The Bad Boy
Geeze, I can't remember the name of the club. It was Denver. Two weeks Five (sometimes six!) sets a night, six nights a week. Two Hollywood agents had book us into a tour of Colorado, Washington and Montana. The agents, both corpulent men with bulbous eyewear, had misrepresented us as a Top 40 band. Which we were decidedly not. On the whole, the experience was dreadful.
But we were DIRECT FROM LA, even though we had been living their only a few months.
One mitigating factor was our assistant roadie, one Joey "Bad Boy" Mancuso. Only 18, he had signed on with us over the summer and moved to the City of the Fallen Angels with us as an adventure. Which it was. Joey, a sprite of a guy was simply a joy to be around. He worked hard, behaved unpredictably (hence the nickname), and buoyed our spirits every day.
He begged us to let him sit in on guitar. This also happened daily. The band hemmed and hawed a tad. Finally on our last night at the club, in the penultimate set, we gave Bad Boy the go-ahead. He raced back to our rooms, which were in a dank hotel basement next door.
He returned with a blousy, disco-type shirt and satin bellbottoms with glitzy embroidery. Platform shoes completed the outfit. We brought him up near the end of the set.
"Helping us out on guitar, here's the Bad Boy, Eric Clapton's rhythm guitarist!" Joey leapt onto the stage, and the band launched into a semi-rousing version of the Yardbirds' "I'm a Man." The song eventually breaks into a rollicking, double-time jam. Bad Boy did us proud. Using a slide on the neck and a wah-wah pedal, he started wailing. The audience caught on, and crowded the dance floor, clapping in wild appreciation. Joey was height challenged enough that our guitarist and bassist arched their guitars over him as a showcase.
Bad Boy was a natural; he looked as if he had been doing this for years. He made the right faces, hair flying, working the females in the crowd with flamboyant cuteness. No one seemed to notice that he had been at the club every night as our roadie for two weeks. Crowds will believe, seemingly, anything they hear over a microphone. The rest of the band played it straight.
Despite calls for more, Bad Boy quickly exited the stage and hid out back at the motel.
One fan came up to Larry, our killer lead guitar player. "Y'all guys were good, but that Bad Boy!"
Joey came back with us the next to day to load the van and head for Butte.
The coolest part: Bad Boy Mancuso couldn't play a lick of guitar.
The Banana Divorce
Includes blue language. It's the only way I can relate it. Deal with it, okay?
I had just stopped in the WaWa to pick up some stuff. As I walked in, I saw a ramshackle station wagon park near me. The vehicle had Florida plates. Packed to the gills with luggage, lamps, golf clubs and other effluvia.
A couple dismounted. In their early 60s, I'd say. The woman sported a dour look, as if she had just smelled something off-putting. The husband wore a porkpie hat, Bermudas, knee socks and crinkly wingtips. He had a small, precise mustache.
Inside, the first words were hers, "LOOKIT THESE BANANAS, HARRY. IF THESE AIN'T THE MOST FUCKING SICKLY BANANAS I EVER SEEN! AND THE PRICE! MIGAWD!"
Harry, as calm as a mountain pond, said, "Dear. This is a convenience store. They are not known for fresh, reasonably priced produce. We just came here for your Virginia Slims, not bananas."
"HARRY, I DON'T GIVE A FLYING FUCK WHAT YOU SAY. THESE BANANAS SUCK. SO DOES CONNECTICUT! CAN'T EVEN BUY A DECENT FUCKING BANANA! JESUS! MAKE SURE THEY GOT THE THE MENTHOL LIGHTS!"
Zarim, the affable clerk, said something in Farsi. Harry and I gleaned that Virginia Slim Menthol Lights were not on the menu. I could feel the heat of the woman's seethe.
"NO FUCKING CIGARETTES, EITHER. WHY THE FUCK DID I EVER COME HERE WITH YOU, HARRY? WE WERE FINE WITH MY SISTER IN FLORIDA!"
Harry raised his voice a scoche, still dapper, "We came here because we both hate your sister. And her mangy flea-ridden cats. And her layabout son. All in a trailer, Myra" His shoulders seemed to sigh a bit.
This was getting good, I thought. By now, the whole store was watching. City people were stifling giggles. Finally, Harry, too, spared a grin.
"YOU THINK THIS IS FUCKING FUNNY? I'LL TELL YOU HOW FUNNY IT IS! I'M LEAVING, RIGHT NOW! SO GO FUCK YOURSELF! USE A FUCKING BANANA."
With that, Myra marched out of the store. Ten customers, plus Zarim and I, crowded toward the door. Harry stayed back, a tight look on his face. She flipped up the wagon's tailgate and removed two huge suitcases. She lugged them to the bus stop, which was right in front of the store. As luck would have it, a city bus pulled right up. With tremendous effort, Myra clambered onto the jitney with her valises. In an angry huff of diesel, she and the bus were gone.
Everyone turned to look at Harry. Coakley Bridgeforth, with whom I had played Little League, said, "Whoa, Ace. Didja see that!"
Zarim said, "Iptha putamescu golorath." Or some thing to that effect.
And Harry? He burst into a little jig, smiling grandly. Thrusting his hands into the air, he said, "Thirty-two years, THIRTY-TWO YEARS I BEEN WAITING FOR THAT PILE A SHIT TO LEAVE ME!"
With that, everyone walked up to Harry, offering congratulations.
He asked me, "Is there a liquor store nearby?" I pointed him to one just two blocks away.
Smoothing his clothing (and mustache), Harry said, "Banana liqueur, I think."