Lying to the Lake Patrol in Big Bear

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Charlotte was nine-years-old when I lied to the Lake Patrol.

Dylan and Lily weren’t much older… a few years… but still quite young.

It was our first summer, with all of us together in Big Bear, and I thought it would be fun to rent jet skis.

Everyone in the group had been swimming since they could walk and since I, unlike my brothers, preferred jet skis and water skiing to surfing… I thought it would be fun to show the kids what I could really do.

Was I showing off?

Yes.

Isn’t that what water sports are all about?

I can do things with a jet ski that moms aren’t supposed to do.

Moms apparently are supposed to ride safely.

Moms are supposed to stay close to the kids.

Moms are not to see how deep they can submerge the tail while they spin a tight 360 and then pop the jet ski out of the water with a child on the back of it.

Moms are not supposed to know how to reach under the cover and reset the switch so that the rental jet ski can now do exactly what it is supposed to do: HAUL ASS… but this mom… well, that’s a different story.

I knew that Lily really hated the lake water: she did not want to get wet.

She did however want to ride on the back of the jet ski with Dylan, who she adored at the time, and so poor Charlotte, having no idea yet how crazy I was after only being connected to our family for about six months, was stuck with me.

I putted out to the buoy, looking like the perfect PTA mom, waiting for the children, waving at the lifeguards, riding close to Dylan and Lily, pretending to enjoy the leisurely pace, until I had enough distance from the rental office to open it up.

Dylan was smiling… happy to have his own jet ski to ride. Lily was smiling, happy to be snuggled up to Dylan… and Charlotte had her little fingers wrapped in the belt of my vest… not really worried about anything.

I waited until Dylan pulled along side of me before turning and telling Charlotte to hold on. Now, Dylan didn’t hear me say “Hold on” but he saw my face when I turned back to crank the throttle and he knew (having lived with me since birth) he was in for it.

I gunned the jet ski and shot off across the glass with just one smug look back at Dylan who was trying his best to catch up. I waited until he and Lily were dead center in the lake before I spun a large circle around them and headed back towards them… ready to play chicken before I stopped about twenty feet from where they now were, cranked the handle hard, and watched as a good seven foot high wall of water flattened them.

They didn’t have a chance.

They were tipped over and in the lake in a matter of seconds.

I wasn’t really sure what Charlotte was up to. I could feel her hands now clawed into the armpits of my vest. I’m pretty sure she was screaming bloody murder as we roared up to Dylan and Lily, positive that we were going to kill them, but she hung on through it all and I was quite impressed that the child who once used to stare out the window at me, afraid that I would walk too far away from the house and strangers would somehow jump out of the bush and snatch her while I was somewhere near the garbage cans for five fucking seconds, was actually a bit ballsier than I had given her credit for.

I waited until Dylan and Lily got back on their ski before I took Charlotte for a few more passes at them, hitting them hard again and again with walls of water, before I raced off to freak Charlotte out with some 360’s.

This is when the Lake Patrol came on the scene.

I turned to Charlotte and said, “Whatever you do… don’t speak.”

I doubt she would have… by this time her lips were blue from the cold wind and the cold water, and her face was pale white, ghost like in the terror and realization that she really had picked the wrong jet ski to ride. I saw her glance back towards the dock. I’m sure she was thinking if she just jumped off now and made a swim for it, she wouldn’t go to the Big Bear Lake Patrol jail wherever the hell that was.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” The Lake Patrol officer asked.

“What?” I said, looking confused and humble with my little mom pony tail and my little mom bathing suit.

“We have rules on this lake missy and you just broke every single one of them.”

“I did?” I asked and I used this opportunity to practice my “totally innocent”‘ face which isn’t one that comes easily to me.

“Speed limit, reckless driving, those tricks aren’t allowed in California,” He stopped here and removed his aviator shades and leaned over the edge of the boat. “Did you know that?”

I actually did know that, but the good thing about being a mom, is that most people would believe, as I said earlier, that a mom would NEVER break the rules intentionally.

“Really?” I said. “Officer, I’m so sorry. This is the first time I’ve ever been on a jet ski. I just rented it over there.” I stopped and pointed to the far dock.

He made a face, “Those tricks you were doing were tricks only experienced riders can do.”

I looked at him and blushed. “Really?” I smiled, and pretended to act shocked at my “natural” ability. “I just watched a how-to video on TV about an hour ago and thought I would see if I could try it.”

This was the moment where he could have written me a ticket.

This is the moment where he could have taken me in.

This was the moment where he had to decide if I was a true mom: responsible, honest, mini-van driving, church on Sunday, bake sale cooking woman or…

a she devil… a harpy from the lake… a sea nymph waiting to lure him down.

He chose wrong.

“No more,” he said to me as he pointed his bony, weathered finger my way. “I’m going to be watching you.”

