|Got up early the next morning. My mother wasn't living with us at the time, so my dad made breakfast -- a big bowl
of scrambled eggs, a huge skillet of hash browns, a platter of toast, heap-o-bacon, juice and hot chocolate. Kristi
was impressed. Jennifer showed up. Theresa had to go to work -- she'd meet us there later. Craig didn't or couldn't
go. I was too excited to eat. We were going to stay at my Aunt Linda and Uncle Donny's, who lived in Fresno.
The car, a '64 and a half Mustang -- the original and best, even if it did have a tantrum -- decided it wanted
to try to overheat. Jennifer slowed her down until the engine cooled a bit. Perfect timing. Up till now, it'd been
fine. I think we drove 40 mph all the way there. We drove and drove, got to Pacheco Pass, Jennifer and I glancing
at each other... remember when? Made it to Fresno and found my aunt's house. Deposited luggage, got directions
to the CSUF campus and took off.
Fresno is about as close to hell on Earth as you can get. It's hot. It's dry. And you'd prefer to die rather than
spend a summer day outside. I'd gotten up happy that morning, but so many stupid and annoying things happened on
the way to Fresno, I was no longer in a good mood. But I was really looking forward to seeing the Pretenders, so
I was going to overlook this stuff. Found the campus. Parked. We climbed out, relieved to be out of the car for
the rest of the day. There was a truck parked next to the car. A guy was standing in front of it, eating a taco
(from Taco Bell -- I can remember this very clearly, unfortunately). "Excuse me," I said, "can you
tell us where the amphitheatre is?" He stood there, chewing. OK, I'd wait until he was done. He swallowed
and looked at us. "Do you know where the amphitheatre is?" Did he speak English? Was I? Had I forgotten
which country I was in and spoken in French? German? Portuguese? "The amphitheatre," I said, pointing
in different directions with both hands, joking, "do you know where it is? Any idea?" He nodded toward
Kristi, "You're on my truck." She most certainly was not... near it, yes, but not touching it. She moved
anyhow. He took another bite. Kristi said, "Boy, you're a real asshole, aren't you?" We walked off, me
snickering. What a jerk! Man, what would cause someone to act like that? I mean, why would you? Does it make some
people happy, being mean? I don't get it. Maybe it's just from living in Fresno.
Met up with D., another Pretenders pal. B. was already there with her friend -- they'd flown in. This was it, she
said, her father was extremely mad. You know how far you can push your parents before it's serious and they mean
what they say. Anyone who has ever been a child, and I believe that includes most of us, knows where that line
is. She had a small gig poster -- hey, where'd that come from? They were hanging up, but there aren't anymore,
she said. Oh yeah? Jennifer, D. and I went scouting. Saw one on a wall, behind some bushes. "It's mine!"
I called, breaking into a run for it. D. started to run for it too, shoving me aside. Ooooh -- are we playing rough?
OK, I can do that too. If I sped up I'd be in front of her, then she might fight me for it, but I wouldn't have
enough time to remove the poster, which means it would've been ripped. So I stayed with her. Got very near the
building, shoved her into the high bushes while I sailed over the low ones. She tumbled into them, screaming, while
I slammed into the wall. I hadn't slowed down, estimating that I'd lose less time if the wall stopped me than if
I slowed to a stop. Bounced off the wall and very, very carefully freed the orange poster from its binding staples.
Turned to D. "Told you it was mine." Yeah, that was a rotten stunt, but she'd had all day to get a poster...
hell, she lived there, could've gotten all of them before we arrived on the scene. And she'd started it. I've got
two of those posters, an orange one and one that is off-white. I can't recall where I got the second one. Jennifer?
Maybe D. got it and I bought it from her when she sold her stuff? Hmm... Well, she was mad at me now and left to
stand in line.
Kristi, Jennifer and I drifted off, up to no good as usual (D. could hold our places). Went around to the back.
They had a fence up -- the tour coach was inside. Is this cyclone fence supposed to keep me out? Or is it merely
a short, easy climbing exercise for the day? They might as well have put up a sign that said "Don't Go Past
This Sign." But I was good and stayed on the outside of the Pretenders corral. Malcolm came over to say hello
to Kristi. He stopped talking when I shifted -- he could see my shirt, the bootleg I'd picked up the night before.
"Where'd you get that?" "What? Oh, the shirt? They were selling them outside the Greek Theatre last
night. Five bucks -- good deal even if it is pink." I frowned... was there anything on the back? "Oh,
yeah." I turned -- I'd left my army shirt in the car because it was so hot. "I want that shirt!"
