are going to be okay? How are you going to get home from here?”
We didn’t want to upset him by letting him know how far away from home we had gotten, or that we had no idea where we were or the slightest clue what we were going to do next. We sure as hell were not going to tell him we had no choice but to hitchhike forty miles or more down the interstate in the middle of the night. He was such a lovely thing, so sweet and as beautiful inside as he was on the outside. I really did not want him to be worried or upset. He was so young when Cheap Trick hit it big; he was not much more than a teenager either, so I laughed or shouted back.
“Don’t worry about us, Robin! We can just fly like you, or float home if we have to.”
“Ah, well then, farewell Fantastic Flying Suzy and Sherry Fairies!” he waved goodbye out the open window as the bus pulled away.
Yes, that was us. The Suzy and Sherry Fairies, able to leap restraining barriers in one mighty stiletto’ed hop, to get to where we had no business being with a single bound.
We were only happy if we got inside every single show that came into town free. We approached it single-mindedly as a science. We made friends with every crew we could, every gig, every tour, and found out when and with what band they would come back to town. We would get the names of their friends on other tours to watch out for, and to ask for personally. We flirted unmercifully with every person working every door, and every goon operating security at every local event.
We made friends of every union stagehand, chatted up every truck driver, T-shirt shirt man, all the sound-men, and the entire lighting team. We sweet-talked every gaffer, rigger, and roadie in sight and cozied up to every regular hotel employee at all the hotels the bands were always booked into. We flattered and fussed over every limo driver for a hundred miles around. We made sure we knew everyone and made sure we were known and appreciated by every promoter as well behaved and worth having around, not sleazy, low-class troublemakers.
To find out where the best parties were going to be, we did detective and surveillance work that would have made Phillip Marlowe proud. We learned to contact the band’s A & R person at the label in New York or L.A. in advance to see if we could sweet-talk our way onto “The List.” Eventually, somehow we’d manage to schmooze, sneak, or scheme our way in every single time.
They all soon learned there was never any hope of us doing sexual favors for passes for any show, like some of those girls at the back door, but you could always count on us to show up at 10 am, bringing fresh baked cookies or a homemade meatloaf for lunch, in order to keep the bored, exhausted boys who lived on the bus company and entertained on a long, hard day and night out here in the middle of suburban nowhere somewhere in Maryland, or Virginia or Washington D.C or Baltimore.
Happy to get out a needle and thread and put a button back on their favorite shirt, or run an errand they hadn’t gotten around to, or spend the afternoon before the gig at the hotel doing their laundry. Even better, we invited all our available girlfriends to come down to the gig at show time if they were willing to give them passes too. In addition, best of all, we could always point out the best local dope dealers.
Most of all, we truly cared just as much or more about our friendships with the roadies as we did about meeting the bands. That was what made all the difference, made us special. We had a genuine desire to get to know them because they were much more interesting than the local boys our age could ever be, and we really wanted them to have a nice time while they came to town.
It was always appreciated when someone would let us in free or give us a pass, and we made sure they knew it and treated them decently so we got the same appreciation, treatment and respect back.
Now, I’m not trying to say we didn’t partake and participate in all sorts of notorious backstage naughty-girl behavior; our shenanigans were just about as well- known as our courtesy and our kindness. After all, I did say we were fairies, not angels. But we had a certain set of morals and high standards and ethics when it came to our behavior and reputations, and a limit to how much bullshit we were willing to tolerate. We grew to be known as people you should be kind to, look out for, and take care of when you came to our town.
I wish I had some sort of fabulous story about the first time I saw Eric sing, twenty years before this long late-night drive to the festival.
I just don’t remember a thing that happened on the stage that night, no matter how hard I try. I remember it was good, I was really impressed, but I liked Eric so much more after his performance; the actual show itself just didn’t stick in my mind. I can recall clearly all kinds of other silly things, like the color of the T-shirt on the guy who saw me hanging around the dressing room door who gave me a backstage pass after my girlfriend Carolee left early, the musty smell of the dressing room, and the worn, washed out colors on the paisley upholstery of the couch backstage. But not a moment of the performance.
