143 LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

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LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

So I rode to Ann Arbor with Digger. Hey, I thought, he’s my dad, I ought to be able to spend an hour with him.

We were both still a bit hungover, and opted to keep the radio off as we left the parking lot. I fell asleep for I don’t know how long with my head against the window. When I woke up, we were driving into a heavy overcast. The van was in front of us, the truck behind, and I could see Bart sleeping with his feet up in the back seat. The car’s interior was plush, plum-colored, and smelled new. I was thirsty and wondered if I’d been sleeping with my mouth open.

“So this place, it’s some kind of a disco.”

“Hmm?”

“Wake up, lazybones, I’m talking to you. The Pittsburgh place.”

“Carynne mentioned they’d moved us to a bigger venue?”

“That’s what I’m telling you, the bigger place is this dance club type thing. Pittsburgh’s all converted industrial space, you know.” He drummed on the steering wheel as if he wished the radio were on. I switched it on to hear the last power chords of the Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”

“We’ll see it when we get there,” I said in a resigned voice.

Digger barked out a laugh. “Listen to you, Mister Jaded, tour weary already?”

“I’ve learned not to get too hopeful or pessimistic about these things.” Did I inherit the use of the word “Mister” from him, I wondered? I didn’t remember him saying it when I was a kid, and yet it seemed more likely that I’d picked it up from him than vice versa. I was trying to remember if Remo said it, too.

“Yeah, yeah. Look kid, there’s a couple of things I gotta tellya. Just speaking as an older individual here, now…”

Meaning what, not speaking as my parent or manager?

“…speaking as someone who has been around the block…”

Which I couldn’t help but hear as “The” Block…

“…you’ve got to accept the fact that there are some things you can’t really have wisdom about, can’t really be wise about, until you get older. No matter how much talent or skill or smarts you have, you have to accept the fact that there’s just shit beyond your understanding.”

“Uh huh.” I was trying to figure out what I’d just said that brought this little speech on, or if this was something he’d been working up to for a while.

Digger was wearing chinos and what I thought of as an ‘alligator shirt’ (which would have been brand name Izod? LaCoste? something like that) but was actually a Polo shirt, as in capital P Polo for Ralph Lauren, with a little polo player embroidered over his heart. I kind of wondered when he’d started dressing like this. When I was a kid he was always either in his salesman suit or a pair of faded jeans and a T-shirt. The suits looked basically the same, only better, now, but I wondered when the preppie casual wear came into play. He was still talking.

“I wish there was some way I could just transmit to you the experiences I’ve built up over the years, you know, without you having to go through them yourself. I mean, I can talk and talk but I can only hope that some smidgen of it all will sink in, enough to get you through, come what may.”

Digger, whether he’d been drinking or not, used to sometimes get up in front of the guys and pontificate in this kind of low but bombastic way, not unlike he was doing now. So he’d say things like “you know” and “whatevah” but punch it up with phrases like “come what may.” I wondered if he knew he did that, if it was some artifact of his own aborted schooling, or what. He’d had two years of college before he was either expelled, dropped out, or took a better opportunity, depending on who you talked to about it and what kind of mood they were in. I was still never clear on how he’d met Claire and ended up married to her, managing her father’s shoe store. That might explain the better shoes he wore now, though.

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