My First Love: Hugo Man of a Thousand Faces

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hugo-thousand-faces

Just recently one of my good friends procured a doll that I had coveted since elementary school: Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces.

You should of seen my expression when he told me about finding Hugo in almost mint condition… that most of his pieces were included (even his sideburns!)… and yes… he had received him in the original packaging.

I tell you… my face must have shown the pain and longing I felt for my first love… the shame and humiliation I had endured… knowing that I one day carelessly tossed him aside, left him to fend on his own, while I headed off to a joyous time at summer camp, not knowing that my mother would seize the opportunity of my absence, root through my room, and quickly hand Hugo and other misfit toys over to the Goodwill.

I looked at my friend’s new Hugo doll and suddenly, I felt an irrational anger. Just like a child unwilling to share, I wanted to snatch that Hugo box from out of his hands and make a mad dash to my car where I could sit and play with him free from interruption.

But just as I was about to throw a tantrum and exclaim that Hugo should really be mine, my friend said, his voice sweet as he held the box gingerly in his large manly hands and looked lovingly at the photos and description, “I always wanted a Hugo. But no one ever got him for me.”

And I felt my heart give… I wanted to steel myself to the moment but I couldn’t… my envy turned into understanding: I knew what it felt like to pray for Hugo and believe you weren’t going to get him.

I couldn’t begrudge him this gift. I smiled and expressed my happiness at his find, while my thoughts turned back to my own childhood.

It was Christmas, 1975. I was ten years old.

My world had consisted of a multitude of Barbies and G.I Joes.

I had every doll that you could imagine.

I had dream houses and Barbie jets.

G.I Joe tanks and an arsenal of weapons.

I had elaborate stories for each one of my dolls; most of them hinging on the fact that we were in the midst of the Vietnam war during 1975 and my Barbies were always waiting, hoping, praying that my G.I Joe dolls would return safely from war.

I had just come back inside after making my large and very scary clown doll, attack my entire Barbie village while the G.I Joes tried to contain the situation to a “20 mile radius,” when I heard an announcer’s voice from our old Zenith console TV shout: HUGO CAN BE ANYTHING AND HE’S A HAND PUPPET TOO!

Something about his voice seemed “urgent.”

As if I was about to miss out on the deal of a life time.

I ran to the living room and watched as a boy, about the same age as me, used Hugo’s numerous disguises to create “thousands of pretend fiends.”

I knew immediately: I had to have him.

I screamed for my mother who took one look at the TV and said, “That is the most hideously ugly doll I have every seen. I’m not buying you that” and headed back to the kitchen to finish making our tuna, toast and gravy for our Saturday dinner.

I was barely deterred.

I knew how to lobby for a toy.

I would make a campaign to win my Hugo.

I started by leaving my Richie Rich and Little Archie comic books laying around the house, because I found that they always had an ad for Hugo, on the back page.

Each time the commercial came on the TV I would mimic the announcer’s voice loudly and draw attention to the screen.

I wrote my Christmas list early and HUGO was the only item on it.

And when I was afraid that even that might fail, I prayed out loud each night that Jesus would not only protect me while I slept but also bring me Hugo… just Hugo… and with him… I could save the world!

By the time Christmas morning arrived I could barely contain myself.

I was up by 3am, begging at my parents’ bedside, to open presents early.

I’m surprised they didn’t get out of bed and spank me senseless with the orange Hot Wheel track… their weapon of choice… but they didn’t. They told me I could grab my Christmas stocking, open it in my room, and not to come back to wake them again until it was a more reasonable hour like 5am.

I sat on the floor of my room and looked at the pathetic offering in my stocking: a candy cane, an orange, a bag of jacks, a box of crayons and a coloring book.

Nothing was enough without Hugo.

The hours until 5am were some of the most painful of my young life… each second an eternity… as I lay on my stomach, ate my orange, and colored.

When my kitty cat clock finally hit the magic hour of FIVE OH OH… I ran down the stairs at a furious pace… rushed past the Christmas tree to scream for my brothers who slept in the downstairs rooms off the back hallway, and then did a quick reverse and ran back to our tree.

I looked at all of the unwrapped gifts Santa had brought to us: Schwinn banana seat bicycles, Malibu Barbie, the game of Sorry, but no Hugo in sight.

I tried to look happy.

I tried not to behave as a spoiled brat.

But I would have traded everything under that tree for my Hugo: EVERYTHING.

An hour passed by with each of us taking turns opening gifts while my mother and father sat in the recliner chairs, sipping their coffee, and trying to keep some semblance of order in the present opening rotation.

And soon… all of the presents were open…

All of the wrapping paper was being burned brilliantly, by my brothers, in our fireplace… while I sat in the corner by the stairs, pretending to play with my Malibu Barbie, my head down, big warm tears rolling down my cheeks.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job of being quiet and hiding my pain but I guess I should have known that I couldn’t hide my emotions from my parents.