I smiled and nodded before I putted off towards the dock.

“You lied,” Charlotte whispered from the back of the jet ski. “And you’re a teacher,” she said as if God himself was about to come down and smite me.

So I lied again.

“You didn’t want to go to jail did you?” I asked. “You know, they take everyone on the jet ski… not just the driver.”

Charlotte was silent.

I could tell she didn’t know what was worse… hearing a mom and a teacher, a double pillar of the community, lie so blatantly to an Officer of the Law or… believe that she could go to jail at the age of nine.

Either way… in the end I left without a ticket, Dylan and Lily had a good story to tell, and Charlotte learned to never ride on a jet ski with me again.

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

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no swimming

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

Getting Even with Dylan James Wood: The Three Day Slap

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Dylan James Wood is my son.

Those that know him know that he is like a giant bear: large and fuzzy, hands as big as grizzly paws.

He stands about six-foot-one and even on my BEST day I can no longer take him.

Well actually, I might get away with running him over in the mini-van but he’s quick for a big guy so I would have to catch him by surprise which… is exactly what I did the day I slapped the holy shit out of him.

Now, feel free to judge, I really don’t care.

If I want to slap the shit out of my 22-year-old, 250 pound bubba of a baby, who is completely out of line with his mother then I will damn well do it.

I don’t believe in the “no beating” policy.

To quote M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs: “Tell Graham to swing away.”

I like to live by the laws of nature: swift, painful, parental punishments.

And probably right now, someone out there is mumbling, “I hope one day he hits her back. Abusive old bitch.”

And I would say to you: he better start running after he takes a swing.

It would be a good show though and actually it was.

I don’t know what started the incident.

Who knows how he incited me into violence but he did.

We were in the middle of the kitchen, standing toe-to-toe.

I was screeching at him about something that I deemed incredibly important at the time, when he mouthed off and I went to slap him.

I watched as his giant paw of a hand reached out and grabbed my wrist.

My arm stopped mid-swing as my face registered shock.

I looked up at him, this furry Baby Huey of a man, and stared, stunned that he quit my vigilantly justice with one grasp.

I actually heard the sound track from Clint Eastwood’s, A Few Dollars More, reverberate inside of my head as I raised my other hand, furious in my inability to control him, and took another swing.

No way in hell was “Indio” gonna get the better of Clint aka “Monco” I was gonna wind this little jackass’s pocket watch and good.

I swung at him with all my might and watched as he easily bested my shot and now had both of my wrists pinned within the grip of just one of his giant hands.

I was beyond furious: I was enraged.

It was as if I lost my mind: I literally could not control myself. I bent towards him and tried to bite him repeatedly.

He laughed as he used his strength to manipulate me into various positions by changing the degree of bend on my trapped wrists.

I began to growl and snarl like a wild animal as I kicked at him, all the while, Dylan laughing at my idiocy and the fact that I no longer had any control over him.

I exhausted myself with the effort and like Santiago in the, Old Man and the Sea, crumpled to the floor, worn and beaten, yet still refusing to admit defeat.

“You promise not to hit me if I let you go?” Dylan said, lauding his youth and new found bravery and power over me.

I said nothing.

I glared at him.

A beast ready to snap.

I watched as he walked towards the backdoor, before I shouted, “You will pay for this!”

He chortled with glee as he kicked open the door, kicked it closed behind him, and strutted off to the garage, whistling a little tune of satisfaction that soon faded off into the distance.

That little shit. I thought to myself. I am going to make that mother fucker pay.

And as I sat on the dirty linoleum floor, I quieted my mind and came up with a plan.

A three day plan.

I would lead him to believe I had forgotten all about the upsetting incident.

I would act “as if” and bide my time until I could slap that little bastard but good.

I regained my footing and stood tall; I had lost the first battle but I was certain that I would win this war.

The next few days passed by just as I expected:

Dylan flinched each time I walked by him: sure that I was about to retaliate at any moment positive that I had not given up within the first 24 hours.

I ignored him… busied myself with the tasks at hand.

48 hours later, he was eying me pensively from the corner of the living room: trying to figure out if I had truly forgotten the incident or if this was some type of new defensive tactic.

I folded laundry and once again pretended I hadn’t even noticed him in the room.

He fell for the ploy.

By the third day, I was beyond excited. I couldn’t wait to get home from school and make my son pay.

My anticipation was rabid by the time I pulled up to the curb.

I could hardly contain myself as I ran up the porch and opened the front door.

There he was.

My baby Sasquatch.

My furry Yeti.

He was in the kitchen, large bowl of cereal cupped in one hand, spoon midway to his mouth, crumbs of a cheerio hanging tentatively off of his beard.

“Hey mom,” he said.

His sweetest voice.

His best cherubic face.

But I did not falter in my anger: revenge had gotten the better of me and my “higher spiritual self” had exited our home days ago.

