Before finding out I was going to France and getting in to Antioch, I bought two tickets. One for the Hollywood Stones in Redondo Beach, and the other for the Doors in Anaheim.
Mid-April was the Stones (my Rolling Stones cover band). Abe accompanied me and I arrived in a vintage purple print dress with a fake pearl wrap around bracelet.
When we arrived, The Who cover band was playing. The Who Revue. And the lead guitarist was my buddy faux-Keith Richards back at the Queen Mary on St. Patty’s Day.
Me, “I think thats Keith playing lead on this band too.”
When I walked to the bathroom, I crossed close to the stage to catch a look. The Guitarist looked up and did a quick double take. Then his eyes got wide.
I felt the skin under my eyes roll into a slow grin.
He recognized me. It is definitely the same guy.
When the Stones came on, I was out there with a few shuffle step middle-agers and an old hippie in a cowboy hat dancing like he was having the best acid trip of his life.
I kept trying to dance, Abe tried to dance with me but I never expect anyone to dance with me. I am in my own world.
At first, Abe kept trying to turn me so my back was facing the band. I told him, “I paid to see the band, I would like to SEE the band.”
Then he said, “I don’t think the band likes that I am here with you.”
I said, “Come on! They are all married.”
Abe would step back into the shadows and I let loose- doing my typical full energy, bouncing, singing thing. I was overshadowed by Acid Trip, but thats ok.
One woman, sipping a drink in a girl cluster by the stage, looked at me with a skeptical frown. I smiled so big and genuinely, I melted her. The joy, my friends, THE JOY!
I can’t even tell you how satisfying it is dancing to the live saxophone in “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’”.
I turned around and saw Abe was gone. A woman tapped my shoulder and said, “I think I upset your boyfriend.”
I said, “Oh, what did you say?”
She said, “I told him he should dance with you.”
I shrugged my shoulders, looked for him and then decided to let the music take me back since my lover wouldn’t.
He came back, two songs later and said he didn’t want to dance.
I said, “Fine, just stand here, but don’t wander off again.”
He said, “You know what that woman said to me?”
I said, “She told me she said you should dance.”
He said, “No, she said, ‘Is that your girlfriend?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ Then she said, ‘Better step it up.’ Just like that, ‘Better step it up.’”
I said, “She was just teasing you, relax. She wanted you to dance.”
Abe said, “Well, I don’t dance.”
I said, “Fine. I don’t care. I just really need to dance right now.”
Abe said, “I just don’t see the point in fucking the air.”
Me, “Is that how I look?”
Me, “Are you saying that’s how I look?”
Abe, “I just don’t like it.”
I stopped dancing and crossed my arms. There were only 15 people on the dance floor, so I knew the band saw me stop. This was ridiculous, Nervous Nelly was going to make ME feel bad about dancing. I left to get a shot of tequila.
Then I came back and danced to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
The singer’s eyes met me and I lost the lyrics. I wasn’t on point. I was drunk and slightly sloppy. But his eyes smiled and turned away.
Abe stood there, with his hands out, counting down the minutes until the uncomfortable night would pass.
The Band came back for an encore doing . . . “Midnight Rambler” . . . coincidence that I begged for it at the last show? Who knows?
I put my hands on Abe’s shoulders and jumped up and down screaming in Beatle-Mania. Someone handed the lead singer a belt and with the slow, sexy harmonica- I did indeed fuck the air. Damn it, it was so good.
The stage went dark and the DJ said, “Hang out by the bar to meet the band.”
Then he put on “When the Music’s Over.”
The dance floor was empty, except for Abe with his palms out to steady me. I had to keep going:
For the music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your only friend
Until the end
Its a 10 minute song with lots of strange lyrics like:
Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection
Send my credentials to the House of Detention
I got some friends inside
The face in the mirror won’t stop
The girl in the window won’t drop
A feast of friends
“Alive!” she cried
Waitin’ for me
I know it all, better than any Stones song. I kept going. I hit every lyric, every note, and my whole body moved like I was possessed.
I heard Acid Trip cheering me from a nearby bar stool. People were watching.
And right as the last note pounded from my rubber sole into the dirty floor. The DJ put on “Crystal Ship”. I heard an applause. Was that for me? Little old me?
I slow danced with Abe. He said, “Baby, they are closing. We have to go.”
The Security Guard approached me and said, “Bar is closed. Everyone has to leave.”
I turned to him and said, “I am sorry, as long as there is Doors music playing, I can’t leave.”
He walked away, and I swayed and sang the dark romantic poem. Then “People Are Strange.”
I jumped back to life, singing and dancing.
Abe said, “He is playing these for you. Just because you keep dancing.”
I said, “I know, isn’t it great!?”
Then, “Strange Days” . . . I started spinning.
The Security Guard said, “You have to leave now. The bar is closed. Please.”
Abe grabbed my coat and swung it over my shoulders as he walked me out. I sang on my escort out, and looked at the DJ from the booth to sing to him. He blushed and looked down.
We got outside and the saltwater from the beach stung my cheeks.
Abe said, “We had to leave because everyone kept watching you. They couldn’t clear the bar until you stopped dancing.”
I said, “Wasn’t that magical? Doors after Stones.”
Abe said, “Its like you go into a trance when you dance. You were almost near tears when I dragged you out.”
I said, “I was? Maybe I was a little emotional, but near tears?”
Abe said, “The band loved you. Let’s go home.”
Me, “But they are playing the Doors.”
Abe, “He stopped the music as soon as you left.”
“Really?” I kicked the air outside and whined, “Ughhh, it was so good. I want more.”
Abe ushered me to the car like a parent, “No more tonight. The band is gone now.”