My father came over and stood beside me, his COOL menthol cigarette in one hand, coffee cup in the other.

“What’s a matter with you?” he barked.

I shook my head… afraid to speak… afraid that I would sob and look like an idiot that didn’t appreciate what was given to me.

My mom shouted from the kitchen, “I think you have another present behind the tree.”

And for a brief moment… my hope returned.

I dropped Malibu Barbie and crawled across the floor, slid under the pine branches of our tree, and reached to the far back corner where I found a box that looked… unfortunately… like a shoebox.

I pressed my back against the wood paneling of our wall and sat… unwilling to come out and open yet another disappointment… a new pair of Ked’s or worse yet… Wallabees.

“Come out,” my dad said.

I crawled from behind the tree and sat with the box in my hands.

“Open it,” he told me.

I said a silent prayer… a final prayer for Hugo.

I reached up and slowly began to rip the Santa paper off the box.

Through a small hole in the top I saw a large “H” and suddenly the rest of the moment escapes me.

I think I actually lost my mind.

There he was!

MY HUGO!

MY MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES!

I squealed with delight and rushed up the stairs to open the box in private.

It was even better than I imagined.

I opened the instruction manual and began to count off the itemized list of disguises:

  • 1 wig
  • 1 goatee/hairpiece
  • 2 glue sticks
  • 2 sideburns
  • 1 mask
  • 4 eyebrows/mustaches
  • 2 noses
  • 2 glasses
  • 2 chins
  • 1 eye patch
  • 2 eye pieces
  • 1 bandage (with fake bloodstain!)
  • 4 scars A bunch of warts/moles
  • 1 set of fangs

It was fantastic.

I spent the entire morning making Hugo into numerous fiends while my brothers sat next to me, eating crispy bacon, mesmerized by my immediate “mastery” of disguises.

Hugo became the villain and the hero in each and everyone of my stories.

He sat proudly on my desk, his mysterious smile, holding all of my childhood secrets that I had quietly whispered to him in moments of play.

Yes… Hugo was my best friend and confidant until that fated day my mother got her hands on him and finally got rid of the “hideously ugly” doll I had begged for.

I often wondered why she got him for me to begin with if she felt so strongly about him?

Maybe she had once wished for a toy that she had never received.

Or maybe it was my father’s doing.

But either way… Hugo was the best Christmas present of my entire childhood.

The Food Poisioning Incident: Or how I found out that Stephen truly loved me.

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poison

Many years ago, when Stephen and I were first dating. We liked to go out to Hof’s Hut for dinner.

It was just one of those silly stupid things you do when you are first dating: Go to “your” regular spot. Order “your” regular dish… and try on “being” a regular couple.

It had only been about a month, but we seemed to be doing a pretty good job of getting along and easily bonded over our shared love of Chicken Tortilla soup.

So one night, we followed our regular routine: soup at Hof’s… and then headed back to my house to lay on the bed and watch some mindless TV.

I don’t remember who fell asleep first… but I do remember who woke up first: that would be me.

I felt funny.

I felt woozy and sweaty… poo sick basically and so I quietly snuck off to the bathroom where in just a matter of seconds… I eliminated what I thought was my entire dinner and most likely also my meals from the previous day.

Like most people… for a moment… I felt relief and was sure that I was fine.

I washed my hands, splashed water on my face, and then headed back to bed.

It wasn’t more than a moment later that my stomach began to cramp and I knew that I was in trouble.

This time… there was no “walk” to the bathroom… I raced towards the toilet… just making it in time… where once again… I thought that everything exiting my body could not have been found even if I had chosen to do a HIGH colonic.

I put my elbows on my knees… I felt the room spin…. I was hot and irritated and upset that I was dating.

I was irrationally angry with Stephen who was sleeping peacefully in my bed.

I heard an Exorcist style voice from inside me hiss, “GET OUT!”

But there was no movement from the other room.

Stephen slept on… blissfully unaware of the horror that was taking place in the bathroom.

This time… I was unable to exit the toilet for a good fifteen minutes.

I knew then, that something we had just eaten had made me sick.

We had basically had exactly the same thing yet Stephen was fine.

It must of been the Ranch salad dressing, I thought to myself. He had the Honey Mustard. I seethed. “Fucker…” I whispered. “Fucking men.”

When I felt able to rise, I quietly crawled back into bed, weak and worn and hoped that I would be able to sleep.

“Are you okay?” I heard Stephen whisper from the other side of the bed.

I wanted to say, “No. Go home now. I’m sick and I don’t want you here to witness it.”

But we were new in our relationship and I was still trying to hide behind the facade of the perfect woman and so I said, “No I’m fine. I was just a bit sick to my stomach but I’m okay now.”

I would have to say… that amongst my many “famous last words” that these sit firmly at the top of my “wish I hadn’t said that” list.

I closed my eyes… and fell to sleep… thankful that I seemed to be stable after my incident.