I laid on like I have never laid on before.

My slap hit his chubby pink cheek so hard that his whole giant meat pie of a head sharply snapped at an angle before his eyes rolled back and his mouth fell open.

But still my blow barely made a dent of pain.

He centered his head, and looked at me: his bowl still set neatly in his hand, his spoon still resting mid-air, shocked but for a moment, before he laughed, this beautiful genuine boy of a laugh, and then said, “Good one” as he walked past me and climbed the stairs to his bedroom.

I stood in the kitchen and watched as his giant Fred Flintstone feet disappeared up the stairs.

The moment was bitter sweet.

I felt the relief, the joy of revenge washing over me, the sense that all was right in my world and then the horrible realization that my son was now completely immune to any physical punishment I would ever try to dispense in the future.

Suddenly, I felt old, truly old, until I heard from the top of the stairs, “Damn mom, that really hurt.”

And I smiled, knowing that my son was indeed a good man, I had raised him well.

I knew he wasn’t hurt at all, he was letting me “save face” unwilling to swing away at his mother’s pride.

Recording with Flaco Jimenez and playing with The Texas Tornados

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In the 1990’s when I was signed to my first big recording deal with Hollywood Records, I was fortunate enough to have several of my all-time superstar favorite musicians want to play on my album.

So, when my producer said that Flaco Jimenez from The Texas Tornados loved my song, I Wonder Why, and wanted to add his Tejano accordion stylings on the track, I was all in.

I had never met Flaco, I had only admired his work as a fellow musician and a fan and so… the day that he first came to the studio… I was a bit shy.

Lucky for me… Flaco wasn’t.

In fact… Flaco is FAR from shy. He is actually a giant flirt but in a way that is so sweet and kind he could have basically said the crudest of things to me and I still would have looked at him and smiled like a starstruck school girl: He really is that charming.

He showed up in old polyester grandpa pants and an over-sized sweatshirt. His hair smelled of Tres Flores and he reminded me of all of the men that I had loved growing up: greaser grandpas that worked on cars, had tool sheds with pin-up girl calendars on the wall, and always bought you that coca-cola you weren’t supposed to have right before dinner at the old school liquor store while picking up that cigar that grandma didn’t want him to smoke.

Yep.

For me it was love at first sight and for Flaco… it was love when he had a pretty girl standing next to him singing like a bird while he played along… at least… that’s what he said to me in his charmingly witty way.

We ran through some takes and caught the feel of the music rather quickly and so the PR rep began to take the publicity photos.

Flaco has a very thick Spanish accent and though I could understand most of what he was saying… I was a bit confused when he kept asking me to put my head on his accordion.

I couldn’t figure out why in the hell he would want me to put my head on his accordion but… I figured if a musical great asks you to put your head on his accordion well… then you do it.

I leaned over and laid my head against the keys.

Flaco laughed and pushed my head back up and said, “Your head. Your head!”

I put my head back down and pressed it against the keys again.

“Ay!” he said laughing and then repeated louder. “YOUR HEAD!”

After about five minutes of me putting my head down… Flaco pushing it up… the people standing inside of the control room staring at us and starting to wonder if we were playing some musical blow job game, Julian, my producer, finally pushed the talk back button in the control room and said, “What the hell are you two doing?”

The photographer stood mute… not sure how to handle the situation so he just stared at Julian hoping that his production skills went further than just musical instruction.

Flaco shouted out towards the glass, “I want her to put her HEAD on my instrument for the photographer.”

Julian looked stunned for a moment… not sure if we were moving into some type of creepy sex-for-music scandal before I saw his face light up and he said, “Oh! He wants you to put your HAND on his accordion.”

“Yes!” Flaco laughed and nodded his head, “Come D.D. put your HAND on my instrument.”

I tried not to envision my “hand” on Flaco’s “instrument” as I reached over and pretended to play the keys on the accordion.

Flaco put his hand next to mine, leaned in for a giant hug, and smiled big at the photographer waiting for the flash to snap.

“Jesus,” I heard the photographer mumble under his breath.

“You didn’t understand him either,” I snapped.

“Whaaaaaahhh?” Flaco said.

“Nothing Flaco,” I squeezed his arm and then turned to give the photographer a dirty look. “Everything is fine.”

About a week later, the record company called and said, “Flaco really likes you. The Texas Tornados want you to play a series of shows with them. Are you okay with that?”

Were they kidding?

I was ecstatic.

My family was elated.

And I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to meet the boys.

“Just some local shows,” my manager said. “But we want to get a bit of a buzz going for ya.”

Our first show together was at The Coachhouse and I wanted to bring them all gifts so… I talked to my A&R rep and we gave them each the best of the Disney swag: Solid gold Mickey Mouse watches in special collector cartoon tins. They were super cool gifts and though I was nervous to meet all the guys together, I was excited to give them to the band.

