by rugal b.
A golden age for Paris, but could it all be coming to an end?
|I exhaled deeply as I stepped off of the stage. No matter how many times I play, no matter how confident I think I’ve gotten, I still can’t stop that jittery feeling from working its way through me. It’s lessened over time and maybe it’ll even disappear some day; that’d be nice. But even here, a place I’ve played countless times over the past however many months, that nervousness is still there. But there are things, people really, who can make that go away if only for a minute.
My bandmates wanted to know if I was going to join them for drinks up at the bar but I demured. For one, though I’ve gotten used to alcohol I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of it. The taste is just so… eugh! But I can tolerate it if I have to. But that’s not the real reason, rather I spotted someone and decided that talking to them was a little more important right now. They understood of course and I promised I’d get back with them when I could. Urgent business needed to be taken care of first.
Robbie barely had time to get out the first syllables of a greeting before I grabbed her hands, pulled her in and gave her a nice kiss. Not quite long and deep but not a peck either.
“Wow, you’re in a mood. You didn’t get it out of your system last night?”
“Ah, well, I’ve probably still got a bit left,” I said in a bad attempt at being seductively coy. “But no, I just didn’t think you were coming out. You said you had family commitments or something.”
“First off, you are really bad at the whole coquette thing.”
“You like it when I’m bad, don’t you?” I smirked.
“You’re really good at killing my sex drive though so if that’s what you’re trying to do then props, you’re a master.” She looks at me, her face set in the judging amusement that seems to be her default. We both immediately start cracking up. “Anyway,” she says as she regains her composure, “plans fell through.”
“Uh huh, in other words you just didn’t want to come out here.”
“Who wouldn’t love hanging out in a ruined building with dead bodies under the floor run by criminals in a sketchy part of town?”
“Only four of those things are correct you know. It’s perfectly safe.”
“Paris, there was an honest to god neanderthal playing bouncer.”
“Grok is very good at his job.”
“When he’s dragging me off by my hair I’m going to curse your name.”
We started laughing once again. This is why Robbie is so good at calming my nerves. She has the wonderful ability to take very little seriously while being armed with a seemingly endless amount of snark. She knows how to get me laughing and pick my spirits up. It’s because of her that I’m here right now and because of her that things are looking good for the band.
But then it’s also working my nerves as well. Not because of her, but the success that the band is having. It’s exciting, of course, and way beyond anything I ever could’ve thought when it started. I thought we’d still mostly be playing these little dumb, practically free shows out at the Warehouse but we’re doing other places around town and getting paid! Not a lot but it’s something. But it goes beyond that.
“Hey, so did your sister ever make it out?” Robbie asked.
“Yeah,” I nodded. “I talked to her before I went on and she’s skulking around here with her boyfriend.”
“Kind of surprised. She doesn’t seem like the type to come out to a place like this.”
Robbie’s eyes narrow (and they’re already squinty). “You’re supposed to be the smart one, right?” she asks.
“Want to go for a seconds then?”
“Fuck off,” I said while trying not to crack up. “Anyway, you heard about Nancy right?”
“What about her?”
“Pregnant,” I answered. “She told us last night after the show. Shayna was telling me earlier that she’s going to try and play for as long as she can but she’ll probably have to take time for a while.”
“Well that’s… something,” Robbie replied in obvious shock. “She and Lyle aren’t married are they?”
“Engaged, he proposed on her birthday. They’re waiting until he’s done with school to actually do it. He’s doing an internship at Proteus right now I think and he’s probably got a good shot at landing a job there after he graduates. At least that’s what Shayna told me.”
“Still though pregnant at, what, nineteen?” she asked though it was more of a statement than a question. “Sucks for Sienna and Nadine too. Have they said what they’re doing?”
“Nuh uh,” I said as I shook my head. “I’m guessing they’re probably going to look for someone to fill in for a little bit though. Sienna would dive into a wood chipper before she’d stop playing.”
I know from her tone that Robbie was thinking this was nuts and she was probably right. It’s definitely a big change in what’s looking to be a pretty chaotic time.
I guess it’s been a little chaotic all year though. I was with Yell and her band for a while last year but wound up leaving back in March for a few reasons, none of them to do with Yell or the rest of them because they’re all amazing and even now she’s a great mentor for someone like me though I don’t know if she thinks of herself as being one.
But first among those reasons is simply that, while I was damn good at playing the keyboard (considering the years and years of piano lessons, I should be), I really was wanting to play guitar which I couldn’t really do there. Plus it was coming up on the end of the year and graduation for the seniors like Yell so I’d feel a little awkward still being in the band, especially because you kind of “age out” of the Warehouse once you graduate. Nobody wants to end up like Matt Reston after all.
The most important reason, though, is what happened to Tiger Driver. I guess the other guys got bored and drifted out so it was just Jody who still wanted to keep it going.
I looked into it since I was playing bass in the jazz band at the time. So there was me and then Luke Romero who’s in the marching band and, I mean, he plays a drum there too but this guy can, like, really play the drums! There was also Shayna Offerman, Lyle’s sister, who I guess just played bass in her spare time for fun or something but she’s good too.
So we fiddled around for a bit, looked to see what worked. I wound up taking the lead guitarist spot while Jody officially became rhythm guitarist but there’s been plenty of times where we’ll trade off who’s lead and who’s rhythm. Shayna had the better voice so she took over singing. The music style changed a bit, we started adding a few more jazzy elements here and there.
