Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fail 2.0

Yesterday was a thrilling day filled with music, laughter, tasty food, and unimaginable personal humiliation.

Steve and I were busy with two performances. Our first gig was at St. Joseph's Hospital in Nashua. The hospital has occasional community outreach programs to let people know that you don't need to wait until you are desperately ill and coughing up internal organs to come to the hospital. You can come for some family fun, too.

After the hospital show, Steve had to grab some milk at the store. True fact: Even Rock & Roll superstars like Steve Blunt like a tall glass of milk now and then. As we were exiting the grocery store, we passed a beautiful young lady entering the store. She saw me and her eyes lit up and she stopped and gave me an effusive greeting. "Hey! How are you?" she asked. Steve was very impressed that I was being greeted by such a lovely young lady.

I totally panicked. I didn't recognize her and I mentally scrambled for a few desperate seconds trying to place her and not wind up looking completely foolish. I failed.

I feel that I must offer some feeble excuses and explanations for what happened next.

Excuse #1 - I was with Steve, at an unfamiliar grocery store in Nashua. I was out of my element.

Excuse #2 - When I'm with Steve, we tend to talk a lot about visits and performances we have done. From that mindset, I assumed that she was a teacher at one of the many schools I have visited. It happens on rare occasions that people will come up to me in public places and say hi, explaining that I had visited their school. It's always flattering, but I visit a lot of school. Try as I might, I can't remember everyone.

Excuse #3 - I am a dork.

She continued to chat amiably and comfortably for a few more gut wrenching seconds. When it finally became clear to me that I was not going to be able to figure out who she was in time to save any shred of self-respect, I broke down and said, "I'm so sorry. You're going to have to help me out. Where do I know you from?"

She stared at me, aghast. She cocked a hip to one side and gave me an incredulous look. "You've got to be kidding," she said, "I'm related to you."

Excuse #4 - It has been quite some time since I've seen my cousin, Christine.

So, the beautiful young lady was my cousin. I got it then, and I feel the need to emphasize the excuses I put forth before. I had not seen her in some time. I have been old and ugly for a long time, but these kids grow up and change and, doggonit, it's hard to recognize them sometimes.
She was not in her usual habitat (so, really, as she was not in a place where I expected to see her, she should have worn a name tag that said "Hello, I'm Marty's cousin, Christine.")

So, properly humiliated, I introduced her to Steve - who, I might mention, thought this amazing social gaffe on my part was one of the funniest things he's ever seen - and we chatted for a few more minutes and went our separate ways.

Steve and I drove off to his house where we ate sandwiches and contemplated what a total bozo I am and whether Christine might ever be able to forgive me. The sandwiches were tasty, but the forgiveness is still somewhat up in the air.

Our next big show for the day was at WERS, the radio station at Emerson College in Boston. with the taste of sandwich and humiliation still in my mouth, we drove down to the studios and started setting up.

Last year, Steve invited me to perform on the same radio show and it was a lot of fun. We were to be on the air for about 15 minutes, during which we would play a few songs and shamelessly promote our music, books, and upcoming events. While we were setting up and doing sound checks, one of the students who run the station came up to me with a paper and a pen. "You've got to read this and sign it, please," he said.

It was a sort of contract, assuring the station that I would not use any foul language while on the air. Considering that we were on a family show called "The Playground", and cutting loose with a barrage of obscenity would be a sure invitation to commercial and professional suicide, the contract seemed somewhat superfluous.

My favorite part of the contract was that fact that it not only warned against foul language, it provided dozens and dozens of specific examples of unacceptable vocabulary. The scope and specificity of the list was breathtaking. As a result, the contract I was was signing to prevent me from using obscenities, was full of more foul language than any printed document I have ever seen in my life. It had words, phrases, and combinations of words and phrases so exotic that they seemed to be a foreign language at times. It was really a good read and I should have asked for a copy, but I didn't think of it in time.

After we had assured the lawyers that we had no intention of filling the airwaves with naughty words, the host of the show, Andy, came into the studio and we went on the air. We chatted for a few minutes then went into our first song. Steve, I have mentioned in previous posts, likes to keep me on my toes by adding new songs to our sets mid-show and changing songs during performances. Things were rolling smoothly during our first song, Steve was strumming and singing, and I was banging on the djembe drum. As we neared the end of the song, Steve evidently decided that things were too easy for me and I was having too much fun. He made the executive decision to change the ending of the song. As a result, he suddenly stopped playing while my drumming continued for a measure or two until I realized that the song had ended.
"Hey, nice ending, there, Marty." Steve pointed out.

I was sad that I had signed the language contract then, because it had given me much verbal ammunition that I could have fired at Steve at that point. "Ha. Ha." I laughed, "I was having so much fun, I didn't want it to end."

After the show, we scorched our digestive tracts with some delicious Indian food and made our way homeward. Our next gig together is also in Boston. We'll be at the Read and Romp on November 14th. If you see us, come up and say hello.

If you are related to me or are someone I should know, please wear a nametag.

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