I’m not sure exactly how I ended up sitting right there next to him after the show. It was shocking to me, but most likely not a surprise to Eric, his band, the crew and every girl in the audience. It must have taken quite a bit of guile and manipulation on one or most of our parts. I don’t remember exactly what it was we talked about, although we talked non-stop for hours. Nevertheless, I will never forget how intently he listened to me. He took me, and what I had to say so seriously.
That was definitely something I was not used to and never expected.
I got his total and undivided attention all night. He was kind, respectful, and polite and treated me like a human being, not a dumb, pretty young girl he wanted nothing more from than to see naked however possible. To him, I was worthy of respect, with value other than just physical, and something of import to contribute well worth paying attention to. He was fascinating to me, and to my great bewilderment, somehow I seemed to fascinate him. We talked about life, religion, art, and politics. I wasn’t aware that I knew anything worth discussing or had even yet formed an opinion worth mentioning on any of these matters.
When I spoke, he really paid attention to what I had to say, seemed to appreciate it, and asked good thoughtful questions that made me think carefully and make myself very clear. I surprised myself with what came out of my mouth, once I started speaking with someone with such an open mind, who wasn’t judgmental or condescending, who was genuinely interested in hearing my point of view.
One thing about Eric is when he was with you; he really was there, all the way. He was full of mischief, charm and curiosity, very bright and funny, with a sly sarcastic wit. Lucky me, I found myself receiving one-hundred percent of his time and attention, and his very laid-back,( yet still somehow very intense) concentration that night and many more to come later over the years.
There was never an act or a front. He did not fake anything or try to fool anyone, at least in my experience. Despite all the horror stories I had heard about his misbehavior over the years from fan magazines and talk among people in the business, I personally never saw him be anything but charming and gracious to anyone. Especially me.
I was a sheltered little kid in so many ways and had never been taken seriously by anybody, much less gorgeous, sexy, famous rock stars almost twice my age. Most of my experience with the opposite sex so far had been being ignored, neglected or picked on and abused by every boy in my hometown, making out with one serious boyfriend close to my own age at high school dances, dealing with a few semi-serious boyfriends that lasted a few months over the past year or so, and dealing with old boring farts doing my job as a cocktail waitress in a seedy gentleman’s club in the government/business district in downtown D.C.
And, of course, navigating my way through the flood of fans and dealing with all the bullshit that went along with hanging out backstage at the rock concerts. I had moved to the middle of the city just a few months earlier, and took that job as soon as I turned eighteen. I was making really good money, but spent all day fighting off groping businessmen three or four times my age constantly trying to seduce me with money and treating me like a whore or an idiot.
I never expected someone like him to listen or care about anything but getting in my knickers, which he could not seem to care less about. Still, somehow, when his manager told him it was time to get on the bus and leave for his hotel it seemed the most natural thing in the world that I should go with him. I don’t remember him asking or us even discussing it. It was understood by all that the night was not done yet.
When we got to his hotel room, which he had not yet set foot in, because the tour bus had taken him, straight to this gig from the last one, all hell broke loose. You couldn’t almost smell the sulfur and see and hear the brimstone exploding. His room at The Hotel Harrington (though it could have been more suitably called the Hotel from Hell again) turned out to be an uninhabitable garbage heap. Even the roaches and rats were fed up with calling management to voice their complaints, and they were busy packing their gear in the middle of the floor of his room before heading for less squalid digs with better quality staff and guests of a much higher caliber
. It was a death trap, and on this point, I am not exaggerating; a deranged man had once killed a nine-year-old child on a school field trip in the cafeteria in an attack with an ice pick hidden in a brown paper lunch bag.