I don’t know how much time passed… ten minutes… fifteen… but I had crossed over to the place in which you are definitely asleep but still… something in your brain… is awake and watching. Like… when you are observing your own dream or listening to someone rustling around in the kitchen late night… a quiet alarm really somewhere off in the distance… but still not yet in a place where you are “willing” to wake up and see what’s going on… and that… is when I needed to fart.

I could feel the urge to push and yes… somewhere… inside of my twilight… I thought… maybe it would be a bad idea… but I was too far gone… too far worn and groggy and so I pushed and immediately felt the warm rush of wet sludge fill the back of my panties as if filling a hot jelly doughnut.

My eyes opened wide… I moaned in embarrassment when I realized what had happened. I saw the stain on the bed and ran to the bathroom, hoping nothing more would escape my pants.

I barely made it to the toilet before I began vomiting.

Can you imagine?

Four weeks of dating…

Still in the limerance of the moment…

Never a burp or a fart or a misstep and now… on the floor… shit seeping out of my underwear…. my head halfway down the toilet… vomiting and crapping myself… sobbing uncontrollably between bursts of excrement and bile: the perfect picture of Aphrodite in all of her glory.

I heard a gasp and looked up to see Stephen standing at the bathroom door and that is when I completely lost it.

“GO AWAY!” I screamed. “DON’T LOOK AT ME!”

But look he did.

In fact, he even walked into the bathroom, grabbed a hair clip from the vanity and pulled my hair back.

My crying grew louder… so touched by his small act of kindness and so embarrassed that my current “love interest” was seeing me at my absolute worst.

“Please go home Stephen,” I cried. “Please… I swear I will be okay. I just need you to go home now.”

I felt him place his hand on the back of my head for a moment before he walked out of the bathroom and closed the door quietly behind him.

I cried hard against the rim of the toilet seat. My sobs echoing in the bowl before I once again lost all control and my body gave way at both ends.

I stayed there for sometime before my pain eased… and then I stepped into the shower: panties and shirt still on… to clean the excrement from my body and clothes, before stripping naked, drying off with a towel, and heading back to the bedroom to clean up the mess that I had left all over the sheets.

But when I opened the bathroom door, and walked to the bedroom… there was no mess.

There were fresh sheets on the bed… a large towel placed across the spot where I would be sleeping… a lined, clean trashcan by the side of the bed in case I got sick again in the night… and a good, good man waiting to see if I was okay.

“I couldn’t leave you,” Stephen said. “I wouldn’t have felt right about that.”

I can’t tell you how much this still touches me today: to be with someone who doesn’t leave… who doesn’t abandon someone at their worst.

I sobbed all over again knowing that this time… I was the lucky one.

Stephen helped me into bed where he held me close until I fell into a deep sleep that lasted into the early morning.

Of course… by then… Stephen was also shitting himself… vomiting uncontrollably… and writhing around on the bathroom floor in pain.

It was the soup… not the dressing: Our shared love of Chicken Tortilla had betrayed us.

But seriously… it was okay.

We spent 24 hours caring for each other living on Saltines and Gatorade.

We laughed… we cried… we crapped… we vomited… and we swore… and then… we shared a vow… a solemn vow… that we would never eat the Chicken Tortilla Soup at Hof’s Hut ever, ever, again… as long as we both shall live.

Saturday July 13th through Saturday July 27th: Ms Wood will be on SUMMER VACATION!

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Enjoy one of your favorite posts from the past until I return to entertain you!

And thank you for your loyal following.

D.D. Wood

Joe and Dave Light the Street on Fire: A Cautionary Tale

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Joe and Dave

When I first married Joe, he was the lead singer for a well-known punk rock band and Dave Mello, was his best pal and his new bass player.

They were always together making surf boards, surfing, working on cars, having their little “bromance” and as any good wife knows… it is a joy when your husband has a best friend.

Their “boy” project at the time was a 1959 Ford Fairlane that Joe was in the process of restoring.

He had just had the engine rebuilt at a shop, and he and Dave had the block back under the hood and were in the process of priming the carburetor when all hell broke loose.

I was minding my own business, upstairs in our small apartment across from what now is the Long Beach Towne Center.

I was keeping an eye on Dylan, who was barely 18 months old, as he rode on his favorite rocking horse, which sat sideways next to the large picture window, watching his Dad and “Uncle” Dave work on the car down in the street below.

“Da,” Dylan said which he used freely for both Dave and Dad and just about every other thought he had under the sun in that little baby brain of his.

“Yes,” I cooed. “Dad and Dave are working on the car.”

He rocked on his little horse excitedly repeating, “Da! Da! Da!” as he watched the boys work.

“Yes,” I repeated. “Da. Da. Da.”

I walked into the other room for just a moment, when I heard a sound that any parent knows is trouble: the sound of complete silence.

The rocking horse had stopped.

The baby made no noise.

