Tag Archives: roadies

Holden: Some Songs and a Story

Holden. A fake name for a very real boy. The first time I remember seeing him was at Ace of Spades in Sacramento, California. I must have seen him the day before, because Sacramento was the second date of the tour, but my earliest recollection of Holden is watching him watch, in the dark corner of the black and red venue.

A few days ago I got done with a tour where I met a lot of wonderful people. People who I really didn’t want to say goodbye to, people who made me feel at home on the road and people who truly excited me. There is a lot to be said about last month, but this is not the time for that. While on the roof of some apartment in Los Angeles, I was discussing with one of the guy’s that I have become really good at letting people go, to which he responded, “that’s kind of fucked up.”

Maybe he’s right, but like I discuss in A Temporary Home, it comes with the lifestyle, and it’s necessary otherwise you’ll break your own heart. I’ve learned to recognize when someone is special, and just enjoy the little time that I do have with the person and when that time is up, you let them go. Sometimes though, I meet someone who makes that pretty fucking difficult. I did meet someone like that on this past tour, but like I said, it is not the time to tell that story. However, it did get me thinking about other people I have said goodbye to along the way, so in honor of retrospect, I am going to tell you about Holden, a boy I met on tour in the spring of 2014, and I haven’t seen or spoken to him since.

I’m not sure what my very first thought was when I saw him, but I had a few.

One, he’s drinking alone, which I liked. Well, kind of alone. As alone as you can be when you’re inside of the venue that you’re playing at that night. He would entertain some passing females for a few minutes here and there, and I could tell that he was smooth. I watched him do that thing where you casually place your hand on someone’s arm or side as you lean in to put your ear closer to them in an attempt at conversation in a loud venue. That can be repulsive if a guy does it wrong, but I could tell he had that shit down. Even with his good moves though, he stayed leaning at this bar counter, and continue watching the show by himself and let the girls walk away.

Two, he looked like a douche.

Three, but an incredibly good looking douche. Now that I know him, I think that Holden is one of the most beautiful boys that I’ve ever met, but at first glance, I was sure that I was NOT going to like this guy despite his James Dean appearance. He had a piercing on his face, and just this look that kind of screamed, I’m trying. I was very wrong.

Four, there’s something else though. Something else must have ran through my mind because I still decided to say something to him. Maybe I figured that I was going to be on the road with this dude for four months, so I might as well get the first introductory conversation out of the way. He was not in the band that I was working for, so we were not on the same bus, but his band was the direct support, so we were still going to be traveling together (it was a four band tour package) for many months.

I had been watching this… couple(?) all night. I hesitate to say couple because I’m 90% sure that they were on a second date, or something close to that. I don’t know how to describe what this chick was doing, but it was one of the most embarrassing things that I have ever seen. Basically, she was trying to dance on this guy and be sexy, but just failing at it so hard. It looked like she was attempting to give a lap dance despite the fact that the guy was standing up. She kept trying to jump on him, and then dry hump him I guess…? It was such a catastrophe. I was literally laughing out loud at this brilliant sight, but there was no one else who seemed to be witnessing it.

Like I’ve said many times, I hate small talk, so I figured I’d use this moment to speak to Holden so we could skip the formalities and dive straight into making fun of people together. Holden was about 15 feet away from my merch table, so I motioned to him to come over. The very first thing I said to him was something like, “Have you seen this couple over here?”

Holden: “The dancing chick?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Holden: “Oh I’ve been watching them all night,” he said with a lot of enthusiasm.

I fucking liked him immediately. I was so unprepared for him to have the same sense of humor as me, and to be on the exact same page as I was in that moment that I was kind of taken aback. As much as I hate talking, I am generally pretty good at conversation IF I decide to make an effort, but in those first moments with Holden, I did stumble a bit.

During the course of the tour, we went on to become fairly close. I don’t know that I have ever been so attracted to someone who I didn’t need to kiss. It was weird, I felt like I had a crush on him, but it was a very platonic type of crush. If that can even be a thing. I didn’t want to be with him and didn’t think about holding his hand or kissing him or fucking him or any of those things that you think about when you are into someone. But, he did kind of make me nervous, and I loved being around him. So I don’t know what the fuck to call how I felt about Holden. A “platonic crush” is the only thing I can come up with.

In a way, I think everyone kind of had a crush on him. I even heard the English Hooligan describe him as a “sweetheart” once, which I have never heard him call anyone else before or since. My fondness for him was no secret. I would regularly announce, “I’m in love with Holden,” to everyone (including him a couple of times I think) when I would see him by himself playing an arcade game, or sitting on the ground smoking a cigarette with a strand of hair falling into his face River Phoenix style, and those times when he said, “one second,” and then would walk a few feet away from us, vomit, and then turn right back around and join the circle again laughing, and take another shot of whiskey. Holden turned liquor into his bitch. It was outstanding. With that being said, that boy had some demons.

When you yourself are haunted, I think it’s pretty easy to spot another soul who is drowning in their own poison. On an afternoon in Philly, we ducked into a bar for a couple of beers, and he told me some of his tale which I won’t repeat here because it felt private, but I could feel that part of his past was eating him alive. But my God, he was such a beautiful disaster.

Holden is the type that somehow makes self-destruction look glamorous. I know that is terrible to say, but unfortunately, often times most interesting characters are the ones that are at constant war with themselves. I don’t want to make it sound like he was some depressive basket-case. He was always in a good mood and was always a good time, but I have a sixth sense about these things, and I could just tell that there was a lot going on underneath the surface. I used to love watching Holden on stage. Him and one of the guitar players would always smile at each other, and I’d often see them laughing about something, and it just looked like they were having so much fun. He belongs on stage.