I arrived for sound check, walked up the back stairs of The Coachhouse, and found the guys hanging out in the large Green room.

Augie Meyers definitely looked the scariest. He has that old hard biker thing going and I swear if he had shouted at me I would have stopped and pee’d in fear on the spot. He eyeballed me up and down as he sat on the couch, one leg crossed over the other, arms splayed out over the backside of the couch cushions, as if he were sizing me up and deciding whether or not to like me.

Freddy Fender looked up from re-stringing his guitar and smiled. He had always reminded me of a Latino Jerry Garcia, someone I had never seen as much of a threat, so I smiled back and gave him a bit of a wave.

Doug Sahm, was the funny man of the group… he reminded me of Joe Walsh from The Eagles… always looking for some type of trouble and fun and so he shouted a big “HEY!” before Flaco rushed over and grabbed me.

“This is D.D.” he said to the band, as if he were presenting them with a special gift, and when I saw Augie Meyer’s face light up, I knew that everything was going to be okay. They all stood up to hug me and shake my hand and I felt like I suddenly had my own personal gang of musical bad asses: men who would be more then willing to silence any type of idiotic heckler in the crowd. I knew it was going to be a beautiful series of shows and as I glowed in their presence… I handed them their gifts.

You would have thought that they had never received a present from anyone in their lifetime. They were all overwhelmed with my thoughtfulness and Augie actually bent down and kissed my head, he seemed almost embarrassed to accept his watch but took it out of the case, admired it briefly, before putting it on and preparing to sound check for the show.

That night both our sets went off without a hitch. We played to a sold-out crowd and woke up to stellar reviews. It seriously felt like my life couldn’t get any better and the warm feeling continued until later that night when I watched Freddy Fender giving an interview on television.

He was in the middle of talking about the tour when his microphone kept clinking against something in his pocket.

The metallic sound was so distracting to the interviewer that he actually stopped the interview with Freddy and asked, “What’s going on in your pocket?”

Freddy smiled and pulled out the Disney cartoon watch tin and held it up to the camera. “Oh,” he said, laughing as he opened it wide for the viewers to see. “D.D. Wood gave this to me. I love it. I’m diabetic and I keep all of my insulin needles in this little container. See? It fits them perfectly. Isn’t it a lovely gift?”

I looked at his wrist: no watch.

I looked back at his hand: tin full of needles.

God I hoped people heard the diabetic part and weren’t already sending me hate mail about how I was enabling the habit of “Mr. Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” and basically trying to kill off a living legend.

Jesus.

My husband who was watching the show with me looked over and laughed out loud.

“I love it!” He said with a great big growl and a loud clap of his hands. “Freddy Fender just gave you the best shout out ever.”

I wasn’t so sure about that.

“He liked the tin. He isn’t wearing the watch,” I said with a pout.

“Gimme a break,” my husband said. “Keeping his needles in your tin is way better.”

I gave him a skeptical look.

My next show with The Tornados, I walked up, grabbed Freddy, and pulled the tin from his pocket.

“Really?” I said. “Really? On National television?  You tell people you love the tin and you don’t even wear the watch?”

“What?” He said. “The watch is cool and all but… that little tin is just so perfect for my rigs.”

“Hey this ain’t prison,” I said. “Don’t be getting all drug slang on me.”

He laughed and gave me a big hug, “It’s not like I said you were there with me little girl.”

Flaco came up and hugged me. “I heard you brought your mother to this show may I meet her?”

Freddy actually rolled his eyes.

I could only imagine what was going to happen next but I led Flaco to my mom and watched from the stage, trying to concentrate on my set, as Flaco flirted and laughed with my mother.

I couldn’t stop myself from wondering what it would be like to have Flaco as my step-dad and The Texas Tornados as regular visitors at my household.

I smiled at the thought as I finished my last song and bowed to the crowd.

“He seems to really like your mom,” Augie said from the wings as I unplugged my Fender and walked off the stage.

“Is that a good thing?” I asked.

Augie shook his head and laughed.

Doug walked up behind us and said, “You might need a drink child.” Which was a pretty serious statement from someone very much clean and sober at the time.

But Flaco, was a perfect gentleman. He kissed my mother’s hand at the end of the night and she road home with me charmed as everyone was by Flaco’s attention.

I played several more shows with The Tornados before we parted ways.

Several years later Doug was gone… Freddy was too…. and I think of Augie and Flaco and miss our time together… and in my heart I am so grateful that I had my moment with the Godfathers of Tejano, these Kings of country music.

CBGB’s with Brian May from Queen Resulting in the Worst Hangover of my Life

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You can ask just about anybody.

I don’t drink.

Well, I don’t drink very often.

Maybe once, twice a year.

Seriously.