On my day off, I was making rounds to my closest friends.
Mr. On the Right, my good friend, got us lunch at the Veggie Grille. We talked about families, kids, trying to have a career as a grown man and make it as an actor. I felt more relaxed around him than I remember. Maybe because he is in domestic bliss now with his sweetheart. His voice is softer.
Lana and I decided to meet at Native Foods in Culver City.
I ordered a cupcake and a glass of wine since I just enjoyed a very large vegan lunch with on the Right. Lana was late. She is always late.
When she walked in, she gave me a bear hug. She was in a blue sweat suit and was showing a little at 15 weeks.
She stopped in front of the counter with her feet slightly apart and said, “I’m starving. I have to pee first.”
She came back and ordered vegan chicken fingers, and as she plunged each one into BBQ sauce, she spoke about her new endeavor as a Mommy.
Lana, “When he first said he wanted kids, I was like ‘ . . . awww’. Then I found out I was pregnant and I was like, ‘I change my mind! I change my mind!
I feel like I am coming out of this fog. The first trimester was just a fog. I was nauseous the whole time. I would feel better around 6pm and finally set foot out of the bedroom then be like, ‘Ok, almost ready to go to bed now.”
Me, “Are you doing natural childbirth?”
Lana (dip, eat), “I don’t know.”
Lana (chew), “I don’t know.”
Me, “What about names?”
Lana, “I really haven’t thought about anything. I just feel like I am getting my mind back. It really is that bad.”
Me, “How are the mothers dealing with it? The matriarchs?”
Lana, “I went back home and my Mom was so nice to me, it was weird. She sat me down and said, (sweet imitation of a modern Doris Day) ‘Whatever you want to eat, I will make?’
I said, ‘You will make it? Since when do you make food?’
She said, ‘I just Google the recipe.’
I said, ‘Since when do you google recipes?”
I laughed, then said, “What about the mother-in-law?”
Lana, “Well, she is a nurse so she keeps sending me pamphlets on how crack and marijuana hurt the fetus. And I am like, ‘I don’t use crack or smoke marijuana . . . but thank you!
She had a rough time. A while ago, she had to get a cyst removed out of her uterus. When they opened her up, they found out her uterus was full of cysts. So they called her husband and said, ‘Either we can wake her up and ask her permission to remove the entire uterus or you can give us verbal permission now and we can take care of it immediately, while she is still out.
Her husband said, ‘I don’t want to put her through all of that, just take the whole thing out.’
That was the beginning of the end. It was really hard for her because she was trying to have kids at the time. And to wake up with no uterus, she was livid.
The cysts were because her mother took this certain kind of medication while she was pregnant with her, so she warned her sister and she did had the same problem, but they caught it in time with her.
All these years, she has been telling her family, ‘Your father took my uterus. Your father took away my chance to have more children.’ Her, now, ex-husband came around and said, ‘Ok, we have to set things straight. This is what really happened.’
He didn’t want the story to keep going, he just wanted the get the record straight.
So obviously she is weird.
But, yeah . . . let’s talk about you.”
With Lana, I always feel a little inarticulate and flustered. I stared at her face, it was growing rounder, and admired all those brown freckles on her chocolate skin. The wine in my mouth made me grow dry and I tried telling her stories, losing place, losing eye contact and often slipping into a mumbly monologue.
Sometimes she laughed. Sometimes she didn’t.
If I were a man, I would fall in love with her. She is the only woman I have felt 100% certain of that.
She was unemployed and her husband doesn’t have insurance, but he has a decent job. And she didn’t seem worried.
Outside, during our goodbye, she smiled and said, “It will all work out. I am thinking of going up to San Francisco to see a friend, cause . . . why not?”
I said, “You should. I always remember you telling me, you have to spend money, to make room for more money. So we would treat ourselves to a martini because we wanted to be the type of people who can afford a martini.”
She said, “That’s right. I still believe that.”
And I continued, “You should go now, before your third term. And when the baby comes, you won’t have any time.”
Lana said, “Shit’s getting real now. Shit’s gettin’ REAL.”
I said, “I know you will be busy with the baby when I come back down, but maybe I can take you out for a drink and a cigarette. HA!”
Lana said, “Busy? Are you kidding me? I am going to be at home. When you show up, I will say, ‘Baby’s asleep. We got 20 minutes. Let’s drink!”
We laughed, and hugged. She is just so beautiful.
After Lana, I swung by Venice Beach to meet my friend Jerry, who was going to help me plan my Paris trip.
Jerry had his laptop hooked up to his big screen TV and showed me a map of Paris through Google Maps. It was surreal how crystal clear those images were on the screen.
We talked about museums, and Versailles and graves and food. I stretched out on the ground as he made a list of everything I wanted to see, what bus line I could use and any tips he had.
He gave me a travel bag with a wire foundation, so pick pockets couldn’t slice off my strap or the underside of my bag. He also gave me his camera.
The generosity from my friends those final weeks in Los Angeles impressed me. It’s the stuff that keeps your soul intact.
Jerry saw Titanic in 3-D, and said, “It’s ridiculous, people are arguing that there was room for both of them on this door. Just because it’s in 3D doesn’t mean you are an expert on the dimensions. He tried, it was top heavy and they are just characters . . . people take it so seriously.”
Me, “I am sorry, I get a little emotional when we talk about Jack drowning.”
I jogged back to my car and headed back to Sylmar. Abe was bringing me dinner.
It was almost like I was dying, and all my friends were making time to pay their respects.
Only, its the exact opposite of that, I was being reborn, and everyone I loved was coming forward to help a little, to show their support, to give me a hug and send me up into the sky.