135 SENTIMENTAL HYGIENE

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SENTIMENTAL HYGIENE

Ninety percent of the time spent on any tour is preparations. One moment you’re on stage, the next moment you’re off and already preparing for the next one, whether preparing to travel there or thinking about laundry or making sure to buy more strings.

The good thing about it is one can fall into a rhythm. We hit Chicago on schedule and went through the motions: Out of the van, load in, check out the dressing rooms (nice, the kind with lighted mirrors), meet the local band opening for us, sound check. We were standing there on the stage while lights went on and off and light techs did their thing when Bart and Chris broke into some Def Leppard riff. Much as I wanted to jump in, I waited for them to die down and then hit the opening of “Windfall” and we played half of that.

We heard “Why The Sky” on the radio while we were eating dinner and I tried to remember what recording the song had been like, but my memories got all tangled up. I pictured the Chinatown loft even though we’d recorded it before that. I was playing the tune semi-acoustic in the show, with the Ovation, but I’d recorded it with the Fender. I think. I felt a little pit of unease in my stomach, wondering if I’d maybe smoked too much pot that day and addled my brains.

And then there was the getting dressed. For this tour Ziggy had settled into a costume of these black army surplus pants with extra pockets and such all over them, a mesh tank top, and either a leather jacket or a billowy white shirt, either of which he would shed by the third song. The pants were a little big in the waist and hung low on his hips, making his stomach look very long and flat. He had this little move he’d do sometimes while singing, pressing his palm to his chest and then sort of skiing it down his front and off into space–sounds stupid to describe but it was sexy to watch.

Bart played every show in one of two ratty-looking vintage tuxedo jackets, sometimes with a bow tie, when he was in the mood. And Chris, Chris could have been dressed up like Bozo the Clown and still nobody’d really see him behind the kit.

As for me, Ziggy’d convinced me to give up wearing sneakers on stage and out on combat boots instead, and I alternated between a pair of black jeans and a pair of artfully ripped blue ones, and a collection of cool-slogan/graphic/local band T-shirts I’d accumulated over the years.

He also cornered me before the Chicago show with a bottle of liquid eyeliner. I resisted at first, but the look he gave me said essentially, look, things can’t get worse. Just try it.

So I sat in a chair and tried to look at the ceiling while his hands held my face and lined me. “Watch the Kilroy Was Here video again,” he was saying, as if I needed reassurance. “Even Tommy Shaw’s wearing eyeliner.”

“Tommy Shaw’s blond,” I said, for argument’s sake.

“So he’s not wearing black liner, jeez. And boy they really caked it on to Dennis De-Old.”

“Hey, if you can still sing like that at his age, you won’t quit either.”

“True.”

It was kind of nice to have Ziggy touch me like that.

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