I believe that years of partying with the “Bad Boys” of the 80’s might have something to do with my lack of interest in drinking today and…

After spending most of my time around recovering alcoholic-addicts, I have a lifetime full of cautionary tales… so I don’t.

But I have to admit… that maybe this night in New York City, with Brian May from Queen, might have had something to do with my decision to give up the “big party” for good.

We were both in town for CMJ: the huge music/publishing festival that takes place annually in New York.

I flew in with my band, Brian was there solo.

But we were both on Hollywood Records and so the president of the record company wanted to take us both out to a schmooz dinner, after we played CBGB’s that night.

Our job was to impress publishers, journalists, radio station owners in hopes that they would find us “down to earth” yet “intelligent and witty” and therefore, want to buy our music or play our music because not only were we talented but heck… we were just damn good people.

Now… I have always been good at schmoozing… it’s just something you have to do when you are playing in “The Show” but deep down inside…. it always made me extremely nervous and super sick to my stomach.

So, when it came time to leave for the big dinner party, my band thought it would be great if I drank a few margaritas and tequila shots with them… just to relax me before the special event.

Well, anyone that has been drinking in New York, knows that the bartenders of the Big Apple really like to make their cocktails strong and so… next thing I knew… I was in a limo, heading to a dinner party… empty stomach… well… now full of booze… and pretty much already bordering on inebriated.

My A&R person was trying to get me to pay attention as she did the run down on who would be there and why it was important to impress them but… I was in a bit of a stupor, looking out the passenger side window, enjoying the street lights, and basically spun out in my own little world.

“D.D.,” she snapped. “This is serious.”

So I gathered myself together and tried to sober myself long enough to at least LOOK interested in what she was saying.

We arrived at the restaurant: Upscale Mexican. Tequila and Margaritas strewn across the table.

This was going to be bad.

My thoughts of getting a coke or a cup of coffee to get myself back on track dissipated.

The record company president handed me a shot and pressed me to down it.

Brian May stood up, towering above me, gave me a giant hug, placed a margarita in my hand and that is basically all I remember.

I have a faint recollection of trying to pull a girl’s ear off her head, believing that she had something stuck in her hair.

And I guess I did actually get up and cross the restaurant to smell Robin Leech, from Lifestyle’s of the Rich and Famous fame because Brian May dared me to do it.

Other than that… my next memory is me on a street corner, outside of CBGB’s talking to a middle aged Italian man in a wife beater, who had a 1980’s Cadillac with a back seat full of hand guns and kept telling me not to worry about anything.

He would take care of me.

“Johnny” would take care of me.

At this time, I knew I was in trouble.

I picked up the pay telephone and called my brother Jack and started to cry.

He could hear  “Johnny” rambling on in his heavy Bronx accent in the background, people outside the club screaming and fighting, and me… having my first breakdown on the road… and he wasn’t sure what to do.

“Where’s your A&R person?” He asked.

“I don’t know,” I sobbed.

“Go back to CBGB’s and get a cab back to your hotel now. Call me when you get there.”

I hung up the phone, told “Johnny” my brother said I had to go now, and so he saluted me with his heavily-clad-in-chunk-gold, pudgy Italian hand, and wished me well on my way.

I did grab a cab.

I did make it back to the hotel.

And when I woke up in the morning, naked in a bathtub full of rusty water in one of the old rooms at the Algonquin… my all time favorite New York hotel… home of the Algonquin Round Table… host to many of my favorite writers and editors: Dorothy Parker, George Kaufman, Harold Ross… I felt like I was going to vomit.

Not only because I was in the beginnings of the WORST hangover of my life but, because I had acted a fool and ended up a physical wreck in my literary place of worship.

I felt like Bukowski was the only writer that might actually applaud me at the moment, raise his glass to me in celebration of last night’s debauchery.

It was horrible.

And when I suddenly came completely to and remembered what I had done… I actually slapped my hand to my forehead and shook my head in disgust… hoping that I might somehow be able to forget the idiot I had been.

Had I actually tried to pull an ear off of a girl’s head?

Had I actually walked over and smelled Robin Leech?

I leaned out of the bathtub, grabbed the edge of the toilet, and vomited.

Ten minutes later the phone rang.

I dragged myself, naked, across the floor, and picked it up to hear Jack, my brother, and Joe, my husband, both screaming at me for scaring the shit out of them.

I guess I never called the house back to tell my brother I had made it safely to the hotel and they had no idea where I was staying until they were able to get hold of one of the record company reps in the morning.

I made my pathetic apologies and hung up.

The phone rang again.

This time it was my A&R rep.

I was ten minutes late for the record signing and press junket for my first album.

“Get your ass in a cab and get down to the Kimmel Center now!”

I had no idea where I was supposed to go but I rushed to get dressed, did everything I could to try and look like I wasn’t a drunken mess the night before, and made it to the Kimmel Center just in time to take some publicity photos with Brian.

