Falling Off a Log
Copyright © 2003, 2015
Sam and Davey pretty much tied up the dinner conversation, keeping everyone laughing with their exaggerations about past escapades. Scott's parents raised their eyebrows a few times, but both guys were pretty good story tellers, and could provide enough detail that we all had a good picture of the settings and circumstances of their tales.
Scott's Dad asked how many people were coming to listen to us on Sunday. We'd never added it up, so Scott ran up to get all our lists. Scott's father took a pencil and began adding it up. "Ninety three. Add us and you've got about a hundred."
"A hundred? How can that be? Lemme see!" Scott grabbed the list. "Joey, you got nineteen people."
Scott looked at the list again, "I got ... who put all these names down?"
Davey raised his hand. "I get to invite some friends, too, you know."
"Okay, I got twenty six. Let's see, Keith has twenty one. Man! I thought this was going to be thirty total! Where the hell did Nick find twenty seven people?"
"Um. Mandy's on his list," I said. "She wanted to bring a couple of friends. They're like the people on all the committees that hire the bands ... you know, like for dances and stuff. Oh! Plus his family. I mean, I'm sure his Dad's coming."
"That means we got twenty five kids from school? I can't sing in front of them! How could this happen?"
"Calm down, Scotty," his father said. "You'll do just fine. Just have fun with your music. Sing the way you want to. Do it for yourself, not for them. If they like it, fine. I'm sure they will, but if somebody doesn't, I doubt they'll tell you that. Do you have a play list worked up?"
Scott ran out again and came back, handing it to his Dad.
"Mostly your own stuff. That's good. One suggestion?"
"Start with something easier. Something good, but that you could play blindfolded. No fancy stuff. Straight three-chord rock 'n roll. That way, you can't mess up too bad if you're nervous, and you can get the feel of things … the sound system, the crowd. You can warm up right in front of the people and get them in the mood at the same time."
"Good idea, Dad. Joe?"
It sounded right to me. "We need to call Keith and Nick and let them know, but I like it. I'm gonna be shittin' bricks anyhow. Somethin' easy sounds good. I guess we know enough stuff like that."
Scott and I left the table and went up to his room. We both acted a little awkward towards each other. After a while we decided to go knock around in the barn, and immediately went up to the loft. We flopped down in the hay, hand in hand and ear to ear.
He whispered, "You don't hafta say it. I can hear the music."
"Love songs. You're playin' love songs. You're in love, huh Joe."
"What's it like?"
"Like? It's ... um ... Glad!"
"Glad? I like that! Joey's glad and he's in love. He's in love and it makes him glad. He's glad that he's in love. That's nice."
He was quiet for a minute, then spoke, "Joey?"
"I'm glad, too."
"Howcum I don't hear music?"
"It's there, Joey. It's there. It's a different key, but it's there."
I listened for a moment absorbing this, and suddenly I did start to hear his music. It was a cacophony of sound, with bass drums and jet engines. It also had birds singing, and a heck of a good bass line.
"Is that Nick I hear?"
"He treatin' you good?"
"Yeah, he is. He told me what you said, but you didn't have to threaten him. He won't hurt me. We talk all the time now - like gettin' to know each other. That first time kinda just happened. He told you, right? I told him to!"
I smiled, "He told me."
"And what? He told me all about it, and I told him he better not hurt you."
"I mean, what did you think? About me. About Nick. About what we did."
"I thought ... let me think ... I guess I was hopin' that he didn't push you. I mean, him and me did a couple of things and I felt bad after. I just don't want you to feel bad. Ever."
"That's what Nick thought. We talk a lot about it. You're the one that's right, boss. We're gonna save the sex for later. Get to know each other. Make sure we're really in love before we go too far. I mean, what if it's only one of us doin' it for the other. That's where somebody gets hurt. We do love each other, and it's different than the way you and me love each other, but Nick thinks we should be real true friends first."
"Sounds like you're pretty smart guys."
"Thanks. You really didn't answer what I asked. What do you think about me and Nicky? Bein' together and all."
"The music's kinda loud right now. Play it again when it turns into a real song and I'll let you know."
"I mean, you're not mad that I like ... I love ... a guy?"
I rolled onto my side and pulled Scott into a proper hug. I looked into his eyes and could see his question repeated there. "Scotty, there ain't anything, not a thing in the world you could do that would get me mad at you." He goosed me. "Except that!" I squeaked. "I love Mandy and you love Nick. I'm always gonna love you best!"
"I love you the best too. It's really something different, isn't it? I mean you and me. The kinds of love there are? I mean I love my parents one way, my brothers and sisters another way, music another way, animals another 'nother way. What I have for you is different than all that. It's like I don't have to love you, I just do, and it's like perfect. But Nick - I love him in a whole new way again - I'm in love with him. Is that the way you feel about Mandy?"
"Exactly the same. I was thinking the same things as you on the way home today."
"Did you tell her? That you love her?"
"We said it at the same time! She loves me too, Scott! I'm so happy! I got home and everybody just guessed it right off the bat. I was givin' off electricity or something. I guess there's no hidin' it."
"You boppin' her or anything?"