Eric was very unhappy and made sure everyone knew it. However, he was not being a spoiled star having a temper tantrum over something minor and insignificant, or trying to be difficult or obnoxious for no good reason. He was clearly stressed and exhausted, and all he wanted to do was come back and relax after the gig somewhere that didn’t put him in fear of catching a 17th century fatal disease, being eaten alive by deadly bugs or virulent bacteria, or being carried away in a stretcher or body bag before morning; a helpless victim of some gruesome or exceedingly unpleasant event due to being forced to spend even a single night there.
It seemed to me that he felt hurt and let down by the people who were supposed to be in charge of such things, but who hadn’t taken the time to check out the place and take proper care of him, as they were supposed to. He appeared more upset than angry, and embarrassed that he had to bring me to such a terrible place. As if I cared! I still could not quite believe that anything I said or felt mattered to him.
He was more confused and concerned, more like a child whose parents had laid him down to sleep in a dangerous broken cradle than a cocky conceited brat wailing that his silver spoon wasn’t made out of 24-karat gold. Wounded that they hadn’t cared enough to make sure he was put somewhere better. His road manager was apologetic and agreed that the place and the decision were both a disaster, but swore there was nothing that could be done at almost one a.m. The entire band and crew were off the bus, booked in, and settled down; their shoes off, showers taken, the luggage already unpacked.
After arguing for ten or twenty minutes about it, Eric looked over his shoulder at me apologetically, shaking his head, discouraged, frustrated and apparently disappointed for both our sake. Nobody seemed to know what to do to help him feel better. I hadn’t a clue. I felt terrible.
“Do you live nearby?” He lit up and said, quite suddenly. “May I come home with you? Do you think that would that be all right? Do you mind?”
As if it was the only sensible solution under the circumstances.
I was stunned. Me? My house? It had never crossed my mind. For a moment, I was so shocked I could not remember where I lived; if it was an igloo, a houseboat, or on the dark side of the moon, much less within a thousand miles. Luckily, it eventually came back to me, since the whole room was now staring at me expectantly, waiting for an answer. Our row house on 22nd St. was only about twenty minutes away, maybe fifteen at this time of night, and there was absolutely no reason why not!
I think I must have nodded or mumbled something that sounded like “Yes” or maybe “Oh, yes. Please”, or “Okay, why the hell not? What are we waiting for?”
Then, it all began to happen. That’s how it all started. The next thing I knew, people were rushing in and out. They were getting his bags together to check out, and making all sorts of phone calls, plans, and a set of rather complicated arrangements. The wheels were turning and so were my world, like a Tilt-a Whirl, right round, upside down. I just stood there frozen, like a complete moron, unable to move or attempt to say another word. I had a feeling it was going to take quite a while for the initial shock to wear off. He looked relieved and suddenly very happy again now laughing, and teasing the team he had been so annoyed with mere minutes ago.
The manager took down all my details and lectured us both on not doing anything crazy or stupid, all the while looking very worried. I think he may have had some firsthand experience with the sort of thing on previous occasions.
There seemed to be an awful lot of fuss.
Eric just stood there; drink in hand, watching it all happen in a spiral around him. The whole thing reminded me of sending a kindergartner off on their first day of school. Once everything was sorted out, Eric stood there expectantly, like a good little boy waiting for a pat on the head and a goodbye kiss, trying his best to look cooperative, innocent, and obedient in order to inspire confidence, with his hand held out open wide to the man who took care of the bills and the band.
However, he was not fooling anyone. Nobody is that good an actor, and no one was stupid enough not to see right through him, especially if you were used to dealing with him. I had only known him a few hours, and even I was not buying it.
He counted out cash into Eric’s outstretched hand. A lot of it. The poor man looked and sounded just like a long-suffering mother giving out that week’s lunch money, wearing that pained face that proved they knew perfectly well every penny would really be squandered on toys and candy, or certain to be blown at the local arcade. I was shocked that he didn’t pin a note on his chest that said, “If found, return me to…” before he would let us go out the door.
“Do you think that’s enough money, Eric?” His eyes were almost pleading, but somehow at the same time caring and concerned. I thought his salary was an expense very well spent.
