A Good Woman Is Hard to Find

Still in concert memoir mode …

A favorite of all the shows Fox and I went to was Oingo Boingo at the old Ritz downtown.   We loved Oingo Boingo, and not just because it was fun to say their name.  They gave a great show, and we had a lot of fun.  Afterwards, we stayed and danced until the shaking of that rickety second floor got to be just a little too unnerving.

The opening act had been the Ben Vaughn Combo.  We had no idea who Ben and his combo were, but we were game.  And then they came out … and we loved them.  I was still pretty deep in my Eastern European period, so it didn’t hurt that the bass player reminded me of Alexander Dubček, but it’s also true that they were fabulous.  They played a song I’ve never forgotten, A Good Woman I Hard to Find.  It’s a song with the strangest and most excellent lyrics.  Verses like:

There was an earthquake in Brazil.
There was an earthquake in Brazil.
A good woman is hard to find.
A good woman is so hard to find.
There was an earthquake in Brazil.

Can’t say enough how much we were loving them. 

And then one of Ben’s guitar strings broke.  And then I don’t know what happened.  He shook his head, said he couldn’t go on … and left the stage!  The band hung out for a few minutes, clearly expecting him to come back.  When he didn’t, they left, too. 

We were pretty amazed.  The crowd tried to clap them back, but no luck.  Too weird.

I’m glad Vaughn has gone on to all kinds of musical highs since that odd night.  I haven’t exactly followed his career, I’ll admit, but I’ve looked him up every once in a while since my introduction to the internets, and he’s been out and about, a busy and successful guy.  Which is just as it should be.  For me, though, he’ll always be that one wonderful song that I can still sing all these years later after hearing it only once.

(A good woman is hard to find.  A good woman is so hard to find.  There was an earthquake in Brazil.)

Crowd Control

My Living Colour memoir got me thinking about all the concerts Fox and I have been to.  We went to all kinds of shows, even camped out all night in the cold to get tickets.  We weren’t exactly groupies (well, not all the time), but we were … dedicated.

The thing about me and Fox at concerts is this: we would always get right up front at the stage … and then at some point Fox would decide to leave, to move to the back of the room.  I wouldn’t want to surrender my excellent position, so I’d wave goodbye and meet up with her after the show.

The other thing about me and Fox at concerts is this: Fox was always right to leave when she did.  I would wave her off, and almost immediately after she left, I’d find myself suffering as the crowd went to the dark side.

Fox has crowd sense.  Better than any I’ve ever seen or heard of.  She knows just the moment before a crowd is going to turn, when the dancing fans are going to cross over into an angry feral mob, when the drugged and drunk rowdies at a party are just about ready to turn on the other guests.  She’s like some kind of dousing rod for violence.

In my last experience of not listening when Fox said it was time to move, we were at a Midnight Oil concert.  We weren’t right at the front of the stage, but we were pretty close.  She left, I stayed.  The crowd got rough instantly.  Someone started punching me in the kidneys, I guess with the idea that if I went down, I’d be out of their sight line to Peter Garrett?  I tried to move away from the puncher, but people had rushed in so close to the stage I couldn’t move much in any direction.  Then someone hit me a whole lot harder, and I fell.   And people started kicking me.

I was pretty sure I would die on that floor.  I couldn’t move myself in any way that would help me get to my knees, help me find a way to stand.  I tried pulling into a fetal position, tried to protect my face, worried about Fox finding my body after the show.

Then there was a voice in my ear:  “Come with me.”

And a man was down next to me on the floor, putting his arms around me and pulling me up.  He gave me a quick once over to make sure I was ok.  And, impossibly, I was.  He leaned in close again to shout in my ear:

“What do you want to do?  I can keep you here next to me, or I can get you out.”

“Out, please.”

Two simple words, but I had no idea how that would happen when the crowd wouldn’t let us move forward or back.  He wasn’t much concerned.  “I’m going to pick you up,” he said, “send you out over everyone’s heads.”

(It should but may not be immediately evident from my photo on the Hey page: I am what some like to call a Woman of Size.  Picking me up is hardly a casual endeavor.  Passing me over the heads of a crowd?  Um … unlikely.   I didn’t argue with him, however.  He sounded sure that he could get me out, and I wanted to go.)

He announced his plan to the people around us and then, somehow, lifted me and set me off on a kind of dead-man’s float version of crowd surfing: I didn’t have the energy to lift my feet to keep my Blundstones from slamming into people’s shoulders and heads.  I just lay there, letting all those strangers’ hands move me toward the barricade at the front of the crowd where the security guards grabbed me, put me back on my feet and walked me off to the sidelines.