"I'm wearing it, Malcolm." "I'll trade you something for it." Ooooh! A trade with Malcolm.
"Whatcha got?" He looked around. "I'll give you... a bottle of champagne." "Forget it!
You get the stuff for free -- besides, I'm wearing it!" I thought he'd trade me one of his shirts for
it. "Two bottles!" "Nah. Hey, what does Chrissie have? Is her Road Spider jacket on the coach?"
I laughed. Malcolm was not amused. "I'll buy it from you." Now, how many bills would it take for me to
make a shirt? "No way!" If he'd have at least offered me his tour itinerary, something that's not easy
to find -- I would have done it for that. But he wasn't going to make a deal I'd be happy with. He gave Kristi
a bottle of champagne, as if to punish me. I was bummed.
The fence blocked off their area in an open space behind a building. Made my way to the front of the building.
Hmm... now I wonder... the door was unlocked -- YES! I went in. Music Building. There were all these little soundproof
booths to practice in. I kept going, went around a corner -- oooh, stage equipment! And cases marked "Pretenders"!!
Now, what was it I wanted? I ran out to tell Jennifer what I'd found (no, I didn't take anything, didn't even touch
anything -- it's not my stuff). We went back in. I was walking backwards, talking to Jennifer. I stopped, looked
up -- what the--? "Hey," I pointed up, "those look just like the lights they use..." Spun around
-- I was on the stage! Oh God, I'd have been in mega trouble had anyone seen me. Went tearing back through the
doorway. Where was everyone? In the back, drinking champagne, no doubt. What had I seen, on the way into the building?
What was that? No, it was not. Oh yes, I know it was. I backed up, not out on the stage like before, but
on the side and towards the back. Hynde's guitars. Oh, man! The white telecaster. And that beat-up blue one (much
worse for wear the last time I saw it), right here in front of me -- waiting. And the steel blue-grayish one. I
knelt down and just looked at them. No, I didn't touch -- again, it's not my stuff and it's not OK. I wanted to,
they were just standing there -- a little army. Which songs were written on which? I hope Chrissie never has that
little blue guy repainted, it's awfully charming. Yeah, I was absolutely fascinated. Why? Because they're so personal,
because Pretenders songs have been written with them, because they hold more Pretenders history and secrets than
almost anyone or anything else. I pulled myself away, sure I'd never get to see them that close up again.
It would be simple to get backstage. Not that I was trying to get backstage, I just enjoy figuring out how I could.
That's the puzzle. Once solved, it's not that interesting anymore. And it's not that I don't want to go
backstage... Oh, lord, I'd die for it. I've never been and it would so, well... different, anyhow. But until the
day Hynde herself pulls me backstage (and I'm not holding my breath on that one), I don't belong there.
We went back to the line, eventually, and waited for hours in the volcanic heat. It seemed like every person we
met was a genuine peckerhead. I started to feel sick from not eating or drinking anything, and from the blistering
heat, which I do not exactly do well in anyhow. I was grouchy too. These drunks tried to push their way in front
of us in line. That killed the remainder of my rapidly-decreasing tolerance. I shoved the lot of them. "Don't
you DARE come over here and try to cut in line in front of us, you stupid fuckers!" They just could not understand
why it wasn't OK for them to pour out of their car and stroll to the front of the line. They got behind us -- still
cutting, but if the people behind us didn't care, why should I? We had our plan: Jennifer would run for the front,
I'd hold her jacket and my army shirt I'd gotten out of the car and have them searched. Jennifer was built for
speed, I'm more for strength. She'd get us to the front, I'd keep us there. Had everything checked and searched
and poked and x-rayed and got in, finally. Ran down to the front. Got a spot in front of Malcolm, just to his right.
Theresa showed up, worked her way to the front as it was extremely crowded. I'd saved a space for her. She had
a shitty car that overheated a lot, she'd driven down to Fresno and found the campus after she got off work. Fresno
is a three-hour drive from San Jose, if you don't stop. She'd really pushed it getting there. "Look,"
she said, "my shoe melted!" I looked down -- the bottom of her shoe had melted from the engine's heat.
Before Simple Minds came out, it started. This was one large crowd-o-assholes. The pushing was the worst I've ever
experienced. Ever -- before or since. When Simple Minds came out, they weren't pushing anymore -- they were pulling.