We wound up changing the name of the band too, enough had changed that we weren’t really Tiger Driver. So we looked around in stuff, came across the term Monophysite, liked it and went with it. Robbie would later say that if people asked we should say it was because we had one nature: kicking ass. She can be a bigger dork than me some times.
But it’s fun because we kind of do our own thing musically. Some times we’ll even get some help from people in, like, the marching or jazz bands. We like having that fluidity. Since I’m in good with Yell, that also gives us a ton of ins so we play shows with her and Sienna’s bands a lot.
It also gave me an in with Robbie. She’s into the whole theater and art scene so she’s always thought Yell was cool and I guess it was me playing with her and then doing my own band that really got her attention and I am so glad for it! I’ve had all these weird little crushes and some big ones (I saw Jenny Ashton the other day at Milagro and thought I was about to die) but Robbie… I totally love her. She helps us out first off, doing these cool poster designs for some of our gigs and we even did, like, a small EP on CD (remember those) and she did the art for it.
But more than that, it’s like I said she gives me confidence. She believes in me and supports me and is never anything but encouraging. Short of my sister, she’s my biggest backer and biggest source of strength and without her I don’t think I’d have had the fortitude to keep going and keep pushing even while I’m having fun. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to see anything bigger for myself. The others? They’d totally go far (and Shayna being so cute really doesn’t hurt things for us or her).
But I’d never had that confidence in myself and even now I still have to work at it. But Robbie’s always there so I know if she believes in me then I’m doing something right and can keep going.
Which is why everything going so great is starting to make me really, really anxious.
“Hey, so it’s official with Yell’s band too,” I said after leading Robbie off to a booth in a quieter (for a given value of quiet) part of the Warehouse.
“So you know how I said that she was telling me how her band put that, like, cheapo music video they made on Youtube right? But it got some buzz and, like, they started seeing a spike in downloads and plays and whatever on their other places? And they were getting offers to do some gigs out of town?”
“Yeah,” she replied nodding.
“Well, like, I guess they’re going to be doing it. Like through December, they’re doing a bunch of gigs around the state and even a couple the next state over.”
“Oh, wow. That’s pretty cool!”
“Well, here’s where it gets crazier,” I said before taking a breath. “Yell and KC want us to do some of those last shows with them over Christmas break. Like the last one they’re doing out of state, then the last couple that are in state.”
“Holy shit, Paris!” Robbie exclaimed and damn near jumped in excitement. “That’s so cool! You’re doing it right?! You have to do it!”
“I know, but...” Ashamed, I looked downward at the table and began twiddling my thumbs nervously. “I’m nervous about doing it if I do. Like, it’ll open up a lot of doors for us but it’s just… I’m worried it’ll kind of be the end of everything. Like if next year we’re doing more stuff out of town or even state state that’s going to be a huge change and it’d probably separate me from everyone. You know, Pey and… and...”
“Me,” she finishes my thought.
“Right,” I nod. “I just don’t want to be separated from anyone, but especially not from you. I love you and, like, I just don’t know if I’d be able to do it without you.”
“Paris,” she says in a more serious tone than I’m used to hearing from her, “look at me. I love you too, a lot. But this is still a high school romance right?”
“Look, I’d love it if we could, like, stay together forever and a few years from now we have this big awesome rainbow super gay wedding in total defiance of God and the natural order of things. But we both have to realize that might not happen and it could all end too. That’s how it usually goes.”
“I don’t want it to. I don’t even want to consider it.”
“I don’t either but, I don’t know, I guess I have to accept that it could maybe, possibly happen. If it happens because you were able to actually do something with your music and get all successful then I’d throw myself to the wolves to make it happen for you.”
“Paris, you are, like, crazy talented. You’re so good and you totally deserve to succeed and if I can help you in any way I can I’ll do it.”
“That means you’d be willing to sacrifice our relationship?”
“That means what I said. If you have to drop me to move on, then do it. But if you can do it with me at your side, then I’ll do everything I can for you. I don’t want to just toss everything away, you dummy; but I don’t want you to toss everything away either.”
She gave me a playful knock on the head and I began to smile in spite of myself. “There’s Pey too,” I said. “It feels like we’ve been kind of growing apart this year and I don’t really know what to think. I’d hate to think that I’d lose her too in all of this.”
“Siblings, even twins, separate,” she shrugged, “but you’ve still got, you know, that sisterly bond. And that weird creepy psychic thing twins have because you guys are just total freaks. But I mean, she loves you and she’d want to know you were succeeding as well.”
I honestly wanted to cry at that, at everything she said. You know, crying in joy and all of that because she was totally right? But like hell I was going to show weakness in front of a monster like her so instead I stood up and walked around to where she was. “Hey, let’s get out of here,” I said as I leaned in.
I didn’t really say anything else, just leaned in and gave her a kiss. This one much deeper and much more passionate than the first. I pulled back and I could see the look on her face. I don’t normally get all aggressive and assertive like that but when I do…
Robbie wanted to say something, make some kind of smart-ass comment but all she could do was giggle shyly as I grabbed her hand and helped her stand up. I send an apologetic group text to my bandmates telling them I’ve got to go and then lead her out to my car assuming that she got a ride here since this late on a Saturday, no way was she going to get here any other way than by car pool.
You could say that I was going to get lucky again tonight but really I’m lucky every day. I’ve got great friends, a great band, I have my sister and everything’s looking amazing in the future. Of course it could all just be a nice little golden age before falling apart.
I have confidence that it won’t because I’ve got Robbie. I don’t know if I can live up to her expectations but as long as she believes in me then I can give it my best shot.
* * * * *