Getting in a Fight with Stephen, Somewhere in Kansas in Front of a Kentucky Fried Chicken, While on a Cross-Country Road Trip

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me and stephen 64

I had been married to my X for almost twenty years and NEVER took him on a road trip.

Never.

The idea of bringing a man on a road trip seemed absolutely ridiculous to me.

My road trips were private matters.

I wanted to be completely alone.

If I wanted to listen to music… I did.

If I wanted it completely silent in the car for hours on end… it was.

This was my NO MAN’s land.

My best story ideas, song ideas, and big thoughts on life and spiritual matters came to me on my road trips.

Highway 10 from Long Beach to Santa Fe New Mexico… alone… silent… could solve a host of problems that couldn’t be solved by thinking about them at home.

And so… it was with great reluctance that I allowed Stephen to join me.

Stephen… summer of 2007… one year into our friendship.

And how… you must be wondering… did I allow myself to cave?

Well…he said, “I’ve never been on a road trip before.”

“Never?” I said. “Not even with your guy friends?”

“Nope,” and then his shoulders slumped and he made a little sad face. “Never.”

And since I cared for Stephen… and knew the value of a good road trip in a person’s life… my heart felt for him and so I invited  him to come along.

Of course, once I invited him… I immediately started saying things to get him to back out. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to let someone in… be close… give up my private experience.

“You know…” I told him. “I do what I want on the road. I don’t set a destination. I don’t go to any specific location. I drive as long as I want… I sleep in small motels in off beat towns. And I’ve NEVER taken a man with me before,” I paused here for emphasis. “Do you understand what I’m saying?”

He nodded his head… excited to be invited on a road trip and I knew this would be a turning point in our friendship… we would either survive this road trip together and be bonded for life, or we would burn out somewhere close to Albuquerque with Stephen shouting at me to “STOP THE CAR” before kicking the door shut, flipping me off, and hitching a ride to the closest airport where he would fly home, never to be seen again… Maybe even silently “wishing me the best” (the ultimate fuck you really) before boarding a plane and drinking as many cocktails allowed on the two and a half hour flight home to Los Angeles while praying that I would die in a fiery car crash somewhere outside of Nashville.

I sighed.

Weeks went by and Stephen excitedly planned for his big adventure. I saw him programming a GPS and I actually started to sweat. I NEVER used a GPS… that was cheating… I felt anxious… but I sucked it up each time I saw him pore over a map… his reading glasses high on his face… his eyes looming large… magnified through the glass as he fantasized about all of his future destinations and scribbled furiously… little notes and words in his mini notebook.

“What’s that?” I asked one day.

“I’m preparing,” he said with pure glee.

I looked at him as if he were a bad student in my class. “Don’t,” I said sternly, my face stone. “Just stop.”

He looked at me as if I was speaking some foreign language it almost seemed he was ignoring me…. before he went back to poring over his maps and scribbling furiously.

This is a mistake I thought. We’re going to be in a fight before we even get out of L.A. county.

But I held my tongue, shocking I know, but I did and when the day arrived for us to leave, Stephen was prepared.

It looked like I had the ultimate Boy Scout ready to set off with me… wait, strike that, let’s make him an Eagle Scout.

I have never seen anyone so organized for a trip. He even had his passport in case we decided to cross a border.

Jesus.

We left Long Beach at 4 am, stopped at a drive-thru Starbucks for coffee and were on the road and on our way to Maine.

California to Maine…. one of the best drives ever…

There is nothing like watching the sun come up from the highway. It is one of my all time favorite moments in life.

Me.

The car.

The road.

Complete silence as the skyline goes from jet black to a purple opaque with a hint of orange, before the sun bursts into bright yellow streaks and illuminates the blue sky.

Only… that’s not what happened.

What happened was TOOL was blasting from the speakers as Stephen bobbed his head to the music, tapped his foot against the dash, drank his coffee with gusto and I sat in silence, big headed baby, pouting… as I drove the car.

I was miffed. Distraught. But Stephen was so pleased to be on a road trip… I kept quiet.

I headed for highway 70… it is a beautiful path… not stark beauty like the 10… which is actually quite a lonely road… the 70 is America in all of it’s patch work glory.