Eric looked at him, cocked his head, and raised one eyebrow leaving his hand out expectantly. Then he gave me his trademark wicked, mischievous, naughty schoolboy smile. Over his shoulder, the manager sighed and shook his head, as if this were, for some reason, a very bad idea indeed. However, he knew when he was beaten and that there was no point in arguing. He could tell by the looks in both of our eyes. He counted out many more bills and gave me a warning glare. I smiled cheerfully and hopefully very reassuringly. I had no idea what I was ever supposed to do if he didn’t behave himself. This guy couldn’t even manage to keep him in line, and it was his full-time job. I shrugged my shoulders and pretended to look responsible and respectable, but I didn’t do a much better a job of it than Eric had.
I sympathized with the poor fellow in charge, but I also felt very nervous, along with a crazy creeping sense of freedom from captivity, and a rapidly rising, highly-emotional exhilaration. For the first time, I felt that feeling everyone seems to experience whenever Eric was present. A sense, almost a certainty, that something strange and amazing is destined to happen any moment, and you will be lucky enough to be a part of it just by having the good fortune to be near him. And they are right. It is practically a guarantee.
One of the reasons I’m sure they looked so worried about sending him off on his own, out into the night alone, and unsupervised, with no one to control or protect him except some strange little girl no one, not even Eric, knew anything about. Just my first name, with an address, and a phone number scrawled carefully into a worn leather notebook.
This was back before every-day e-mail and laptops everywhere and cell phones glued to every single soul and ear. When if you lost track of someone, then you had no way to hunt them down and communicate with them but for sending dinosaurs out searching the streets with stone tablets in their mouths. I wished I could have reassured the boss somehow that I was not nuts or dangerous. Or both. But I’m sure that’s exactly what a dangerous nut would have done in that situation. Eric had a reputation for being plenty of both without help from anyone else in those days.
Maybe the manager was a little more worried about the rest of the world, or me, than he was about Eric.
However, there was nothing more he could do, and we were determined. Then, without a backward glance, giggling, we were gone.
We settled into the back of a taxicab and the tension trapped in every muscle of his body instantly evaporated. He practically deflated in peace and relief. All the self-possession and carefully controlled anger and putting on a big show for everyone was done now, and he was actually going somewhere he wanted, to be with someone he wanted to be with, instead of being somewhere he had to be that he didn’t want to be at all.
He put his head on my shoulder, closed his eyes, slowly ran his fingers through his hair to push it off his forehead and out of his eyes, and said quietly, under his breath “I’m sorry, I’m just so tired… can I… just let me rest here a moment… please?”
Before he could even finish, I had already gathered him up in my arms like a child, pulled him close, and held him all the way home. I wasn’t nervous or shy anymore, because I no longer saw an impressive, intimidating, and grown-up rock star. Just an exhausted overgrown little boy, who had been working all night, every night for months, who was exhausted from buses and hotels and living on the road, who badly needed a break from all that tonight. Far away from his world, the only one he knew most of the last twenty years, somewhere no one could find him.
A world most people would never experience or ever hope to understand or could even imagine how hard it really could be, when you were the one actually doing it and not just fantasizing about it. He couldn’t escape it now, even if he wanted to or knew how. He never had a chance to grow up and deal with the real world and probably never would and he spent most of his life too far from home. So, I thought, the least I could do is take him to mine and take care of him for a little while.
So I did.
Just carried him home with me like a lost kitten or a grand prize. I’m sure I wasn’t the first or the last to do the same. But it was a first for me and it made quite an impression.
Ever since that first night, I always felt fiercely protective of Eric. I could never quite forget or stop seeing that lonely, tired child that needed to be taken care of. Although I’m sure he’s more than capable of taking care of himself, if he actually wanted to. But why should he? But he required a whole team of people to do it just so he wouldn’t have to. When he actually let them, that is. He wasn’t someone who took directions, orders, or instructions very well.