Yes, pulling. There were hands all over us -- at least three sets on me alone -- trying to pull us away from the
front row. Jennifer couldn't hold on. She grabbed me. "NO! You can't hold onto me, you have to hold onto the
barrier!" "I CAN'T!" So she held onto me, and Theresa latched onto me as well, but at least she
could still help hold us in the front. Luckily, there were supports for the barrier in front of me. I wrapped my
arms and legs around one of them, and had Theresa and Jennifer link arms with me. I became one with the barrier.
Now if I was going to be pulled away from the front, they'd have to tear off my limbs. They tried. It was savage.
Funny thing is, I never once thought: Is this worth it? I'm getting beaten, bruised... I can't breathe... just
let go. The people who were next to us changed often as the ones who were there got pulled away one after another.
Simple Minds finished their set. Sadly, it was a relief.
Someone in the road crew saw Jennifer and remembered her (Jennifer the Irresistible)... and did we want something
to drink? God, yes. He came back with a plastic bottle of orange juice. Jennifer opened it with one hand and drank.
She held the bottle while I drank as I couldn't let go. When we finished that off, he came back and asked if we
wanted anything else. (Backstage? Understage? Can I stand in this waterless moat to watch the show?) "Yeah,
sure." "What?" "Whatever." He refilled it with water. We left about half and passed it
around. I kept the lid.
The Pretenders came out. Oh, great -- the crowd was just playing around before, now they were going to get serious.
Chrissie kept looking over at us. I assume she sensed my lack of joy, as it was dark and she couldn't really see.
Her monitor wasn't in the right spot. Was the road crew out drinking champagne when they were supposed to be setting
up or what? She got pissed and started to drag it to where it belonged. Someone bolted out on-stage and moved it
for her (she was pregnant, remember?). But she was still mad. She came over a few times. I could not look at her
-- I just couldn't. I was trying to hold on and I swear I would've cried. I felt awful and was violently agitated.
Finally she came over and stood there. It must've been during "My City Was Gone" because that's the only
song with a long break in the vocals, but I don't really remember. No, I was not going to look at her.
She wasn't leaving. She was looking down at me, I could feel it. She was not going to leave. I do believe I've
found the one person on the planet who is more stubborn than I. She was either going to stand there looking down
at me all night or get fed up and clobber me with her guitar. We'd done this before, last winter. I knew better
than to try to get away. I looked up. She leaned over and, with no apparent concern for our surroundings, asked
"What's wrong?" like I was two years old. I couldn't explain, even as I was being pulled in four different
directions. If I'd have tried, it would've taken too long and I would've dissolved into tears. The only way to
avoid sobbing was to dump more anger on it. So I stared back at her, accommodating my fury as best I could, and
said, "These people are real assholes." Her eyes narrowed, she was hunting. She looked at everyone around
me, glaring. "Who?" What could I say? I shook my head. "Never mind." "WHICH ONES?!"
Demanding now. What punishment would they receive? "It's all of them." She looked at everyone around
us and stormed off, incensed.
Someone threw a cigarette on-stage. "Do you mind not throwing your cigarette butts on MY stage?!" she
roared, throwing it back at the audience. Oh, great. Now she's in a foul mood -- is this my fault? Partly my fault?
Or nothing to do with me? It was quite dark so I don't think she knew what was going on, but she was able to find
us so I don't know. I don't think you'd be able to figure it out -- it seems like an audience would look like a
big mess and nothing more. Whenever she had a free moment away from the microphone, more often than not, she came
over and stood in front of us. She came over for the encore. "What song do you want to hear?" -- as if
we were in charge. I still could not look her in the eye. I'd watched her boots all night. "Tattooed Love
Boys," Theresa said. Hynde nodded. They played it even though the crowd was yelling for "Brass In Pocket."
They didn't play "Brass" that night. When they were done, Chrissie returned to us and leaned over. She
was going to toss her guitar pick to me. As you know by now, I could not let go or we'd be sucked backwards into
the crowd. An absolute ton of hands went up to try to intercept her toss. Then she saw how bad it was. She leaned
over more. I thought she'd fall -- how could I dive for her to break her fall if I couldn't move? Jennifer was
leaning forward and had her free hand out. Her left arm was wrapped around my right arm. Chrissie was going to
put the pick directly into Jennifer's hand. But still, everyone was reaching for it -- diving on Jennifer with
their arms outstretched and the people next to Jennifer trying to push her back. So Hynde was leaning off the edge
of the stage, perched precariously with nothing to hold onto. Jennifer was leaning forward, their hands nearly
touching. Chrissie moved farther to the right, more in front of me where there were fewer open hands and lunging
bodies. Jennifer followed. Chrissie leaned forward even more -- now fuck me and how lousy I felt, she was
gonna fall and it would be all my fault. She placed the guitar pick into Jennifer's hand and didn't
let go until Jennifer's hand was closed on it. Then she pointed to me. It was mine. Jennifer nodded. Why'd she
have to do that? I was scared to death she'd slip. Nearly killed herself so I could have a guitar pick. We locked
gazes again and I think we both thought the same thing: Damn you. I adore that woman. Anyone who says anything
bad about her is gonna have to tangle with me. She doesn't need me, that's for sure, but I sure need her.