Coming over the pass into Colorado… the river running along side it… boxed in by mountains… until you rise again and see the Great Plains laid out before you… it is a drive that makes the traveler a hopeless romantic.

And Stephen said, “I thought you were taking the 10?”

I tried not to make a face.

“I’ve programmed my GPS for the 10,” he said in a pitiful whine of a voice.

“Well,” I said. “Unprogram.”

I could see that he was bent.

Perturbed.

Annoyed.

And I thought… don’t you dare… don’t you dare…. who are you to be any of those things on my road trip?

We drove all the way to Vegas without a word… Stephen heavy metal thumping while I looked out the window and prayed for the audio system to fail.

By the time we hit the plateau above Grand Valley, Colorado… I wasn’t sure if we would make it through the next two weeks but then the road opened up, the view down was amazing, and Stephen turned off the music which left Colorado ahead of us, and a quiet car to take in the beauty.

The rest of the day was really uneventful… as was the next…. we discovered a common love of SIRIUS’s stand up comedy channel and laughed all the way to Kansas where things then took a turn for the worse.

We were tired from driving… hours and hours of travel… when we finally started looking for a hotel room around 10 o’clock at night.

This is when we heard two words that I never imagined could be so dreaded:

State Fair.

“What?” I asked.

Then there were three dreaded words:

Kansas State Fair.

Shit.

Every hotel within 100 miles of the Kansas State Fair was booked solid and Stephen and I were beyond exhausted.

It was the first time ever I felt myself falling asleep at the wheel. In fact, Stephen had already flopped over into the back seat and passed out. I was glad that he was quiet and resting but still totally annoyed that he was at that moment… no help.

I prayed that I would make it to a hotel before I nodded off and lost control of the car and thankfully, around mile 83, there was one room left available at a Best Western.

We pulled in, checked in, and passed out in a matter of minutes.

The next morning, I was “hungover” from such a long day of driving the day before, that I didn’t want to get up… but… Stephen wanted to get moving.

“Get up,” he said. “Come on get up.”

I was tired, angry that he was bossing me about, and pouting because I knew that if HE hadn’t been in the car with me… I would have found a hotel easily, I wouldn’t be getting up early right now, I would be following my OWN time frame and completely ALONE. I climbed out of the bed in a big baby fit threw on my clothes and shoes and reached to grab the keys and stomp to the car when Stephen reached out and grabbed them.

“I’m driving,” he said.

I gave him a look…. ready to kill him, but he just turned and walked out of the room and headed to the car… unwilling to give me my way.

I climbed into the passenger seat, slammed the door and sulked. We weren’t even out of the parking lot when I said, “Go through the KFC so at least we can get something to eat.”

Stephen rounded the corner for the drive-thru and thought for some reason that the lane he was in was not for the drive-up window.

“It is!” I shouted. “Trust me. Just go right there!” I pointed towards a loud speaker and watched as Stephen ignored me, passed the window and made a loop around the front of the KFC.

“No,” he said calmly. “I’m sure that was the wrong lane.”

I felt anger seething out of every pore… I set my jaw so firmly that it must have looked like it was wired shut and believe me… in just a matter of minutes… I was going to wish it had been wired shut…

Just as Stephen was making the turn to go back through the lane I originally told him to, a large white bus full of black Baptists rolled in front of us and I watched as the Minister ordered 15 buckets of chicken, obviously for his entire congregation, who I could see through the large rectangular glass bus windows… smiling and happy, seriously spiritually enlightened people, radiating  God’s joy as they waited patiently for their chicken and I actually went insane.

I don’t even remember what I said to Stephen, but it was every angry thing you say to someone when you “kick the cat”….

Why did I bring you?

What were you thinking?

Why couldn’t you listen to me?

Who the HELL do you think you are?

LOOK AT ALL OF THOSE GOD DAMN BAPTISTS EATING MY CHICKEN!

By the time we got to the window… I was spent… which often happens with us passionate HOT HEADS leaving our quiet introverted family, friends, and lovers, totally stunned by our outbursts and often feeling

MORTALLY wounded while we HOT HEADS just move on to the next big thing to be passionate and upset about…

Stephen however had, had enough.

He pulled up to the window to pay the KFC kid and wait for our chicken while I, now calm… said, “Could you please open the trunk so I can get something out of my bag?”