I paused in my housework and listened before I heard the words “Uh oh” from Dylan’s baby mouth.

Now, I had never heard Dylan say anything but “Da” so that was shocking enough. But the word that followed just about floored me.

“Shit” I heard the baby say plain as day and then the springs creaked on the horse, his feet padded a few steps, and his little hands began to bang against the plate glass window as he shouted “Da! Da! Da!” at the boys below.

I dropped the laundry I had been folding, and rushed into the living room to find the baby now quiet, head leaning against the window, his eyes large and round, his hands pressed flat against the glass, his mouth in a tiny exclamation of an “Oooooooooh” and before I could even start to comprehend my two-year-old’s first full word being “shit,” I saw a large plume of smoke hanging above the hood of the car in the air, and Dave yelling at Joe, “Try it again! But no more gas!”

To this day, I don’t know if Joe actually really didn’t hear Dave say “No more gas” or if he was just being obstinate, but… he completely ignored Dave and poured a large stream of gas from the gas can in the carb before he raised his empty hand in a big “thumb’s up.”

Dave, oblivious to Joe’s actions, hidden behind the protection of the driving wheel and the opened hood, hit the ignition and I watched as a large fireball exploded out from under the hood of the car and blasted into the air.

“JESUS CHRIST!” Dave screamed as he jumped from the car and then stopped short as he watched Joe, gas can in hand, jump backwards flailing his arms wildly as the flame shot up through the carb, ignited the stream of gas coming from the can, and left a trail of fire that blazed steadily across the sky, lighting Joe up as if he were holding a giant Roman candle on the 4th of July and using it to make fiery decorative loops.

“Throw it Joe!” Dave screamed. “Throw the fucking can!”

Joe panicked.

Mouth open.

He looked back and forth from each hand. I could see from even where I was that his rock-and-roll 90’s hair-do, his giant bushy eyebrows and hipster goatee had been singed to a crisp.

If it wasn’t so terrifying… I would have laughed at the comic farce playing out in the arena below but, I knew enough about combustion to know that if Joe didn’t throw that can within the next few seconds he was toast.

“THROW THE GAS CAN JOE!” I screamed through the glass and though he couldn’t hear me… it seemed my urgent need for him to listen had somehow broken the spell and Joe flung the gas can as far as he could.

I saw both boys rush to outrun the explosion.

For a moment it felt as if I were back in time watching two small children play soldiers at war.

They made it to the curb before the can hit the ground and exploded into a fiery bomb that was quite astounding.

Joe did some weird Chuck Norris tuck-and-roll before he leaped to his feet, leaving Dave behind him face down on the grass, as he ran into the building next to ours.

I watched Dave raise his head.

His look… one of dismay.

Joe had left his man behind.

A cardinal sin when in the midst of the heated passion of a bromance.

We all heard a loud crashing of glass followed by Joe dashing back across the street with a fire extinguisher to put out the blaze as Dave smiled, now sure in his best friend’s love for him, as Joe raced throughout the street, trying to right his wrong, putting out large patches of flame, as Dave looked on in admiration.

“Ooooooooooooh!” Baby Dylan said as he watched from the window.  “Uh oh Mama?” he pointed towards the street and then looked up at me.

I picked him up and cuddled him in my arms, glad to know that he was becoming a virtual vocabulary savant from this apocalyptic event.

“Yes baby,” I said as I kissed his cheek. “Uh oh.”

“Shit,” he said again.

I turned to look at him.

“No, baby,” I said sternly. “No!”

I thought he might actually begin to cry for a minute, but then the fire truck rounded the corner, sirens blaring, lights spinning, and Dylan became mesmerized by their brilliance as I heard the boys’ cowboy boots pound up the stairs and then bound through the door where they pulled the curtains closed, dropped to their knees on the floor, and hid low from “the man.”

They watched quietly, afraid to make a sound, afraid they might be seen, as the fire department assessed the incident.

Black 59′ Fairlane: gas trail circling the motor.

Broken glass: fire extinguisher thrown empty to the ground.

Entire street: burnt and black as if some type of car bomb had just gone off in Beirut.

Neighbors peeking from the windows but unwilling to rat anyone out to the authority: the unwritten rule of all good neighbors.

“Shit!” Joe said.

“Shit,” parroted Baby Dylan.

“He said a word!” Joe exclaimed.

“No shit Joe!” I snapped without thinking.

“Shit,” Baby Dylan said again.

“Jesus!” I snapped. “Are you happy now?”

Dave, always the peacemaker, and afraid that I actually might be angry enough to turn them in myself, snatched the baby from my arms and said calmly, “No baby, no.”

I gave Joe a hard look and mouthed the words, “Great.”

Dylan lay his head on Dave’s shoulder and curled his tiny little fingers through Dave’s long hair and said, “Da. Da. Da.”

We watched hidden for the next thirty minutes until the fire department finally went away, sure that the flames were long since extinguished, as baby Dylan slept in the crook of Dave’s arms.

