Monday, February 18, 2008

Three Funerals and a Wedding

Two days after the band meeting in which we decided to find a new drummer, my brother Rev. Bunny graduated from TCU. I rode down to Ft. Worth with my parents and grandparents but ended up riding back home with my brother's friend Randy. As my journal records: "We had a nice chat. He suggested {Big A} as a drummer. He dated {Big A's} sister." That was May 12, 1984.

Rev. Bunny arrived home the next day, and I remember asking him about Big A. "Yeah, he's a good little drummer. I've heard him playing down in their basement." Now Rev. Bunny had been a high school friend of Big A's sister, so the "little" part was more of a memory than a current description, but still it was a positive endorsement.

Now for the complication. As if things weren't going to be complicated enough because of the Toy. I had also been talking to Matus, a new friend of mine and a longtime friend of Big A's, about trying out for the band.

We arranged to hold auditions at the First Presbyterian Church in the very room, as chance would have it, that had been Big A's Kindergarten room. As I remember it, Big A was going to play first, then I would call Matus, who lived close by, and he would come play. I'm pretty sure they were meant to be on the same day- May 19, 1984.

The first song we tried with A was the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog", and to this day I remember Mookie playing the three-chord guitar intro and A's drums coming in with a shubba-dup shubba-dup bubba-dubba-dubba-dubba on his tri-toms. We only played one other song (lost to history?) when Jimmy Fred invited him to be in the band. I recorded "{Big A} is very, very good" and added with no further comment "{Matus} was going to perform for us, but I guess we've got {Big A}."
Jimmy Fred, seven or eight years our elder, had a lot of influence in the band. He was in a hurry to go somewhere, he liked Big A's drumming, and didn't want to wait around to try out anyone else.

Matus was, understandably, upset and remained so for years. And years.

Still Jimmy Fred's decision was a good one-- not only because Matus left that summer and the next few consecutive summers for music camp in Illinois, but also, as many of you know, Big A is STILL playing drums with what is very arguably just an evolved version of that same band almost 24 years later, and he quickly became a very near and dear friend. We are working on our third decade of shared memories, but the friendship is still fresh.

Alas, the story of the day is not over. From my journal:

At home, as our dog Rommel was causing much confusion by killing a squirrel in the back yard, the Toy came by wearing a tophat and asked to borrow my black shoes for the prom tonight.

Upstairs he asked, "So how long have ya'll been planning to kick me out?"

"About two weeks."

"Who is my replacement?"

"Big A."

"I'll have you know that the one who wants to kick me out the most knows fewer lyrics than I do and isn't there 40% of the time."

"Well." silence "How did you find out?"

"Oh, the rumor is running rampant out at EOC." (where both Toy and J.Fred worked)

"I'm sorry you had to find out like this." silence "We'd like to keep you on singing back ups."

"F--k that!"


long, long silence

(Toy, talking about the shoes) "I'll get these back to you Monday."


Then I went outside and saw my grandfather using a baseball bat to adminster the coup de grace to the mangled squirrel. Afterwards, I took a shovel and buried it.

That night was the prom, which started out well but the ending of which might well qualify as the fourth disaster of the day.

The one bright spot-- getting Big A into the band--- outshone all the other events of the day, the title of this entry notwithstanding, for it was chosen more for its seeming wittiness than for its accuracy.


Big A said...

Wow, I'd forgotten that Randy really was the origin of our playing music together. I'll have to thank him for that....

Seems it was destiny now, but all poor Big A knew at the time was that Po had a band that needed a drummer, and maybe I could come play....

I wondered why Matus seemed a bit upset with me, but it wasn't until years later that I learned he was supposed to have auditioned that day in the preschool classroom as well. (That same place where he and I had originally become friends at age 4!)

I didn't know Toy then, so it never dawned on me that he might want to kill me. Later I heard that he wanted his flirtatious girlfriend to lure me out to the country where I would be beaten up.... around that same time I was told he might be bi-sexual and attracted to me. Needless to say, this was as unwelcomed as a beating, and I was uncomfortable around him for years. Poor Big A just wanted to play drums, not get glared at by the ex-drummer because he was dimissed so inhumanely!

Anyhow, I guess we all got over it. Not the tidiest of beginnings, but we were, after all, just a bunch of teenagers. It's been a pleasure all these years playing music, Toy never tried to kiss or kill me, and Matus and Po remain my bestest friends. Glad it worked out....


The Toy said...

All those years ago...

I was a miserable drummer then. It's almost funny that not only am I fairly solid drummer now 20 years after I traded my drum set in for a guitar, but that I was very recently put in the position of being recruited by my band to replace the drummer of the band that said drummer had helped me join as guitarist. There's a certain amount of irony there.

Be that as it may, Big A, not only was I straight, I can't imagine a world where I would have been attracted to you. :)

Though honestly, with that pony tail and all those strange getups I hear you want to wear at Dentones performances these days, I've had my doubts about you...

I also have no recollection of planning on luring you to the country, though I may have merely (and perhaps conveniently) repressed it. I didn't bear any animosity towards you directly, though I didn't particularly like you before I got to know you.

Bah, high school! Youth is wasted on the young, and all that. :)