You would have to do some kind of fancy mind control to convince me that was a real man in that crowd and not Divine-Intervention-made-flesh, swooping in to save my life and then disappearing.  You know, like all good guardian angels do.

After that show, I promised Fox I’d always move when she sensed the crowd’s mood shift.  At the Living Colour/stun gun concert, when Fox called time, we went up to the balcony.  As we reached the upper level, the crowd below started grabbing people and slamming them to the floor … right in the spot where we’d just been standing.



is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers.

Get Your Vegan On

Tofurky Tatt

I thought I’d cleared everything from Rock Camp off my memory card, but then I found this. It’s a zoom-in on T’s upper arm.  I went to pick her up one night and found her covered in these! And, as you can see, not just any tattoo, Tofurky© tatts. Dotting both arms, across her neck at the collar bone … apparently someone had donated a huge box full, and the girls could have as many as they wanted. But … I mean … it’s Tofurky, for goodness sake. Not exactly the name I want emblazoned on my arm or neck, no matter how good it is for me. Shows what I know about vegan chic!

SOL: New Routine

Watch as I play The Grown Up.

Up early to get myself ready for work. Then: wake T and start making lunch, serve breakfast, comb T’s hair, finish making lunch while T gets dressed, get dressed while T plays with the cats, check T’s purse (metrocard? guitar pick? sunglasses? play phone? real phone numbers? few dollars for lunchtime crap game … I mean, you know, just in case), pack lunch boxes, turn off lights, find the tape roller for last-minute de-furring, head out to the bus stop, thumb-wrestle my way downtown, drop T at camp, get to work.

Can I just say, this level of having it together is so not me? I can barely get myself out of the house most mornings. I never make breakfast, only rarely figure out lunch.

A friend of mine once told me having to take care of children makes you responsible. I’ve seen plenty of evidence to the contrary, but suddenly acquiring a child has magically transformed me into this very attentive, on top of things person.

Even more shocking than the morning routine, is coming home at night and fixing dinner … I mean before 10:30, mind you. And making sure T brushes her teeth. And remembering to turn on the oven light (my things-I-didn’t-think-of stand-in for a night light) before putting T to bed.

I must stress again that it is often all I can do to tend myself. How am I so instantly able to see about T, to make sure all the pieces fall into place?

Tonight I actually managed to pull off a play date in Prospect Park. A play date, people. Six kids, snacks, water features, swings and jungle gyms, no injuries, no tantrums, just fun.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Dispatch from the Learning Curve

That’s me, on the steep, slippery slope of the curve, learning how to take care of a kid in a crash course, trial-by-fire, here-she-is-for-a-week kind of way. Childless folks, don’t try this at home.

Some things I’ve learned since Saturday at seventeen hundred hours:

My niece talks more an faster than I do, something I’d never imagined could be true. She loves dogs. She’s pretty strong for a slender, four and a half foot tall kid. She’s mostly calm and easy-going in new situations. She doesn’t wake up at the crack of dawn the way I thought all kids did. She knows stuff I just don’t imagine I would have known about as a kid (the price of gas, the evils of global warming, the relationship between gas-guzzling cars and the environment, the rules of football).

Today was the first day of Rock Camp. We rode and then walked over to the school and I dropped her off … and I have to admit that I had such a pang of sadness separating from her. I could tell she was nervous because she got quieter and quieter the closer we got to the school. Also, she was worried there was no way she could learn the electric guitar in a week (and form a band and write a song and be able to perform it …). I knew she’d be fine, but I really hated to leave her. I knew she’d be fine because she’s America’s most personable child and she makes friends easily, but still. I had to walk away from her in that big room full of kids she didn’t know, everyone looking a little shell-shocked and dazed, everyone unsure how to stand and what to do with their hands. The counselors all seemed confident and cool, which was decidedly reassuring, and as I walked out I passed a class with chairs in a circle and an electric guitar in front of each and I thought, “She’s going to have a blast.”

And she did have a blast. She was totally at ease by the end of the day when I went to get her (as were the other girls — kudos to the Rock Camp women for making that true). She talked … and talked and talked … and talked … and talked all night. As we waited for our ride after camp, she beat out the main riff from Smoke on the Water … though she had no idea what I was talking about when I named it. While I was on the phone with her grandmother, she was air-guitaring a quite comical Pete Townsend impersonation (though I’m sure she has not the first idea who PT is, either).

Her band — they are officially “LOL” now, complete with a band logo. They’ve got their song mostly hammered out, and they’re good to go. It sounds like too much fun.

Me? I am, as Baldwin wrote, “beat to my socks.” I can hardly keep my eyes open to finish this post. Only four more days … boy will I sleep on Saturday!