Friday, November 12, 2010

Not Bitter At All

It is so hard to pry me out of my house. For real, you guys, I am terrible about that. Even things that are awesome I generally have to really think about before saying yes. I overcome this by playing on my sense of obligation. I know that "should" isn't a word we should tie ourselves to but if it catapults me out of my down feather-filled ruts then so be it.

Last week an old friend messaged me on Facebook that his band was playing in New York at The Bitter End on Saturday. Now, I love Drew and I love the Bitter End and I'm not exactly luke warm on the whole music thing, either, so this is easy, right? No. I said something noncommittal and began to gird my loins for leaving the house. I won't get there on time, music never starts on time. I'll walk a certain route and look out for cannoli, a cannoli would be a good carrot for this trip. I'll order my 2 requisite drinks right away and not get my hopes up, the band never has time to hang out too long. They've got fans and whatnot.

You already know how this is going to turn out, right?

I got a bus right away, followed by a train right away, followed by a walk where there were no cannoli but there was a creperie but I passed it by saying I could get one on the way home, it would be too messy to sneak into the club. I walked in exactly as the band was taking the stage. As I passed by one corner of it Drew looked down, I waved, he grinned and walked toward me and the band leader started the first tune. So he played, as he should, and I took my seat.

It was a great set and I'd love to tell you more about the music but I can't. See, the thing is that the last really clear memory I have of Drew is watching him play Freebird in our high school's gymnasium at an end of year concert. My last end of the year concert at that school, if I recall. He was 16, I was 18. We were in band together. He played tuba and I played trombone. We were, for the most part, the lower brass section. He also played guitar and I sang but not together. He's a good guy, a quintessentially New England guy. I can tell, just from the little that Facebook and a gig and a short conversation give you, that he's all those things I love about New England guys. He can change a tire and write a song. He can rewire an amp and conduct Daddy Camp. He can read a map and tell a good joke.

When the set was over he immediately began helping to break down their set up and help the next band get going. That doesn't always happen, believe me when I say this. Even when good people are playing. I hit the ladies room and he just kept moving equipment and finally he emerged from the green room and said, "You wanna come back stage."

Let's reflect for a moment that never in the history of ever have I been invited backstage by a band. And I know a lot of bands. It just hasn't panned out.  The green room is a seatless equipment room in the back of the bar with walls covered in graffiti. It was awesome.

So we began to talk. He told me about his kids and his wife and his music career and his Jeep and he introduced me to his drummer. I danced around the topic of my life. His smile is the same and talking to him was easy. When you build a friendship using whispered snark and passed notes in the very back of the band room one class period a day every day for two years it's usually a pretty easy, fluid one. And, lucky for me, it still is. All of a sudden he said, "Do you know A_____?" Dude, we grew up in a small New England town, of course I know A. She was out front and she, too, looks exactly like she did a hundred thousand years ago when we were in High School. We talked about music and family and home and New York and who knows what all else. We talked for the whole set of the band that went on after Drew and then he had to pack up and go. He was starting home that night and finishing the trip as soon as he could on Sunday. So we said goodbye 10 or 12 times and promised to keep in touch about the holidays and I left him negotiating with his bandmates about loading out their gear.

I walked home past that creperie but I didn't stop in. I didn't need it.

*Drew not pictured.


  1. Awesome. Really Awesome.

  2. Delightful. I'm a lot like that too, btw, I have to be pried out of the house .... though I rarely regret it. I'm much better last-minute then planned, because then I don't fret so much or invent as many excuses.