I know it sounds silly, but in my head, I adopted that little boy that night. I just couldn’t help myself, even though I was just a kid myself and he was approaching forty. He had that effect. I just wanted to spoil, pamper, and indulge his every whim and do whatever it took to make him happy and feel good. I did that every time I saw him, every chance I got over the years. Whenever I saw him on stage or screen, I would always think, that’s MY boy, up there. “My Eric.” The one they are screaming for, the one bringing down the house! I would practically glow anytime I heard him on the radio. It tugged on my heartstrings to see or hear him, as if I were watching a six-year-old tap-dancing his little heart out in the local talent show.
I know. I know! It’s completely ridiculous! But I didn’t care. I just adored him right from the start. I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t. I was so young then, and it was so long ago.
I worried about him when I saw him looking rough or heard about him screwing up. No matter how wicked or naughty he was, like a proud and permissive mama of a very badly behaved baby who could get away with bloody murder, he could do no wrong in my eyes. I would always forgive or excuse him every single time, for anything. We both knew it. There was no doubt about it.
As for Carlee, my poor roommate, she had gone to Eric’s gig that night with me with a general admission ticket, as well, but left once it ended. She had an exam the next day to be fresh for and some studying to do. She had no idea I had ended up back-stage or that there was any possibility Eric and I would end up together here and she would be awakened at two a.m. to find him lounging sensually across the foot of her bed, looking every inch the rock god in his tight jeans and flamboyant loose red silk shirt, with a bottle of Jack Daniels from the gig and an industrial-size bag full of magic mushrooms which he was now practically shoving down her throat before her eyes were even all the way open.
Apparently, he was intent on waxing poetic, spouting philosophy and speaking nonsense while tripping his brains out all night in our parlor- which unfortunately for her was also her bedroom -— whether she liked the idea or not. However, she was a good friend and a game girl, always fairly unflappable, so she made the best of it and took it in her stride and her footie pajamas. The three of us spent the remainder of the evening lounging about on her bed until the sun threatened to rise and Carolee threatened to evict the both of us.
Not just from her bed and room, but off the premises entirely and on a permanent basis if we didn’t go away and give her time to straighten up and pull it together before she had to be in class.
I wonder how well she did on that test.
There had been no rush so far. Eric and I both knew where this party was going to end, and working our way up to it was a big part of the fun. The unmistakable heat between us had been ever increasing all night, and undeniable sexual tension was building up to an inevitable explosion and made the waiting that much more thrilling.
We had let it rise until it was ready to overflow; the physical chemistry was overpowering and unstoppable and now there were no more excuses or reasons why not. The time had become right. Magical mushrooms were creating beautiful confusion, weaving their wicked spells, twisting and turning, all smoke and mirrors, multiplying in strength and intensity moment by moment, poised to pull every ribbon and rabbit left from their mad hat. Impatiently awaiting our permission and arrival for the grand finale, exploding the cosmos into cotton candy, confetti, and chaos.
We were on the verge and we knew it, and trying to stay on the edge of the ledge, enjoying it as long as we could teeter before we took off and fell off the end of the earth.
Casually we wandered through the house, brushing shoulders and fingertips, giggling and then, with affected nonchalance, headed up the stairs towards my room on the third floor, exactly where we both had intended to finish the evening, as expected all along.
I opened the door slowly with great secret anticipation. In a moment, he would see why.
I knew it must be his version of a heavenly dream tonight compared to the place he had left behind. A huge traditional Victorian front room with hardwood floors the color of warm butter. The first rays of dawn were just beginning to dance through the shifting leaves of the massive oak trees outside and beam in through the massive bay window. There were only a few pieces of real furniture in here. At one end of the room was a fireplace with a thick marble mantel, covered with scented candles of all shapes and sizes, perfect for incense burners and doing lines of coke. At the other, a pink velvet wing-style armchair but it was just for some sort of respectability’s sake.