“Just wait,” he said… his tone one of intense loathing…

“Wait for what?” I snapped and popped out of the car and headed to the back of the trunk.

Stephen, by now, so TOTALLY pissed off at me took one look in the rear view mirror and floored the car. The wheels screeched as he took off and then laid a big skid and stopped about twenty feet from the window.

My mouth dropped open as I watched my door fly shut as he burned out… but the funniest moment was when I looked back at the drive-thru window and saw that the KFC kid had hung the food bag out for Stephen to grab right as he pulled away… so the teenager’s arm was just dangling out the window with a big bag of KFC floating in mid-air waiting for no one to take it.

I paused a moment… I really wanted to laugh but I was still just too angry.

I walked over and grabbed the bag from the kid, walked up to the car, opened the door and climbed inside where I threw the bag of chicken on the floor and shouted, “I’m not even hungry any more.”

Stephen could have given a shit. He burnt out and hit the Interstate at an alarming pace. Probably anxious to find the nearest airport and fulfill my earlier prophecy.

We both stewed in silent obstinance across the entire great state of Kansas before we finally just busted up laughing hysterically… barely able to breath… tears streaming down our faces, as we crossed the border into Ohio where I then picked up the bag, pulled a cold, hard biscuit from it, and handed it to Stephen as a peace offering.

It was the only fight we got in during the entire two weeks on the trip and I believe that it really was necessary for our bonding experience and that the event brought us closer together.

After that, we went on to see thousands of wild geese land on a secluded lake somewhere in Ohio, scare ourselves to death sleeping in Lizzie Borden’s house in Fall Rivers Massachusetts, nap on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s lawn in Salem, and drive through the Bad Lands of South Dakota on our return trip, a place Stephen had never been, and was so thankful to see… the desert at dusk, the look of the sand and the cliffs, so alien and mystical… really something everyone should experience in a lifetime.

I will never regret that fight at the KFC… or letting someone in, and sharing my road trip.

What I find as I grow older, is that staying and building relationships, even when at times you want to run away… desert all… find security and safety in yourself… believing that it will be easier… somehow protect you from hurt… or build a wall so that people can’t get in…

Only makes you the person who is UNWILLING to take the road trip… to see what lays before you… what discoveries are out there to find… what common interests, ideas, spiritual moments you can share, even if it is only a ridiculously stupid fight behind a bus load of black Baptists somewhere in Kansas….

The beauty.. is in the shared story… our shared story…

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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

Peeing Out the Window of Karen Smith’s Car

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peeing statues

In high school, I was notorious:

Always up for a dare.

Always up for a brawl.

Ditch a class? Steal a car?

Sure… why not.

I was bored.

Diabolical.

A punk rock gangster trapped in the “gifted”  program with a bunch of other Mensa maniacs.

But I swear… there was one girl that I HATED to stand up to and that was my friend; Karen Smith.

It was no surprise that Karen and I became friends: she was street-smart, a brawler, a trouble-maker, a punk rock All-American beauty.

Captain of the Girl’s Swim Team.

On the record board for her stellar backstroke time (a record that actually stood well into the 90’s).

Great at just about everything.

She had giant shoulders, a big blonde high school Rosie the Riveter.

When a girl tried to stand up to Karen, she knocked them down without a second thought.

She looked so sweet: her big blue eyes, her tanned skin, sprinkle of freckles across her nose and then she laid them out: A cherubic angel with a bad ass right hook.

It was terrifying.

I never got into it with Karen.

Smart enough to make her think I wouldn’t fold.

Smart enough to always play it cool.

And although she was more brawn than brain, she knew enough to know that she shouldn’t underestimate my abilities as a worthy adversary…

I stayed a bit standoffish… and acted worldly… as we formed a bond of understanding and silent admiration that was dusted with a fine layer of mutal fear.

She would push me every once in awhile, usually to beat someone up for some ridiculous reason:

She stepped on your shoe… beat the shit out of her.

Or…

You gonna let her walk in front of you like that? Punch her in the back of the neck.

I got in the habit of rolling my eyes, shaking my head, acting as if I was way too cool to waste my time on something so trivial but I knew there would be a moment when I would have to stand up or she would see it as a weakness and might use it to take me down from an equal to a follower.

I had no idea at that time, that I would win the war by peeing out of her car window.