The crowd started to leave. A girl behind jumped up on me -- she threw her arms around my neck, choking me. "She
talked to you! You got attention!" She kissed me. She kissed me! "GET OFF ME!" I bellowed,
throwing her back into the crowd. She'd slammed her cooties into my cheek. I don't sleep with you. Do we fuck,
you and I? No, we do not, and I don't want your bodily fluids on me. Fuckin' yuck.
We exited the amphitheatre. I had my white guitar pick (it's a heavy pick and she wore part of it down -- how hard
had she been hitting that guitar?) and souvenir plastic lid. And I was insane with rage. I wanted nothing more
than to get into a fight. I hurled insults at everyone I saw, hoping someone would step forward and try to shut
me up. No one did. They probably though I was just some psycho, but no one came near or even said anything. Now
who was being a jerk?
We went to the car, dying of thirst and no bottle opener for the Cokes in the car (there were a couple of cans
and a bunch of bottles). I pried them part way off with something found in the car, then opened them the rest of
the way with my teeth. My teeth are made of granite and I've never been able to damage them... even when I slammed
face-first into a curb when I was little and my mouth hit the top of it, all I'd done was bruise myself. Anyhow,
I had a can of Coke (yes, it's relevant). We got into the car and were going to go to the hotel, wherever it was.
We stopped at a light. Once we went through the light, we'd split off from the other traffic to get on the freeway.
The sides of the freeway were sloped steeply and covered with that shitty ivy California uses to decorate everything.
A guy on a motorcycle was in the next lane on our right. He'd have to get on the freeway too. Everyone was wound
up from my behavior. Jennifer wasn't even pulling any crap... normally she'd be trying to race the guy next to
us. The light turned green. We took off, picking up speed. The guy on the motorcycle stayed even with us. I noticed
him, but I didn't look at him. Just before we got to the split-off he swerved into our lane.
Jennifer, always an excellent driver (she is, she can get through anything and get there first) avoided him by
veering into the lane on the left. If she hadn't done this, he'd have been under the car and, more tragic, might
have scratched it on the way down. Then she pulled back quickly to avoid hitting the car in the left lane and the
oncoming metal divider. What the hell? I looked at him, even with us again (my window was down, sweltering
weather). He smiled, then he laughed. That was it. That was the end. He'd almost made Jennifer wreck the
car for no reason and was now laughing about it. I'd had enough bullshit for one day, had exceeded the limit long
ago. "You inbred piece of shit!" I yelled, throwing my full can of Coke at him as hard as I could
with my left hand, diving nearly halfway out of the car to give it more force. I did not care if I fell out of
the car and got killed -- this was not going to continue, no matter what the cost. He got hit in the arm
and knocked a bit off balance. He swerved to the right and very nearly went off the road and down the slope, pulling
back at the last second. He wasn't laughing now. Hey, what's wrong, pal, wasn't that just as funny as the bit you
just pulled? I let out quite a savory string of obscenities as we passed him. He was catching up to us again. I
was out the window. ready to be pulled out of the car (and killed) for a fight. C'mon, do your best, asshole.
Jennifer dove across the seat and pulled me in, flooring the pedal at the same time. We launched like a rocket
and the guy disappeared. She was yelling at me, "You know you have to wear your seat belt in my car,
you know it! Put it on NOW! What are you trying to do, get KILLED?! I'm not going home and telling Dad you
died!" (Pretty much everyone I know calls my dad "Dad.") She slowed down and pulled into the right
lane, and after awhile asked, "Where's the Hilton?" "How should I know? I'm not from this shit hole!"
"No, but you've been here enough -- where is it?" I looked around, trying to find downtown Fresno. "There,"
I said, pointing, "head for that big batch of lights".
But the guy on the motorcycle was back, and he'd brought some friends -- two truckloads, literally. They were in
front of and next to us before we knew what was going on. "SHIT!" Jennifer yelled, slamming on the brakes.
They were throwing all kinds of stuff at us -- luckily only one item hit the car, and it was very small (probably
an assailant's brain). Jennifer floored the pedal again and went off the road to snake around them, took the exit
at 80 mph (no traffic in Fresno -- good thing), ran the first two red lights and careened around a corner or two.