An antique walnut dresser supported a giant stereo system. There were hundreds of records lined up in neat rows and rock-and-roll fan magazines scattered everywhere. A huge armoire in the corner was packed full of my vintage party dresses and cocktail gowns. Baskets overflowing with tiny frilly and girly things were everywhere. Bras and panties and G-strings, miniskirts, tight blue jeans, tiny tops and blouses all strewn about in delicious decadent disarray. Piles of stiletto heels in every corner and jeweled hairpins, sticky wild cherry lip gloss, bits of costume jewelry and empty champagne glasses covered almost every inch of available surface, and where there weren’t, sprinkles of glitter or multicolored feathers had floated and landed.
Right in the center of the room, was the showpiece! Designed to take your breath (and any chance, hope or prayer of any resistance) away. My huge heavy ornate brass canopy bed, enveloped harem-style in clouds of diaphanous white curtains, covered with silk sheets as soft to slip into as a glass of warm milk, loaded to the limit with satin and velvet multicolored pillows and blankets piled high and haphazardly.
He looked around at it all in awe, speechless. Overwhelmed as a three-year-old spotting the twinkling tree and beautiful presents, all for only him, for the first time Christmas morning.
“Now this is a place I could really get used to”, he finally said, very quietly and a bit nervously, soul filled with hope. Practically choking up with joy and desire. It was a playground beyond compare. “Would you mind… if I stayed awhile?”
As if he honestly had no idea what the answer might be.
All I could think was “What an incredibly stupid question.”
With an incredibly obvious answer.
We put on some music. I let the expert pick, of course. Slowly, I stretched out on the bed and watched him from across the room. He was so indescribably beautiful then. A rock god, in tight leather trousers and a flowing, flowered silk shirt, made all the better with the kind assistance of the bottle of Jack and bag of mushrooms, especially in the kaleidoscope of rainbow morning rays. He sighed, as the music started, and bent down to the nearest basket overflowing with frilly girly bits and pieces and soft silky things, scooped in with both hands, then buried his face deep in the pile of delicate lacy lingerie, just breathing in like a drowning man finding oxygen, then looked into my eyes and said, “I don’t think I could never get tired of playing here. And with you.”
At last, he slid in and stretched out up against me. I was beginning to be afraid he would do nothing all night but talk at this point. I closed the flowing sheer clouds of white curtains, rippling gently in the early morning breeze around the bed, on all four sides so we would be ensconced inside, with all the piles of fat golden velvet pillows and layers of multicolored satin blankets on the silky sheets. It was the perfect place to be coming on from the mushrooms and peak together. As he melted into them, his mind wandered off again, and then he started another one of his stories.
“Oh my God, does he never shut up?” Was all I could think semi-lucidly.
My thoughts were muddled and multifaceted. Every sense heightened and rapidly expanding outside the prison of the physical machine, we dissolved into two mists of loose molecules that were searching, surging, and aching to become one. I had been waiting all night for it to happen at last. I reached out and pulled him on top of me and it ceased to be him and me and turned into us, one with each other and with everything else. I slipped up inside of his body, he plunged down into mine, and we began to kiss from the inside out. We sank down, down, deeper and rose up higher, swirling in slow motion drifts of star and moon dust in an orgasmic psychedelic kiss that went on for centuries.
Just before the bed started slowly spinning and then whirling faster and faster, as the whole room turned upside down, backwards and inside out, and somehow every galaxy and the whole universe was suddenly right there inside my bedroom and in the bed with us, I could hear him speak like a record on the wrong speed coming from a million light years away.
“I think… we might be wearing too many clothes.”
I couldn’t have agreed more. I thought it was the most sensible thing he had said all night. Of course, the only solution was to very slowly, piece by piece, slip them all off each other. Then we vanished completely outside the confines of reality, swept up and carried away by the Cosmic Winds by the Mighty Forces of our Amazing Universe.
By early the next evening, I was feeling rather differently on the whole “too much clothing” matter. We were still so high, but we had come off the peak of our trip by now, and I had worn just about every piece of clothing and jewelry I owned in every possible combination he could imagine. He did have an eye for fashion and excellent taste.