“D.D. did you see that shit?” Joe whispered, teasing me, as both boys started to giggle in silent fits of laughter and tried not to wake the baby.

“Oh I saw it alright,” I said before I rolled my eyes at both of them. “Not funny!”

They sat on the couch, pretending to be forlorn until I exited the room in a over-dramatic huff.

Like any good mother… I let them believe they were in serious trouble, due for a scolding, and a complete disappointment to me.

I went back to folding laundry in the other room when I heard Joe whisper, “Did you see that shit Dave?”

And Dave, pretending to have a coughing attack just so he could get away with laughing like a naughty little boy, giggled as he held my sleeping baby in his arms happy to be in cahoots with his best friend.

Kicking Joe’s Big Toenail Off: A Lobster Tale

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Lobster

I have always been… what you would call… a troubled sleeper.

It wasn’t like Joe, my now ex-husband, didn’t know this going into the marriage: He’d already been quite at home in my bed for several years.

He knew about my walking through the house in the middle of the night for no apparent reason, talking about someone in my sleep whose name was “Mr. Pig.”

He tolerated my hitting, slapping, biting as I slumbered… but I guess when I kicked off his big toenail during the lobster incident…it really was the final straw in our night time sleeping routine and maybe… actually the catalyst of our marital collapse.

We were living in our apartment at the time, and I had just watched a National Geographic special about lobster migration.

I didn’t even know that lobsters migrated and Joe, already queeeeezed out by the large numbers of lobsters migrating across the bottom of the mid-Atlantic ridge, via our TV screen, begged me to change the channel before he totally freaked.

My mean streak however, caused me to hedge a few moments longer, enjoying watching him squirm, before giving in… but I have to admit… it really was an odd and seriously disturbing sight.

There were thousands of giant lobsters, piled together like bright red cockroaches of the sea, propelling themselves backwards at an alarming rate, towards God knows where, their tails flapping rapidly, pinchers acting as flippers, as the line crossed miles and miles of ocean floor.

It was creepy.

I shut the TV off and went into the bedroom to read.

Now, I’m not really sure when exactly I dozed off, but when I woke, I sat up in bed and stared at the giant lobster sitting at the bottom left hand corner of the mattress.

He was startling in size.

His beady black eyes glaring at me.

He seemed to be daring me to make a move, to put up a fight, his pinchers pulsating in-and-out ready to snap off my finger if I even tried to take him.

I knew what I had to do.

I gently pulled my foot out from under the covers and swung my hardest kick right to the lobster’s face.

He screamed as if I had just thrown him into a boiling pot of hot water to be cooked before I heard his body make a large “thump” and land at the foot of the bed.

I was ecstatic!

I had saved my husband from the lobster’s inevitable wrath!

I was Queen of the Bed!

Queen of the World!

And so…unable to separate my sleep disorder from real life, I woke completely to find Joe, writhing on the floor, screaming in absolute pain, confused and alarmed.

I turned on the bedside light and looked at his face: He was bewildered, eyes the size of saucers.

“My toe!” He screamed. “My God my big toe! What the hell was it? What the hell happened?”

How do you look at your spouse and tell them the honest to God truth?

I tell you… it isn’t easy.

I looked at him with my best pouty face and said in my littlest voice, “There was this giant lobster migrating across the bed and…”

His face changed from one of total confusion to downright anger.

“Fuck you!” He screamed. “Seriously D.D. fuck you!”

“But Joe,” I tried to explain as I pulled back the cover and crawled out of the bed to help him, “It was…”

I stopped.

I knew that what I had just seen was about to escalate this incident to about ten-fold in a matter of seconds and I was preparing myself for it.

“Joe,” I said calmly. “Um, I think we need to go to the hospital.”

Joe ‘s face went from anger to total panic.

He looked down and began screaming. “You’ve kicked it off! The whole fucking thing! Oh my God! You Mother Fucker! My toenail is gone! It’s gone!”

Blood was everywhere.

I began circling the floor as if I were Jackie O. trying to find JFK’s piece of head and stick it back on.

“Joe,” I cried, “I’m gonna find it. I’m gonna put it back on. It was the lobster… I swear I was saving you and…”

“YOU CAN’T PUT IT BACK ON!” He screamed as he rolled into the bathroom and kicked the door closed with his good foot. “FUCK YOU!”

It was actually the most “fuck yous” ever used towards me at one period of time in my life.

If I hadn’t been worried that Joe was gonna come out of the bathroom and shank me with the toilet plunger or the nose hair trimmers, I swear I probably would have chided him on his lack of vernacular.

I sat on the bed in silence… listening to my husband moaning in the bathroom.

I waited patiently until he came out, towel wrapped around his foot, one flip flop on the other, a pair of old athletic shorts and a t-shirt that read “Eddie Would Go” hanging loosely from his tattooed frame.

I watched as he grabbed his wallet and car keys.