Oh. The Hilton. Cool.
Pulled into a parking space. Theresa, with us the entire time, pulled into a space of her own. Who says girls can't
drive? We lost those guys, but Theresa was able to stick right behind us the whole time. I climbed out and inspected
the car. There was a small chip of paint taken off the hood -- not bad. We were alive. I was still in one piece
after pulling a series of stupid stunts. The car wasn't wrecked. We were at the Hilton. Well, all right! Theresa
got out. "What was that about? I couldn't believe that idiot almost hit you guys with his motorcycle!"
We all agreed he was Jerk of the Day and gave him the big round of applause we always awarded someone who was a
real donkey's butt.
We went into the hotel. There was a girl there who'd been at the hotel in Berkeley. She had (dyed) black hair with
a chunk of orange and a chunk of purple. We'd (creatively) referred to her as The Girl With The Purple Hair. She
had a really big mouth -- bigger than mine, if you can believe it. She had a couple of friends with her. I had
my gang. Apparently, we didn't like each other. Had I missed something here? I thought she was dumb -- she'd asked
Chrissie, "Did you write Jealous Dogs about your dog?" It was an incredibly stupid question. Chrissie
said, "Uh, no." (But I wish she'd said, "Oh, yes. What else could it be?") It was one of those
times she looked at me and we both started laughing. But that didn't mean I hated this girl, and even if I did,
I'm usually capable of acting civilized. Were they the only other fans there? I can't remember anyone else. The
lobby was silent. There was someone behind the front desk, and maybe a security guard. There was a sitting area
-- a square made of two couches and four chairs (couch, two chairs, couch, two chairs, and a table in the middle).
We sat on one side, they on the other. We asked if the band had come in yet. The girl with the purple hair said
she didn't think so, but she wasn't sure. They hadn't seen Chrissie. You folks wouldn't lie to me, now, would you?
My anger had still not yet subsided. We sat there for awhile.
Kristi wanted something to drink and asked the desk clerk where a Coke machine was. Up the elevator to the second
floor. "Come with me." Grumbling, I went. The second floor Coke machine was out of root beer. She pressed
the button for the top floor, which was like -- four or something (Fresno, remember?). When the doors started to
open, she said, "Don't hold it, I've always wanted to do this." She bounded down the corridor, threw
her money in the machine, grabbed her root beer, dashed back and leapt in between the closing doors. "I always
wondered if I could do that." I was not amused, just stood there, silent, still mad. "Hey!" She
hit me with the back of her hand. "Chrissie." Dropping to her knees, she leaned forward, right arm in
the air, singing into her can, "He-ey! He-ey! He-ey! He-ey!" This was too much for me, I started to laugh.
Soon I was in tears, on the floor of the elevator, howling hysterically, Kristi still doing her Chrissie-singing-
Room Full of Mirrors imitation, with a can of root beer for a microphone. Arriving at the lobby, the elevator's
doors opened and all the sounds it contained spilled out. Everyone turned to look. Then the doors closed and we
were off again, which made it even funnier to me. From one extreme to another, just like that. Exuberance claimed
me -- anger hadn't even ebbed, just vanished in an instant.
After resting for a bit, I was able to sit up, then stand. We stopped on the third floor, pressed the lobby button
in the lift, and shot out and down the staircase at the end of the corridor, flew into the lobby hooting with glee,
straight back into the opening elevator doors and back up. Theresa joined us, coming from the other elevator. Got
off on the top floor. In front of one door was a huge pile of food garbage. A cake box and plates, glasses, chip
bags. I remembered Martin saying, "I can eat four meals a day and still lose weight. "Look! Martin's
room!" I chuckled. "Hey! Where's Chrissie?" Tumbling to the floor, I looked under a door. It was
dark -- empty...? (I hope so.) "Chrissieeee?" I mewed. We all started in again, convulsing with laughter.
Crawling to the next door, a suite, whispering, "Chrissie?" through conspiratorial gales of laughter.
Kristi, between breaths, whispered, "What if Chrissie was here?" Overcome again by peals of laughter,
I collapsed onto my side, rolled over on my back and curled up, rocking from side to side. "Oh God, wouldn't
that be just great! The door flies open and there's these boots--" I couldn't even finish. She'd KILL
us! She'd fuckin' kill us. Why was that funny? Then I couldn't move, lay there in a ball snorting, my tears soaking
the carpet. We spent some time running down halls, screaming, shrieking, up and down the elevators, the stairs,
through the lobby. Not once did the desk clerk tell us to shut up or leave. Must've been a slow night. Jennifer
had joined us at some point.