I don’t know which part he enjoyed more, prowling around and finding the pieces he preferred and dressing me up in them, or taking them off a bit at a time and having me mostly undressed again. We had been playing “living doll” most of the day when we were not making universal and wild animal love somewhere around the room.
He was lying flat on his back on my white sheepskin throw rug as I stood over him, one stiletto heel at each of his shoulders, so he could admire me in his latest creative combination from the perfect vantage point of the moment, that of from below. He slid his hands ever so slowly up my legs to slip off the pale pink panties with the white lace and hot pink ribbon roses out from under my crimson leather miniskirt and spoke with a great sigh of exaggerated disappointment, beautiful sexy low voice still in slow motion, spiraling up and wrapping around me.
“What we really need here around here… is some silk stockings. They remind me of your endless long silky walls. Are you sure you don’t have any at all?”
I wasn’t that concerned. He was no different from a spoiled child left alone in the world’s largest fully stocked candy store, full to bursting, whining there wasn’t enough of his very favorite sweets. I had no sympathy whatsoever under the circumstances.
“Quite sure”, I said, firmly putting him back in his place. You certainly did have to keep him in line all the time, or else. I had figured that out correctly, right away. I was still too young to be bothered with that much stuff and nonsense; all those buckles and straps and fidgety awkward convoluted contraptions were too much work. I couldn’t afford them and I didn’t understand the allure yet. Besides, when you’re that young and fresh, less than 100 pounds of crazy wild red curls and big green eyes with a dusting of freckles and a tight little dancer’s body, you could wear almost anything, or almost nothing, and the effect it had on most men was exactly the same.
“Do you know where we could get some?”
He asked dreamily, putting one hand behind his head, having long since finished slipping my panties down, and then slowly ran the other hand up my left leg until it completely disappeared underneath my too-short skirt. Well, since I had enough lingerie lying about the place to have opened my own store, of course I knew every place in town. However, I was finding it rather hard to concentrate now, considering what he was presently getting up to under there. In fact, just remaining upright was getting more and more difficult, especially in not much else but a sky-high pair of sequined stilettos.
“There’s one… right up the street”, I managed to whisper, more like a whimper.
Quite unexpectedly, he leaped up with great speed and enthusiasm, and, unfortunately, just a few seconds too soon as far as I was concerned, and almost knocked me right over. He shouted gleefully, “Well, then, what are we waiting around for? We need to pick up some food and some more drink as soon as possible. I’m starving and our only bottle is empty!”
I wasn’t as used to eating nothing but mushrooms all night and day, as he obviously was accustomed to, so I was feeling quite unsteady. As I started to crumple, he caught me by the upper arms just in time to keep me from hitting the floor. He lifted me off my feet, planted a huge kiss on my forehead then exuberantly flung me in the general direction of the bed and started rifling around looking around for something suitable to wear outside somewhere in the glorious disaster area which was, and usually is, my bedroom.
I landed right on target, face down, with my leather mini skirt pushed clear up around my waist, my pert derriere straight up in the air. Before I could even catch my breath or try to and turn around and try to get up, I felt a huge pair of hands pinning my shoulders down hard to the bed, the weight of his body down the length of my back, the heat of his bare skin against mine.
“Well”, he half-growled, half-purred into my ear, “I suppose…we could always go out just a bit later.”
Soon, we had no choice. We had to go out for life-sustaining provisions or else prepare to meet our certain demise, but most likely, not our Maker, I think we had both been guaranteed spots on the express elevator going all the way down long ago to say “Hello Master”. If not, the last forty hours I’m quite sure had reserved our spots deep in the flames and the furnace.
We still had plenty of drugs between Eric and me; we had enough for at least twenty extremely greedy stoned people, but apparently Eric seemed to feel we were desperately in need of lobster salad, several pounds of smoked salmon, lovely small spinach-mushroom quiches and large French baguettes and pastries, plus half the inventory of the local liquor store and almost four hundred dollars in new lingerie for me because, clearly, I hadn’t nearly enough at home.
