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The band had agreed on two weeks off after the Jingle Bell shindig, and given what our spring was going to look like, I suppose it was a good idea. Digger had promised Mills we’d do both the video and finish the new album by the end of March, which was the absolute latest I wanted to hit the road, so this was our chance to have some down time.

Bart flew to Saint Maarten where his family and Michelle were waiting. Christian’s family was spread over the North Shore and Brockton, so he slept at home some nights and drove out to visit different relatives on different days. Ziggy went to New York, to visit whom he didn’t say.

Digger had to fly on Christmas Day (when flights were cheap, he said) to Los Angeles for something and insisted we go out for a fancy dinner the night before. “Why don’t you bring your girlfriend,” he had suggested on the phone and I took a moment to figure out who he meant. I probably would have asked Carynne to come along anyway, to save me from the awkward silences I was afraid would fall.

That’s how the three of us ended up dining together at one of Boston’s fancier places on Christmas eve. I even dressed up for the occasion. I borrowed a silk shirt from Lars’ closet and put on new black jeans. I dug my short black boots out and polished them with tap water and a dish towel. When I asked Carynne if she thought I looked okay, she curled her lip and said “Hey, you’re a rock star, you can wear whatever you want.”

We met him at the restaurant which was not too far from his hotel. As we circled the block looking for parking in Carynne’s car, she asked me if she should play up the girlfriend part. I suggested the role of “potential” girlfriend as safer for both of us and, although she agreed, she laughed at how we were plotting. When we walked up to the table, I pulled her chair out for her which impressed her (and me) greatly and earned a wink from the old man.

“So glad that you could make it,” Digger said as he waved for the wine steward. He had already had a glass of something red. He ordered something sparkling and I amused myself with the elaborately engraved (but brief) menu until the wine came, feeling at that moment much like I did when we’d make a late night diner stop after a Nomad show, before sneaking back into the house. Once the poker buddies were left behind or the band had made their way home, what did he and I really have to say to each other?

He took the bottle from the waiter and poured three glasses himself. He held his aloft and opened his mouth as if to toast, then frowned. “What the hell,” he said, “Let the first toast be, Merry Christmas.”

Carynne and I chimed in, clinked glasses and drank.

Digger exhaled happily. “Ah, Martini & Rossi can kiss my ass. This is some good stuff.” Carynne giggled, all bright-eyed festivity. We ordered.

And Carynne did her best to save me from the silence. “Oh, Daron, I’m sorry I didn’t have a chance to get you anything.”

“That’s okay, I didn’t get you anything either,” I answered, which was the truth.

“Write me a song.”


“That’s what I want for Christmas. Write me a song.” She drained her glass of bubbly and held it out to Digger for more. He filled it while watching our exchange with a little smile on his face.

“Right now?”

“No, silly, whenever you do that sort of thing.”

“Okay, sure.” I sat back a bit, some part of my mind already riffling through the notecards of my mental inventory.

“Now you tell me what you want for Christmas.”

I had been half-there and suddenly snapped back, surprised. “What I want?”

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