Seeing him standing on the red carpet, his arms outstretched ready to pull me in close, a big smile on his face, soft-hearted giant, I felt like I had just been granted an “idiot” reprieve.

I rushed towards him and snuggled close, as he held me tight, and leaned down to whisper in my ear, “I loved that you actually went over and smelled Robin Leech. It was just so great.” and that was the moment that they snapped our photo.

Light bulbs popped off around us, people screamed out our names, questions were fired from all angles, and though I was a bit dazed… overwhelmed from the attention, and sick as a dog from my hell of a night. I made it through.

“Welcome to my world,” Brian said as he squeezed my hand and then sat down next to me at the autograph table where we spent the remainder of the morning visiting with fans, signing our names on cds and posters, and joking about Robin Leech until we both caught the late afternoon flights home out of JFK… me back to Los Angeles and my small home in the suburbs of Long Beach… Brian back to England… to his mansion estate… but both of us forever connected through our mutual love of music, drinking, and Robin Leech.

The True Story of Nico’s Beaver

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Before Barbara Kramer was a famous Rock and Roll star touring the world with her band, Avi Buffalo, she was my student.

If you were to ask any of my former students what they remembered most about my class, their first answer would not be, “Studying Catcher in the Rye” or “Learning about John Adams” but would have something to do with the stories I tell them about my life.

They all loved my stories and over the years, I got into a habit of always starting off my class lesson with a “Story of the Day.”

Today, I was reminded of one of those stories by my friends: Rodney Zaccardo and Steve Hendrix.

No, they are not former students, but Rodney almost became a former friend, when he posted a photo on my Facebook page of a bar of soap titled, “Filthy Beaver” with my name tagged to the beaver.

Steve, smart man that he is, commented with, “I don’t know where to begin…” and I honestly didn’t know how to respond myself.

What the hell was Rodney thinking?

Did he really just call my beaver filthy on Facebook?

Luckily, my friend Margie, who was sitting across the table from me working, looked up from her computer and said, “He’s talking about your beaver. You know.. the one that has it’s own Facebook page. That beaver that travels around the world with the band.”  She then looked back down at her computer again before I heard her laugh and whisper, “Dork.”

I felt like an idiot for not getting the joke.

One phone call and two text messages from Rodney later… I realized he was worried I hadn’t gotten the joke either.

But don’t worry Rodney.

You’re not in trouble.

I get the joke.

The whole thing with the beaver started because of my chihuahua, Nico.

Nico loves to carry around little toys. He has a buzzy bee, two brightly colored wiener dogs, a piece of a stuffed tiger, just one leg, that he refuses to give up, and… a beaver.

These toys are usually scattered all around the house. And Nico, likes to pick one up and then drop it down to pick up another, changing them randomly, as he shows them off to house guests and moves then about, unwilling of course, to share them with any of the other dogs.

Yes… he is a stuffed animal hoarder.

One day when I was getting ready to go teach school, I heard a loud “SLAM”  from the living room and then silence.

I ran out of the hall and looked around but saw nothing but Nico’s beaver on the floor and Nico, standing close to Nana’s lounge chair wagging his tail as he seemed to look off into the backyard.

Now, it was rare to walk into the living room and not find my 84-year-old mother sitting in her blue lounge chair watching TV but, it was even stranger to walk into the living room and find the chair empty AND the room in complete silence:

No Two and a Half Men blasting from Nana’s TV cabinet.

No dogs barking for Nana’s McDonald’s breakfast meal.

Just a beaver lying in the middle of the room and a small chihuahua looking actually, quite suspicious.

Something inside of me told me to call out for my mom and so… I did.

“Mom?”

Immediately I saw my mother’s pudgy little grandma arm waving at me from behind the blue lounge chair.

“I’m over here!” She shouted as I watched her hand flap back and forth more like a windshield wiper than an actual signal of salutation.

“What the hell are you doing over there?” I asked as I hurried towards her and worked to pull her back up.

“Oh,” she said as I righted her and sat her back in her recliner, “I tripped over that damn beaver.”

I looked at the stuffed beaver lying on the floor.

I looked at Nico still wagging his tail, pretending to be the perfect dog in every way.

My mom looked at me as if I was stupid because I hadn’t responded quick enough to what she just said, so she rolled her eyes and snapped, “That thing!” as she pointed at the stuffed lump on the floor. “Nico’s beaver!”

For a moment, my mind went to one of those weird places… a place where it associates words with a specific period of time, a place where random images collide with random events… a place where you really don’t want your mind to go and suddenly… I pictured my mom tripping over a giant 70’s porno bush: Nico’s beaver.

I could see it vividly.