We were driving home from a gig one night: Karen and me, driver and shotgun, and three other girls wedged tightly into the back seat of her small fastback puke green Datsun.

We were a bit giddy really… stoked that our horrific fake ID’s had served us well once again and got us into a 21 and over show for The Damned, one of our all-time favorite bands.

We were full of stories about our night out… laughing, happy, ready to make it to the closest Naugles for a late night order of greasy nachos.

Karen was driving like a maniac down the empty street, probably trying to scare us all with her wicked show of speed, when I asked her to pull over so that I could go pee.

“I’m not stopping,” she said as she flipped a glare at me and accelerated the car.

“Karen, come on,” I laughed. “It’s still like fifteen minutes to Naugles. Pull over so I can go pee.”

She accelerated again.

“You have to pee so fucking bad,” she said. “Then hang your ass out of the window and go.”

The girls in the backseat stopped giggling.

The car grew silent.

Anyone with half a brain could see there was a brawl about to go down.

If I gave in… pathetically sitting in the car with my legs crossed… waiting to go to the bathroom… Karen would win.

I would be nothing more to her than one of her other flunkies currently sitting in the backseat.

And so… I did what I had to do: I took her dare, rolled down the window, lifted up my skirt, pulled down my panties, and hung my bare white ass out of the car.

I heard the girls cackling at me from the backseat… sure that Karen had just thought up the best way to humiliate me and anxious to show their loyalty as minions in her army.

Little did they know… none of them would be laughing for long.

I felt the ice cold wind blow against my naked butt cheeks and thought for a moment that I wouldn’t be able to make myself go… but then I adjusted to the night air, and felt the urgency to urinate return with a vengeance.

I smiled a sinister smile at Karen who was looking smug in her warm driver’s seat as she tapped the gas and the brake intermittently to see if she could shake my concentration or scare me into giving up.

It didn’t work.

I knew then that all of my years in the gifted program were about to pay off.

That today…. brain would really win out over brawn and that this would be a lesson Karen would never forget.

I released my bladder completely and watched as the aerodynamic lift of the wind blew the hot stream of urine back into the window and throughout the entire car, saturating all of the girls in the back seat whose giggles soon turned to screams of disgust, hands over their faces, knees pulled up to their chests, as they begged me to stop peeing on them.

I giggled as I continued my work… happy from my little perch on the window’s edge.

I watched, as they became drenched in it and Karen’s face change from one of smug self-righteousness to one of total shock: stunned that she had been stupid enough to set up her adversary for a chance at her total public annihilation.

She raced to roll down the driver’s side window in hopes that she could beat the speed of the urine.

I looked at her and laughed with glee, still peeing away.

She cranked that window as if she was trying to complete a 50 meter butterfly in under 20 seconds.

It was beautiful to behold.

I watched as my urine exited the car, out the other side, but not before a brilliant splash of gold nipped at Karen’s cheek.

It was just enough for me to see… not enough for the toadies in the backseat to witness… but Karen glanced over at me… worried that I had caught the humiliating moment from my perch and I had.

I smiled at her with a steely knowing grin… it was enough of a “look” to let her know she had been conquered.

It was up to me now to decide if I would push my hand… make her pay… demean her in front of the others.

I took my time.

I finished peeing and waited a moment longer as the wind dried my ass before pulling up my panties, pulling down my skirt, and dropping back down into the passenger seat.

I turned up the tape player and listened as The Damned’s “Smash It Up” blasted through the car.

I hummed along to the words enjoying the moans of disgust from the backseat and Karen’s total silence as she continued on to the Naugle’s hoping that I wouldn’t rat her out.

I let her sweat it all the way there.

We were just about to order from the drive-thru when I watched Karen break.

“That was fucking funny,” she said. “You guys are so bummed. I’m so glad I was in the front seat. Right D.D.?”

I looked at her… she looked at me… the pause was immense in it’s intensity…

If I outed her now… it would mean full scale war.

If I let her keep this bit of power… I would always have a hardcore brawler as my second-in-command.

“Yep,” I said, big smile on my face. “bumming.”

We ordered our food.

The girls in the back clamoring for extra napkins at the drive-thru window, Karen gabbing away excitedly as she told the story for the rest of the ride home… again and again, and me now smug in my own self-righteousness, blissfully content and urine free.

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.

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.