During our wild festivities, we ran into, literally, Donna Santisti, who was a photographer touring with the band.
She stopped us. I thought she'd yell at us, but she didn't. I know she said something about Chrissie being really
mad after the show, but I can't recall what about her being mad. I informed her that Fresno was coming along
very well in their quest to become an abysmal example of life in America. Jennifer told her what had happened on
the way to the hotel. She said, "Oh, wow. So you guys are having, like, a really bad time, huh?"
A really bad time? We're running around like maniacs in a nice hotel, singing, laughing, racing each other in the
elevators, down the stairs, playing hide-and-seek. Oh yes, a dreadful time. I thought for a minute. "Well,
it was pretty awful," but cheered up, "but it's OK now, we're, um..." (What? Racing around like
lunatics?) "It's OK, I'm with my friends, it's all right now." She gave us her card and said to write
to her and she'd send us some pictures of the band. I never did write, but I've thought of her often and wondered
what she was up to. That was generous of her to make that offer. Strange thing is, when the Pretenders toured in
1994 and we were in San Francisco, I met someone who claimed to live around the corner from Donna. Kristi was with
me in San Francisco and we were like, "Hey! She said she'd give us pictures!" I'd write to her, but I'm
sure she wouldn't remember us.
After a while of waiting for the band, the other group left. Yeah, where were they, anyhow? There's nothing
to do in Fresno. Finally we left too. It was well past two o'clock in the morning. We crossed the street to get
to the cars, stood there goofing around for awhile. Jennifer jumped on my back. "Wooooo-hoooo!" "Ow
ow owwww!" We howled like maniacs while I spun around. She hopped off. We split up to head for our rides.
"Good night." What? It was a man's voice. I looked up, couldn't see, waved, hoping whoever said it would
wave back and maybe I could find him. A wave came back -- from the top floor -- the suite I'd nearly died laughing
in front of. There was a man in a white t-shirt -- I could just make it out -- on the balcony. "Good night,"
I called back. Mortified, I turned back toward the car. Whoever was up there was a Scot, he'd said "Goodnae."
Got in the car. I could hardly move. I was exhausted from the show, then from laughing so hard. Don't know how
we found my aunt's house. Guessed, I guess. It was awfully late. Starving, I dropped into a bed, put my lid on
the night stand, and slept with the pick in my hand. (And I feel overwhelmingly stupid letting anyone know I did
that.) It's a piece of plastic, that pick. Made out of margarine or whatever they make plastic out of. Plastic.
And it's small. I know this. I try to keep it in perspective. Just plastic... Guess I'm not good at perspective,
either. To me, the guitar pick is the end result of all the effort someone (who doesn't even know me, mind you)
put forth just to make me feel better. Someone who could've gone, you're bringin' me down -- fuck you. Or looked
somewhere else and pretended not to see. It would have meant a lot to me even if I didn't know who she was, either.
But I do know, and it means so much more because of it. Jennifer passed out next to me. Slept off and on. Got up
Theresa and Kristi, who'd slept on the sleeper sofa in the living room (bathed in the light of a giant Pepsi clock
which was in the next room) were waking up. C'mon, Jennifer, get up. We were all pretty whipped. Aunt Linda, Uncle
Donny and my Great-Aunt Gert were finishing breakfast (how early did they get up?) Did we want something? "No
thanks, we really have to go." Told them the show was fantastic. (What was I supposed to say? I've never been
so miserable?) I know we should've eaten something. While trying to get dressed, I felt like I was going to pass
out. Every time I attempted to pull my shirt over my head, I'd get dizzy. I leaned against a wall, slid down it
and got dressed sitting on the floor. I was surprised that I made it out of the house without throwing up. But
we had to leave.
Kristi had to eat breakfast, so she went to the tiny restaurant inside the hotel. I sat with her for awhile. The
waitress asked me, "Are you the one on tour?" I was wearing my Pretenders II t-shirt, and sunglasses.
If I looked like anyone on there, it'd have to be -- Martin? "Uh... no." I laughed. She left,
but kept looking at me, sure I was Chrissie Hynde, or Martin Chambers. I left. Bought two candy bars for breakfast.
Sat in the sitting square with Theresa and Jennifer. Tracy came down, probably for no reason other than to see
how many pain-in-the-ass fans were in the lobby. Three, Tracy, and one in the restaurant.