The giant vagina somehow detached and misplaced in our living room…

My mom, shaking her head in exasperation as if she knew it had been there all along hiding in the tri-colored shag carpet…

And somehow… she had just forgotten about it while worrying about other 70’s calamities such as my dad’s polyester pants or Dr. John’s latest hit: Right Place Wrong Time.

I couldn’t stop laughing.

I was trying to shake this horrific image out of my mind.

You never EVER want to put “Mom” and “porno” in the same thought box or even in the same paragraph for that matter, and the thought of the ridiculousness of what I was invisioning only made the whole situation worse.

Finally, my mother became totally annoyed with me and said, “I’m fine now. Just go to school. It’s not that funny you know.” Which made me laugh all the harder as I left the house and drove over to my classroom.

When I told the kids my “Story of the Day” of course I had to share Nico’s Beaver.

Everyone was in hysterics except for Barbara Kramer who seemed to be skeptical. Her eyes narrowed as she ran her tongue over her braces, before saying, “Is there really a Nico’s beaver?” with a smack of her lips.

The entire class paused.

They had never even considered the idea that I might be lying, that I might actually just make all of this shit up like a comedy routine I was trying out on unsuspecting English classes.

They all turned to me, begging for confirmation that I was telling the truth, and so, I gave Babs my best, “I’m so disgusted with your question face” before I said, “Yes Barbara, of course Nico has a beaver. Why would I make that up?”

She continued to look at me as if I was a fraud but by then, the rest of the class was convinced I was definitely telling stories in the genre of “non-fiction” and so we moved on for the day.

Weeks later, Barbara came to my house to play with my son Dylan. They were both in a band called “Return to Radio” and  practice would take place regularly at our house.

Babs walked inside and met my mom.

“Hi Nana,” she said as she waved to her.

“Oh, hi honey!” My mom waved back.

And then Nico ran up to Babs: growling and wagging, fussing and barking.

She stared at him, as if he somehow had the answer to her question regarding my authenticity as a story teller.

Was I a true raconteur? Or… was I a cheap side-show sham?

I knew what I had to do.

“Nico,” I said. “Go get your beaver! Go get your beaver!”

Nico shot off across the living room floor as if he was in a dog show and knew he was about to win first place for performing this trick.

We watched as he rooted about in his little doggy bed of toys and then plucked his favorite worn brown and beaten beaver out of the batch and rushed back to show it proudly to Babs.

Her face radiated bemusement. She couldn’t contain her glee.

She looked at me as if I was the Holy Grail of Honest Teachers before reaching down and taking the beaver from Nico’s mouth.

“Nico’s beaver,” Babs whispered and the rest, is history.

Babs joined Avi Buffalo. She began to tour the world, and she took Nico’s beaver with her… photos of him appeared with Ben Stein and on ampitheater stages in Canada, Europe, and everywhere in between.

He became legendary, that beaver, and I think Babs loved him. I think that beaver kept her grounded as she learned the world of music first hand… on stage…. and that beaver… always represented love, truth, family, and home.

Anthony Kiedis Asks Me to Brush and Braid His Hair Resulting in a Shouting Match and Mark Johnson as a Naughty Go-Between

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Before the Red Hot Chili Peppers became Rock and Roll namesakes they were just a bunch of goofy guys, playing music and hoping to reach the big brass ring of Super Stardom like everyone else in our music scene.

In the mid-1980’s they were touring with T.S.O.L. and Fishbone and since I was dating the lead singer of T.S.O.L., the man that later became my husband, I was at the show.

I have never been that smitten or taken with rock stars… growing up around “band boys” you are privy to a decent amount of information that takes away the glitter and the glamour of the stage and brings the “fantasy” down to earth…. trust me…. when you watch many of your family members and good friends throwing their talent away on drug and alcohol addiction… the fun goes right out the window.

But at this time, we were all still young and beautiful, still having fun in our world of music and mayhem, and not really concerned much with the future. Most of the players in our group were “interchangeable” which is a really nice way of saying there was a lot of inner circle incestuous dating going on… and because of this… people often kept an “eye” on their significant others for fear that they might pop off with someone much more interesting in a different band at a moment’s notice.

I’ve often actually thought… that these guys weren’t even really that concerned about the person they were “with” … as much as they were worried that the person would leave them for a guy in a band that they considered “better” or “more popular” because there is a a fair amount of EGO dominating this rock world.

I had just walked into the club that evening, and watched as Anthony made a b-line towards me, hair brush in his hand, rubber band around his wrist.
“D.D.?” he asked in his little boy voice, “Would you please brush and braid my hair for the show tonight?”
Now, Anthony is actually three years older than me but I swear he looked like he was about fifteen at the time and tended to act about the same age.

I rolled my eyes, grabbed the hairbrush and the rubber band, and sat down at the bar table to brush his hair.

“You really can’t do this yourself Anthony?” I asked.