“Do you want me to go with you?” I asked sweetly.

“Fuck no,” he said as he stomped across the living room, kicking baby Dylan’s Mr. Magoo car with his bad toe, which resulted in another slew of curse words and a wild swinging of both arms, before he reached for the door, walked out, and slammed it behind him.

It was two hours later before he returned: big toe swaddled in bandages, bottle of extra strength Tylenol in his hand and it was two months before I was forgiven for the incident and to be honest… I really don’t think I ever was.

It’s been over fifteen years since I tried to save my husband from the giant lobster on our bed and yet it was just three weeks ago that Joe reminded me, how I ruined FOREVER… his absolutely perfect toe.

Robbie Tells Reno What For

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Robbie and I have been in a band together for over twenty years.

Sometimes we love each other.

Sometimes we hate each other.

But as it is with most good marriages in life as in art: We can’t seem to live without each other.

Robbie loves to give me a bad time and in fact, just called me at school yesterday and began to verbally abuse me in a long stream of multi-syllabic words, and if I even tried to chime in… would stop and say, “Can you shut the fuck up for just one minute? I mean fuck… just listen to me for once? Just for once!” and then laugh and laugh as if his abuse were amusing… which in all honesty… even though it sometimes does infuriate me… it was.

Robbie, my lead guitar player and co-vocalist in Gypsy Trash, is someone I have always considered as my kindred spirit and so… I would prefer to have attention from him… even if it is totally negative and annoying… them no attention at all: He means that much to me.

And so, I booked a show in Reno and took the “kindred spirit” with me.

I was pretty excited about the trip. I had heard the show was going to be a big event and like the good little “mother hen” that I was… I prepared the mini-van with snacks… plotted our course… had music picked out to perk us up at the boring parts of Interstate 5… and was prepared for a day of fun with Robbie and Corey in the van, Craig, our drummer, following somewhere in his car close behind us with his girlfriend Nickie, and Reno, of course, it’s own entity before us… holding a fabulous string of shows.

There is nothing like being on the road with your band: The camaraderie is palpable.

I pulled up to Robbie’s house, big stupid smile on my face, optimistic about our time together when frumpty-grumpty rolled out of his house with his guitar case and said, “Get the fuck out of the driver’s seat. I’m driving.” Threw his case in the mini-van and said, “Where’s the coffee?”

“I thought we could stop along the way and…”

“Jesus, fuck, D.D!” Robbie interrupted. “You don’t already have the coffee?”

Corey, installed happily in the backseat, rarely the talker, always the introvert, always the peace-keeper mumbled, “I could do with some coffee and then lit up a Lucky Strike, preparing himself for the long drive ahead.”

And it was.

A LONG DRIVE.

Several hours of Corey and Robbie chain-smoking Lucky Strikes over numerous conversations and musical debates, cups of coffee, Robbie’s harassment, Corey’s mumbles, and my people-pleasing all of the way to Reno where… we found out… like most musicians find out at one time in their musical career or another… that the show was not a big festival of fun but a sadly thrown together affair at an old hotel that was currently fighting to regain their liquor and entertainment license.

I won’t even go into Robbie’s tirade here. Just note… that it began with “Jesus fuck” and ended with “God damn it D.D.”

His vehement lecture was close to legendary.

Lucky for me, we were in Reno which meant that gambling and booze were close at hand. So, we met up with Craig, our drummer, played our first afternoon gig to a skimpy audience of about twenty people, before we packed up and headed over to the strip to gamble, booze, and eat before our show the next day.

I didn’t see much of Robbie and Craig… somewhere ensconced in a game of poker… drunk on the free drinks in a matter of minutes… I left to sit at the other end of the casino with Corey, both of us totally sober, as he tried to teach me the finer points of Black Jack.

I wouldn’t say I was a complete and utter failure but, after I knocked my large glass of Coke into the dealer’s chips and cards, alienating myself from almost every seated player and resulting in me being cussed out by two super drunk, spray-tanned orange, bleach-blonde, Reno sluts, I decided to call it a day.

I waited almost two hours in an all-you-can-eat casino restaurant for the boys before I finally realized they were addicted to the cards, and walked back to the hotel where I waited for them to show up.

The next day’s show was not much better… in fact I would say the crowd of twenty had thinned and after a fight with the drummer of Hellbound Hayride, a no talent asshole that almost got his ass kicked by Corey and Robbie for mouthing off to me (one of the perks of being a girl in a band… hardcore violent back-up at your finger tips) Robbie shouted “Fuck this place.”

And we all left to head home to our next gig at the Orange County Tattoo Convention. Supposedly another “big gig” but after this fiasco we just weren’t buying it.

“Fuck that show,” Robbie snapped. “Fuck everything. I need some food. I’m hungry and right now… I fucking hate Reno.”

He flipped off the hotel both hands held high, middle fingers blasting, before we piled back in the mini van to stop for a quick bite at the Donner Pass restaurant before heading home.