Martin came down, looked around suspiciously and went into the cigarette shop where I'd gotten my tasty stale candy
bars (I'd decided to save the second one -- I think they were the original candy bars they stocked the shelves
with when they built the hotel). He came out with a pack of smokes (tee-hee -- he hadn't seen us) and got into
the elevator, opening his purchase. When the doors started to close, I yelled, "Hey! I thought you QUIT!"
We'd all ducked down behind the furniture and were peeking above the backs of it and through plants. He nearly
dropped them, looked like a deer caught in headlights. The doors closed and up he went. Yes, I looked to see which
floor, but it stopped once, then went to the top so I don't know where he got off. Giggled about that for awhile.
Kristi came out, asked me if I was the one on tour and could she have my autograph? Waited.
Ding. The elevators opened and a load of people piled out. Babies, rock stars, nannies, who were all these
people? And how did they all fit into that little elevator that I'd been laughing so hard in just hours before?
I was embarrassed. Had they heard us last night? Was Chrissie waiting until now to kill me? I was in the chair
farthest from the lobby doors, across from another chair. Chrissie stopped when she saw us. She leaned over the
back of the empty chair across from me. "Hey!" "Hi!!" She aimed for me -- uh-oh. "Was
the show that bad last night?" Whew. "Oh no. You just wouldn't believe all the stuff that happened to
us yesterday. It was just shi--" --I looked at Natalie-- "not good." "Well, if you ever bum
me out like that again, I'm gonna kick you." "Fair enough. Thanks for the pick and stuff." She nodded.
"Oh." I pulled out 'The Waitress.' "I promised a friend of mine (and will never again promise anyone
anything if it has to do with the Pretenders) I'd give you this if I got to meet you." Got up and handed it
to her. "I swear to you I didn't do it... but it is funny. She changed the words of 'The Adultress' to 'The
Waitress.'" "Oh, OK." She glanced at it, something caught her eye and she read it. Done, she laughed.
"Great!" Marlene was going to love this. She was looking down, reading again. "Well, we don't want
to keep you. We had so much fun. It's been pretty incredible..." She jerked her head up in surprise and interrupted,
"You aren't going to the last show?"
We all looked at each other. The last show was in Costa Mesa -- about a nine-hour drive from San Jose, not including
stopping for gas and to eat. We never went to Los Angeles to see bands. It was a long haul and we hadn't even considered
buying tickets for it. When you live in northern California, southern California is like another state. It might
as well have been in Florida or another country. The thought of going never crossed the threshold of my mind until
she said that. "Well, no. I mean..." What did I mean? We all looked at each other again. Why the
hell didn't we buy tickets?! Where was my head? "Um..." Chrissie was still looking at me as if she'd
just asked the question. "I mean..." Damn! I continued in amazement, "We didn't even buy tickets,
and..." "Oh," she pushed that excuse aside, waving her hand, "I'll give you tickets."
I sat there shocked. We all looked at each other again, and grins began to appear. We were all thinking the same
thing... at least an eight-hour trip with no money, we'd starve again... and we'd have to drive home first, three
more hours. Yes! We'd do it! I looked at Chrissie, "Really?" "Yeah!" She really wanted
us to go. This was mind-blowing.
I mean, she did want us to go, she was excited too. (OK, not as much as I was, but she wanted us to go and was
giving us tickets.) "Here -- give me your names -- write them on the back of this." It was 'The Waitress.'
We did. Gave it back. She said, "All right!" "All right!" we echoed. We got up to leave. "Wow!
Thanks! See ya!" "Bye." She left smiling. We stood there for a couple minutes, making plans. "You
have to call in sick -- tell them Uncle Bob died." Theresa and I always used Uncle Bob. He'd been dead for
a few years, but when you needed out of something and people knew you weren't sick, "I can't, I have to go
to a funeral. My Uncle Bob died." "Oh, I'm sorry." "Yeah, well," trying not to laugh,
trying not to finish with "it's happened before." Hell, how many times did that man die? Jennifer and
I had slept in his room the night before. "We'll need money for gas." "We can't take my car -- it'll
overheat." "Mine, too." Theresa said, "You have to ask Dad if we can borrow the car -- he always
gives you what you want." "OK." Plotting, planning -- there was a lot to be done.
We left the Hilton, ready to cross the street to the cars, noticed it wasn't a street but a driveway to the parking
lot for the hotel. A limo was backing out. We stopped to let it go. A hand came out to wave us on and the car stopped.
We quickly crossed the driveway, still discussing our plans. "Hey!" We stopped and turned around. It
was Chrissie. She'd rolled the window down. "What are you guys going to do now?" "Right now?"