He wasn’t very good at recognizing when would be a good time to quit anything he was enjoying, and if “some” was a good thing, “even more” must be even better.
It meant that spending time in his company could be quite overwhelming and very intense and always extremely exhausting, and at the worst of times downright dangerous or just plain hazardous to your mental health and wellbeing in general. But always a thrill. He had been called lots of things over the years but one thing he never could be called was boring.
We decided to stop to have a cup of coffee or two, on our way back to our place; having been up for so long, there was no doubt some caffeine was in order.
When we got to the clinical, typical coffee shop near DuPont Circle just as all the identical thirty-to-sixty-year-old government office workers were dragging in, after spending all day becoming more and more monochrome in the glare of whining, flickering fluorescent lights. All dressed up in their nondescript tan, brown, beige or khaki three-piece prison uniforms. Not a one of them individual, unique, or identifiable.
The femininity of every woman that entered had long ago been brutally and intentionally murdered and had tragically been buried far too deep to ever see the light, for anyone to catch even a glimpse of it. Any trace of grace or beauty they may have once possessed carefully cancelled, controlled, contained by force of necessity, wiped away and worn off in order to survive extinction from that bureaucratic world, filled with powerful men and their rigid ballpoint pens. They trudged in like warhorses in their ugly, flat, sensible shoes.
I’m not sure what we were wearing, but I would say odds are good I may have been wearing his clothes, and there was a good possibility he was wearing some of mine. It really didn’t matter at all, to either of us. We were moving along in a trance, enveloped in a faint cloud of residual smoke rising up from our pores from the four-inch-in–diameter Nepalese temple balls, rolled thick and fat made from the finest black opiated hash in this country. We positively reeked of cinnamon oil, Jack Daniels, amazing sex, irresponsibility, and extremely bad judgment and even worse behavior that might have made us a tad conspicuous in the business district of downtown D.C. on your typical Tuesday evening.
Eric seemed oblivious to what anyone may have been thinking or saying; I suppose he was so used to being stared at and the center of attention everywhere he went that he no longer noticed or cared. I couldn’t help but see the disapproving sideways glances and collective scorn directed at the undesirables, the scary hairy hippies that had somehow invaded their prim, proper, and predictable upright, uptight usual environment.
Who were these beribboned, beaded, and fringed high-flying psychedelic almost mythical rare creatures? The bizarre, insane strangers who had the gall to invade their familiar, safe, colorless world?
They had no idea who was really sitting right there among them, and it would have blown their minds if they had only realized what they had missed. It made me laugh; I certainly wasn’t going to tell them.
They couldn’t even recognize him, sitting right here in front of their blank faces with their clam-shell minds and colorless, empty eyes. Their superiority and contempt was almost palpable, but I didn’t let it spoil the taste of my dark, rich, steaming Colombian coffee with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, so we stayed and talked for hours, whether they liked it or not.
I was rapidly learning there was no rushing, or pushing, or pressuring him. Ever.
Eric never did anything except when he was damn well ready, and anyone who thought they could make it happen any other way failed every time and was usually very sorry indeed that they even tried.
Unless he decided, in the end, it was his idea all along.
Then it was home again, for more of the all the above, with all our new treats and toys. I think the last-minute change in accommodations could safely be called quite a success.
Finally, his management gave up all hope of him ever coming back voluntarily, and sent a search and rescue team: the tour bus staffed with the band and the entire crew and a few stern-faced lawyers from management swinging heavy briefcases filled with thick contracts requiring that he actually show up somewhere and sing occasionally, as agreed. At least, every now and then.
When he finally left, I discovered, to my great dismay that not only had he nicked one of my best black-sequined stilettos as a souvenir, but unfortunately for me he had also gained full possession of a very big part of my poor teenage heart, which he kept close at hand and took great delight in playing with on a regular basis, quite unmercifully, for no other reason than his own entertainment, at each opportunity he got all these years.
Chapter 3 The Return and the Ring…I better finish here or I will have to tell you about the next twenty five years!
Thanks so much for your time and interest, Sherry
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