“They seriously have a Donner Pass restaurant?” Robbie said as he looked at me and Corey with mock disbelief. “Do these fucking idiots know that the Donner party basically ate each other’s frozen dead asses until a rescue party found them in the spring? Jesus.”

He kicked open the glass entrance door with his boot, sat down at the first empty table and began chain smoking.

Corey and I looked at each other but said nothing.

We knew if this didn’t go well, things were going to turn ugly rather quickly… but when you are a member of band… your loyalty requires you to ride the train wreck to the very end and so… we sat down next to him.

I prayed that nothing would go wrong.

I prayed that we could order quickly.

I prayed that the food would appear in a matter of seconds and that we would be fed, content, and on our way but… that didn’t happen.

An hour later we still hadn’t been served and Robbie was irate.

“What do I have to do to get something to eat around here?” He shouted out to the entire restaurant. “Do I actually have to eat someone’s ass? Is that what you people want? Do you want a fucking show? Do you want some fucking Donner party action at this table?”

Corey lit up another Lucky Strike and calmly gazed around the room, almost challenging anyone to speak up.

I sipped my Coke, focused my eyes towards the ceiling, and pretended I hadn’t heard Robbie say anything really of any interest.

Our waitress grabbed someone’s food off of the hot rack, today I still don’t know if it was ours but at that point…I couldn’t give a flying fuck: I just wanted Robbie satiated and satisfied.

“That’s more like it,” Robbie said as she handed him his plate and he immediately attacked his steak.

“Jesus, I hate this fucking place,” he said through a mouth full of food. He pointed his fork at me as if he were teaching me a lesson, “Town of illiterate idiots, D.D. they don’t even have a fucking clue that the Donner’s ate ass.” And then he attacked his steak again.

Corey took a long drag off of his Lucky Strike and smirked as he looked out the window at the pass.

I was trying not to laugh by now, the embarrassment and the reality of the situation way too much for me.

It was a matter of minutes before we paid our bill, climbed back in the car, and drove to the actual historic location of the inevitable ass eating Donner party episode.

“Shall we go check out some history and see where all this shit went down?” Robbie said, excitement taking over, now that he was fed and away from the travesty that was named, Reno, he was full of historical gusto.

“Lead the way,” Corey said as he followed Robbie down the path into the woods.

I walked behind them, glad that it was modern times, spring, and happy in the knowledge that I would not be eating either of the asses walking in front of me.

In the Recording Studio with Tom Petersson from Cheap Trick: My first Rock n Roll CRUSH.

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In 1990, at the age of 24, when I began to record my first solo album with Disney’s Hollywood Records, I was pleasantly surprised by my Producer Julian Raymond… who knew about my first “secret” Rock n Roll crush.

He knew that THIS band had been my first arena show EVER…

He knew that I still had all of their pop-punk buttons hidden in my ballerina jewelry box…

He knew that when I was 13, I would often lie on my bed and sing their lyrics, while holding their record cover close to my face, and kissing my “secret” Rock n Roll crush, during all of the silent pauses between everyone of their hit songs.

Yes…  he knew all about my affair with Tom Petersson, bass player of Cheap Trick, and it seemed that he had somehow become “Wish Master” the man who had the ability to grant me my Rock n Roll fantasy: a date with Tom Petersson.

“I have someone coming down to the studio to record with you this next week,” Julian said.

“Really?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Julian smirked. “I think you might have heard of him. His name is Tom Petersson.”

I felt like my head was actually going to explode.

I tried to play it cool, like all good Rock and Roll musicians are supposed to do, but my “Folk Roots” must have kicked in because I became an emotional mess in a matter of seconds.

“TOM PETERSSON?” I shouted. “TOM? MY TOM?”

I never thought I would hear a man giggle, but Julian actually did, as he left me in the recording studio and walked back into the control booth.

I watched as he pushed the control room sound button and said to me, “Yep. Your Tom Petersson.”

My heart was racing.

I had been madly in love with Tom Petersson all of my 7th grade year and way into the summer.

He was beautiful to me in every way.

His dark hair.

His blue eyes.

His flirt of a smile and of course…

the biggest seducer of them all…. his talent.

Tom Petersson.

My secret Rock n Roll crush.

With me.

An entire week.

Working on MY MUSIC.

It was too good to be true.

I’d like to say that I didn’t primp for the big event with Tom but… I did.

My X hadn’t seen me so pumped up about “being with a man” since our wedding day.

“He’s just a bass player,” he mumbled. His lead singer ego all in an uproar.

I gave him a big hug, “You’re my man,” I whispered and watched as he smiled and toddled off to go play with one of his tube amps.

Don’t get me wrong… I adored and loved my lead singer husband, but there was no way in hell I could tell him that all of my life I had been secretly in love with bass players… yes.. the list is actually legendary and no need to name names… you all know who you are… and Tom Petersson was at the top of my list.