I yelled back -- they were kinda far away. She nodded. "We're going to go eat." "Then what?"
I wasn't going to stand in the middle of the sidewalk twenty feet from a car yelling to its passengers, that's
what. We walked over. I kneeled down by her open window. "We have to go home and make our dad lend us his
car. Then we have to..." --I looked back at Theresa, who was behind me-- "... what?" Theresa shrugged.
I turned back. "Some of us have to lie to get off work." "What do you guys do?" she asked.
Chrissie looked at Theresa for her to start since there were four of us. "I work for a computer company."
She had a shitty factory job. The happiest I've ever seen her was the day she quit. Jennifer: "I'm a secretary.
I hate it." Kristi said something about working for a computer company also. I don't remember her exact answer,
but she mentioned using an air brush. I think what she did was remove dust and stuff from computer parts. Chrissie
perked up. "Oh, you can really do some neat stuff with airbrush." "Yeah." Kristi said later,
"I knew she'd think it was painting -- everyone does. I didn't have the heart to tell her it was a boring
factory job." Hynde looked at me. "I just got out of school. I quit my job to go see you guys in Worcester,
Massachusetts last month. I'm free." This seemed to please her, but she appeared to be kinda bummed. No musicians?
Was that it? No art people (except for Kristi with her airbrush). But she didn't ask if we could play anything,
or paint or draw or write. She asked what we did, implying for money. Theresa, Jennifer and I all played guitar.
Theresa could draw and paint very well. Jennifer wrote stuff, really funny stories, mostly. I wrote shitty poetry.
No waitresses? Did she ponder my fate? Assume I, a once happy, wild and free kid, would get some crappy job like
these other two behind me? Akron and San Jose are parallel in that respect -- get out or get stuck. (I got out.
But I moved to Akron. Huh.) All she had to do was ask. I'm not falling into that -- I'd blow my brains onto a wall
first. Unlike her, I didn't find fame and fortune, but I'm not ambitious enough to go looking for it. I found my
Then she gave Natalie, who was on her lap (which must now be unimaginable to Chrissie and Natalie) and who was
staring at me the entire time (kids always do that to me, I'm used to it) a tiny nudge. We were all smiling at
her. She was a cutie. Chrissie said, "Can you smile for the fans?" At which all smiles disappeared. SMILE
FOR THE FANS?! How dare she call me the F word. And in front of that sweet child no less. How dare she!
How demoralizing. Hell, how humiliating. Why couldn't she leave "for the fans" off? But watching her
with her child, I knew she didn't mean anything by it. If she wanted to stab me, she'd have done it sooner and
better. She wanted Natalie to smile and that was just how it came out. But the child was not going for it. She
just looked at us. Not all all afraid, but not wanting to do what was asked of her. "So what are you guys
doing after the tour? Can we have a new album soon? I mean, I hate to be so selfish, but I am, so..." "Yeah.
We'll probably do some more recording. And I want to have a few more of these." She pointed to Natalie. I
said, "A few?!" She laughed. "No way!" I continued. Jim, who was in the front
seat, started laughing too. "No no no no." I shook my head, looking down. "Two is good. Two girls.
Sisters." I looked at Theresa. "Right?" She made a face. "Well, it's good sometimes, or maybe
just once in awhile..." Everyone was laughing -- Martin, Tracy, Jim, Chrissie, and people I'd never seen before.
Well, everyone over the age of two was laughing
It's weird, thinking about it now. This was one of the last times I'd speak to Martin for many years. What else
was going on in Chrissie's head? Within two years, the next album would be recorded. Martin would not be included.
The next tour would be so alien. So very different. She'd be Chrissie Hynde, Rock Star-O-the-Universe, and everyone
would jump at her request. She would be different -- yet, she'd also be exactly the same. Why did she want to talk
to us again after leaving the lobby?
I don't remember what else was said. We were there for what? Ten minutes? "Take care -- see ya." "You
guys have a safe trip." I leaned in to her. "Take car of yourself -- be careful." I pointed to her
belly. "I don't want anything to happen to you... two." Looked at Jim. "Don't make her do anything
she doesn't want to." "I couldn't." "True." I nodded. He was a quick one. We all laughed
again. "Bye." We headed back down the street. They drove past us, waving. What an awfully nice batch
On the advice of Chrissie's doctor, they ended up canceling the rest of the Japanese tour dates after the first
few shows. Initially, it was announced that she'd had a miscarriage, but it was later learned that the Japanese
press misinterpreted the announcement.