He turned his back towards me, stepped backwards until my legs were straddled around him, placed his hands on my knees and said, “No, you brush it.”

Once again I felt my eyes roll as I began to brush his hair. I already had Lex, my youngest child by this time, and so I brushed his hair as if I was brushing my daughter’s hair on a day she was really frustrating me.

“Ow,” he said in a baby voice. “Too hard.”

I fought the urge to hit him on the top of his head with the hairbrush… but I didn’t… I just continued on with my task.

Now there is something soothing, often mesmerizing about brushing long hair and soon we were both quiet as I worked gently separating his strands into three individual groups of hair before twisting them into a long neat braid. I put my hand over the braid and ran my fingers down it from top to bottom, the last touch in the process, making sure that it was smooth and hung straight.

“There,” I said. “All done.”

Anthony turned around, his hands resting gently on my hips as we now looked at each other face-to-face, his body still straddled between my legs, smiling his goofy smile and about to get all flirty with me when my X walked into the club.

It was one of those horrible moments that you can’t explain.

Seriously.

How do you explain how Anthony Kiedis got between your legs?

How do you explain your arm wrapped around his shoulders, holding the braid hanging down his back?

How do you explain Anthony staring at you like you’re a giant ice cream cone and he just wants a taste of it?

You don’t I tell you.

What you do is you push Anthony Kiedis away as roughly as you possibly can before you stand up from the bar stool, and pull your teeny tiny mini skirt down to cover your legs hoping that the five extra inches of black spandex will somehow make you look “virginal,” and watch as your current man storms towards you, hate in his eyes, and you pray that Anthony doesn’t die before set time.

“What the FUCK Anthony?” my X screamed at him.

My X is a big, burly handsome man…. often confused with the Devil… gold eyes, jet black hair, skull tattoos and Anthony backed away with his hands up.

“Hey —,” he said to my X trying to calm the situation down by playing the cool friendship card, “I didn’t know D.D. was your girl.”

And once again I felt my eyes rolling in my head. Everyone knew I was with X… Anthony’s lame excuse was not going to save him from a massacre.

My X was pressing the issue, leaned over, pounding his finger against Anthony’s chest. Every imaginable cuss word being used in the most creative way as it spewed forth from his mouth at an astonishing rate.

I was looking around for ANYONE to come to my rescue, stop them both before they were a bloody mess, and that’s when Mark Johnson appeared on the scene.

Mark Johnson… one of the sweetest, kindest guys you could ever want to know and today, if I had been a smart woman… I would have spent more time hanging out with him but I was too often seduced by the dramatic dysfunction of the scene.

Mark got in between them, calmed my X down, and lead Anthony away upstairs where he was going to hang out in the Green Room until set time.

I spent the next 30 minutes trying to explain to my X that what had just happened was totally innocent but… no luck… he ended up storming off to the bar for a big shot of Ten High as I sat back down at the table… the now “infamous” table where I had illicitly brushed and braided Anthony’s hair, put my hands over my eyes and just shook my head back and forth for a minute, disgusted with the total comedy of errors that had just transpired before me.

I felt like I was wearing a LARGE SCARLET LETTER and I couldn’t help but think to myself that maybe I should just go home now and call it a night. I had a feeling that the fight might ratchet back up after hours if me, Anthony and X were all in the same room and both of the boys were stoned or drunk.

Just then, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and almost afraid to look up, I raised my gaze and was relieved to be looking into the smiling face of Mark Johnson.

“Anthony asked me to give you this,” he said.

I opened the small folded white piece of notebook paper that he had held out to me and read the word, “Hi” with a child-like smiley face drawn next to it.

I looked up at Mark, and then looked back at the note.

“Are you serious?” I asked before rising from the table and grabbing my purse and walking away.

“What do you want me to tell him?” Mark shouted after me.

“That I’m going home,” I said.

“Home?” Mark Johnson said, his voice full of amusement and surprise that I was turning the “little man” down.

“Home,” I said and headed for the door.

I strutted past the bar where I saw my X happily settled in; surrounded by friends and fans, smoke in one hand, bottle of Ten High in the other, and gave one last look back at Mark who waved sweetly before he headed off to the Green Room to disappoint Anthony with my response.

I almost broke into a jog, dying to climb into my old 63′ Buick and race for the safety of home.

“You back already?” My mom said as I came into the house.

I watched as Lexi climbed off her Nana’s lap and rushed towards me.

“Boy drama,” I said to my mom as I grabbed Lex and scooped her up into my arms.

“Oh those boys,” Nana said, “Just like your father was in high school. Pachucos on parade.”

I tried not to smile but I couldn’t help it… she was so right… Pachucos on parade.

I carried Lex into her bedroom, kicked off my heels, climbed up onto the bed with her to read “Pat the Bunny” and left the Pachucos behind me.