"Me to know and you to find out!"
"Come on, bwana! You know what Nicky and me did!"
"I didn't go askin' about it!"
"I gotta wait 'til there's Joey Juniors running around town until you tell me?"
"When they're runnin' around town you can guess." Oh, shit! "Scott?"
"If you ... you and Nick ... I mean ... how would you ... Shit! No Scott Junior?"
"No Nickette either. Maybe we can get a gerbil."
"You already thought about that?"
"It bother you?"
"Yeah. That part hurts. Nick, too. Especially him. He's the last one. Nobody can carry on the name, and I know it bugs him."
This was getting deep. "Scott?"
"If you keep me supplied in mayonnaise, we'll probably have some extras that you guys can take."
That got a laugh. "Extra kids?"
"Yeah, I mean how many does one guy really need?"
"Only one, I guess. You'd really do that?"
"I didn't think so. Would you trade one for a nice cat?"
"What kinda cat?"
"How about a nice big orange one ... that meows and purrs and sleeps on your stomach?"
"I always wanted a pet. I'll have to think about that. Make me an offer when the time comes."
We sat quietly for a while longer. Listening to each other's music and just enjoying being together.
The next day we had to get back into high gear to prepare for our concert. We helped Scott's father set up the music room so there'd be room for all the people. A rental company came with folding chairs and we had to carry them all down through the barn and set them up. Keith and Nick and Nick's father came over to help. There was a raised platform that we had to assemble for a stage. Then we had to move the instruments and test everything. Scott's Mom had hired a caterer for the next day, so we had to clean out the upstairs part of the barn so they'd have a place to put their tables and things. We polished up all the instruments so they'd look good. Then Scott got a real panicked look on his face.
"What're we gonna wear?"
Scott's father said we shouldn't have uniforms or anything, but we should pretty much dress alike. He suggested jeans and regular school shirts, just not all one color. That sounded good to everyone except me, as I didn't have any jeans. I always hated the feel of denim cloth, and always wore corduroys. I was assured that one wierdo in the band wouldn't matter much, and that I should just wear blue cords. Nobody was going to be looking at my pants, anyhow. Well, I was hoping at least one person would be, but I kept that to myself.
I had to go home for a while in the afternoon because my Dad's best friend 'Uncle Roy' and his wife were visiting. I loved these people dearly, but my head was clearly still back at Scott's and what I was missing out on. I was fretting all the time I was there, until My father apologized to them and told me to go the hell back to Scott's house.
When I got back, the work appeared to be all done. Scott, Nick and Keith were sitting on the porch surrounded by soda cans and chip bags. Panic had found its way into Nick and Scott's heads and Keith was trying to reassure them. He'd been in marching bands and school bands since he was little and it wasn't gonna bother him. I immediately panicked myself. This was tomorrow we're talking about here, no longer some day off in the future.
The three of us were convinced that this idea had come from the dark side. None of us remembered agreeing to anything. We convinced each other that we were sure to choke and make a mess of the whole thing. Keith threatened to shove drumsticks up our asses if we choked. Nick thought drumsticks might be a bit extreme, but wondered aloud if corks might keep us from shitting our pants.
It suddenly dawned on me to ask Scott if they'd talked about an opening song, and he'd forgotten all about it. Thinking about that kind of calmed us down, and we ended up in the music room to try the things we'd thought of and pick one. As soon as I started to play the nervousness kind of faded from me. We finally agreed to start the set with 'Momma Don't Allow', which is really simple and straightforward. We decided to go through the playlist one time, and were about halfway through when Scott started worrying about what to say between songs and stuff.
"Don't say anything!" It was Scott's Dad. I hadn't seen him come in.
"Don't you say a word tomorrow when you're on the stage! Nobody's coming to hear you say dumb things. They want to hear music, and anything you say will break the mood. Don't say hi. Don't introduce the band. Don't say thank you. Keep your mouths shut! If people are clapping after a song, just smile and take a little bow - just your heads. When it quiets down, start your next song. After the last song, Keith, you stand up. The rest of you take as deep a bow as you're comfortable with. If people are still clapping, do it again. You should actually practice your bow now, so you don't all do something different."
We had some fun fooling around with that, and we finally decided that since I was on Scott's right and Nick was on his left we'd hold our guitars in those respective hands and take our bow, following whatever Scott did. Keith would stand behind the drums and do the same thing. We practiced until Scott's father was satisfied that we didn't look like we were giving Keith the moon. Then we played the last song on the list and tried it out. Scott's Dad made like he was the whole audience, clapping and yelling and whistling. After our bow, he kept going, so we did it again. And again. After the fifth time, he stopped, saying his hands and throat were sore.
After that session, we all felt better about the next day. Scott's Dad gave us a ride home, telling each of us not to worry about anything as he dropped us off. He gave us one last word of advice, which was to look through the audience, not at any particular faces. That way we'd seem involved with them, but it wouldn't be intimidating to us.
It was early, so I stayed up and talked to my family for a while. When I went up to go to bed, I was pretty sure my nerves would keep me up all night, but I actually fell asleep quickly and slept through the night.
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