Bass players always seemed so mellow, laid back… cool.

They dropped a goose egg here or there…

They never stole the limelight…

They kept the rhythm going and popped out of the mix every once in awhile to shine.

So I shaved my legs, and curled my hair, and picked out my cutest dress to wear the first day that I would meet my big crush.

And when Tom came into the studio… you could imagine my surprise… when the first thing I noted was his size: not much taller than me actually. I had always pictured him larger than life… but as he strutted towards me, I could see that he had this charisma about him that seemed to radiate throughout the room.

He walked forward, skinny jeans, expensive London mod boots, tight black t-shirt, open white suit jacket…  his hair cropped punky and short now… but still dark… and his eyes… still a brilliant blue and said, “D.D.!” as if I had always been and would always be his best friend as he reached out, hugging and kissing me, until I thought I really would just lay down happily and die.

I rarely get tongue-tied and I rarely get star-struck but for a moment… I felt myself turn back into a 13-year-old DORK, though I tried to contain it, as I gave him a great big smile before saying, “Tom!” Just a little too loudly… and a little too breathy… giving away a bit of my junior high school persona.

“Can’t wait to play on your tracks,” he said. “Good stuff.”

And I thought that of all the validation I had ever received in my life time, to have one of your star musician crushes tell you that your music was “good” basically “worthy of their attention” that they would take time out of their superstar life to come and play with you… well I tell you… it was the best validation ever…

“Pull my finger,” Tom said abruptly, causing me to immediately step out of my starstruck validation moment, while realizing that his voice had the same rough and raspy texture as David Johansen’s from the New York Dolls.

“Excuse me?” I said.

“Pull it,” Tom repeated.

I hesitated a moment before I reached out and grabbed his finger, and the next thing I knew, Tom Petersson blasted out a terrific fart.

His laugh had a lot of bass and a booming tenor… it was a guffaw that filled the room.

“Don’t you just love fart jokes,” he said as he walked into the recording studio and got his bass out and ready to play.

I looked at Julian who said, “Don’t you just love the reality of the situation?”

I’m sure he meant it to be facetious… but actually… I did.

To find out that Tom Petersson was just “one of the guys” a down to earth, super cool, “Good Time Charlie” made me beam from ear to ear.

I couldn’t imagine what the week would hold: the possibilities of fun and trouble were obviously endless.

The next day, I rushed to the studio to be with Tom and found that he had brought me a present.

“D.D.” he said. “You have to see this.” He handed me a video tape.

I was afraid to touch it.

“It isn’t porno,” he said. “It’s Robert Tilton.”

Okay… so maybe I was confused. Did Tom Petersson, my Rock n Roll crush… my Musical God of Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll just give me a tape showcasing an evangelical television preacher?

“Watch it,” he said. “Actually,” He grabbed my hand and dragged me from the studio, “Let’s find a TV and watch it together now.”

We rushed down the hallway, and broke into an office, where we found a TV and VCR and popped the tape into the player.

“You’re gonna love this,” he howled as he grabbed two chairs and pulled me down to sit next to him.

I watched as the tape began to roll and Robert Tilton appeared. He was preaching about the word of the Lord when suddenly he stopped, squinted his eyes to pause for spiritual emphasis, and then a loud fart sound emanated from his ass.

Tom squealed with laughter.

“Isn’t it great?” he said. “Someone took all of his TV sermons and added fart tracks behind it. Isn’t it the best thing ever?”

I can’t say I wasn’t enjoying myself… I was… I was alone with Tom Petersson, I was sharing a personal moment with him, ANYTHING would have made me happy but… I couldn’t help but wonder for a moment, What if Robin Zander were in the room with us? Did he have the same bathroom mentality?

Tom shook my hand, sure that I wasn’t paying proper attention.

“Look D.D.!” He shouted, “Look!”

I watched again as Robert Tilton paused for spiritual significance and a long rapid series of fart sounds descended upon us.

Tom could barely breath. He actually slapped his skinny little Rock n Roll knee, shook his head and sighed before saying, “I just love this,”  and I felt a sudden ache in my heart.

How I wish I could have been on the road with Tom circa 1977.

I bet he was so much fun to travel with.

He must have been the prankster. The trickster. The one always up for a good time. I bet he had never been mean to a fan in his life time. He was everything I could ever want him to be.

Our week together passed by quickly… one prank after another: fart jokes, pages of porn magazines taped under office desks… and in cartage containers… and stuffed into acoustic sound holes of guitars… and when it was time for him to leave… I knew how much I would miss him.

“Stop it,” he said in his deep booming voice. “I’ll see you soon. You’ll come to a show right? We can hang out. Have fun.”

And there it was again… my 13-year-old fantasy come true.

And as the years have passed… it’s been nice to hear from friends in the business that he still asks after me… still rants and raves about our great time together in the studio that week.

And fart jokes and all… my Rock n Roll crush is still… my beautiful legendary gentleman.