I have this random memory of him, and it’s so seemingly insignificant that I don’t know why it stuck with me. We had a day off, so a few of us took a boat and jet ski out. We were out in the middle of the water and someone would take the jet ski for a few minutes, come back to the boat, and switch riders. EVERY TIME the new rider would drive away, they would unintentionally splash those of us on the boat with the fountain of water that jet skis create out the back. Even though everyone knew that this happened, and despite that they all tried to get far enough away so that the splash wouldn’t hit anyone, it did every time. Except when Holden got on. He was the only one who got the jet ski far enough away so that he didn’t splash anyone before taking off. That might seem minor, but for some reason it stuck with me.

Holden had good taste in music too. One of the very first conversations we had, one of the things that got brought up was the local music scene in the town where he is from. I asked him to make me a recommendation of a local, and he almost immediately said, “John Moreland.” I liked that he answered me so quickly. Often when you ask someone to give you a music recommendation on the spot, they shy away from the question.

So, I listened to John Moreland that night, and I fell in love with him, which made me fall in love with Holden. “Break My Heart Sweetly” is possibly the saddest song I have ever heard, and it seems oddly appropriate that I heard it due to Holden. It’s always sexy when the very first thing that someone tells you to listen to really hits home. It feels like you’ve found a kindred spirit. He went on to consistently give me good music recommendations, which brings me to the conclusion of this vignette. My retrospection of Holden inspired me to make a playlist. So this one is for Holden, the boy who broke my heart sweetly during the spring of 2014, and I’m so fucking glad that he did.

http://8tracks.com/goldenlullaby/raise-your-glass-to-retrospection

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The Adventures of Touring – A Christmas Story

Often when I tell people that I’ll be spending Christmas on the road, they give me the sad face. In a half of a second expression, I read their thoughts which are clearly saying, Aw, you poor little gypsy girl with no stability, no presents and no family to bake christmas tree shaped sugar cookies with. Fuck that. I began enjoying Christmas the year that I stopped giving a shit. I’m no Grinch, I love Christmas, I just believe that people put way too much pressure on holidays with their empty traditions and obsession with consumerism.

I would roughly guess that it was 2006 when my Dad hit me with one of his very many wise thoughts. He essentially said that he doesn’t stress over buying presents because he would never want anyone to stress over buying him presents. While that doesn’t sound particularly profound, it definitely changed my outlook. I hated that panicky feeling that consumed the days leading up to Christmas when you still had presents to buy but you don’t know what to buy and time is running out. When my Dad said that, I realized that I truly would rather NOT receive a present than have anyone stress over what to buy me for a holiday. I think for the past 8 birthdays, my dad has simply given me a card and a six-pack of beer. Like father like daughter.  I’m now the same way.  Unless I know exactly what gift I want to get someone, I just don’t worry about it.  Or I’ll make a donation in their name.  I’m a pretty big nay-sayer of gaudy consumerism, so I like giving charity gifts.

Excuse my rant that is only slightly related to my original topic, which is to tell you how my 2014 Christmas went, and to set the record straight about holidays on the road. Sure, they can be lonely if you let it, but here is why it doesn’t have to be.

Christmas Eve started like any other show day. We loaded into the venue at 6:00am, I did a baby wipe shower in the lobby bathroom and applied some make-up and attempted to not let my hair look like a bee hive, but I stopped with that attempt when I remembered that I hadn’t washed my hair in five days so there was no helping that mess. I broke down a couple pallets and went back and forth between the stage and lobby with two hand-trucks and gave a guarded to smile and a coy comeback to the stage hands who insist on making some of type of chivalric comment about a female doing any type of manual labor. Then I took a nap on the lobby floor.

Me and lobby floors have a special relationship.

Me and lobby floors have a special relationship.

I woke up to the children in the lobby and decided to document the mild absurdity of the fact that our photographer/videographer who I will call Monterey; his job is to take pictures of little girls in tu-tu’s everyday. He appreciates the humor in this as well.

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We had two early shows that day, so load out happened earlier than usual, meaning that we had time to go drink. We started on the bus, as Monterey took one for the team and walked to a liquor store and brought back some christmas cheer. He got us all bottles and then also got some mini bottles that I’d like to think of as stocking stuffers. We didn’t have stockings, so a dirty tupperware would have to do.

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Then we all went to The Griffon, the best bar in Charleston and coincidentally, where we went last year at Christmas. A new, unconventional tradition. Last year, we were just about the only people in that place, so we hit it off real well with the bartender, whose name is Ben, and chatted it up with him while we drank our Christmas spirit into existence. This year, we went back to the same spot, and Ben was still there and he miraculously remembered us.

The Griffon

The Griffon

So It felt good to be back at the same place with the same individuals on Christmas Eve. Sitting next to Sue, as she told me about her ex husband, and sitting next to Monterey as we bullshitted about the geography of the middle east in relation to psychology, sitting with Laura as she shares her love for Gone with the Wind and sitting amongst all seven of us as we discussed what kind of drink each person would be (we decided Lucy is peppermint moonshine, Monterey is a mint julep, A-dog is an IPA and no one could come up with what I would be) and sitting across from Ben as he filled us with christmas cheer (a.k.a. liquor), it felt good to be in that dive bar with a makeshift family celebrating Christmas Eve like a band of misfits.

Somehow we all made it back to the bus alive and I woke up to nothing other than a truck stop on Christmas morning. I think that is wildly appropriate and semi ironic considering my life this past year. I was not complaining because I love shitty gas station coffee and I even treated myself to a splash of the machine made peppermint mocha in my luke warm holiday coffee. Merry Christmas to me.

I am almost always the first one awake, so I try to be quiet in the mornings while I get my start. I was absolutely still drunk, as it was 7:00am, and I was thinking oh fuck… here comes the part where you need to spend 15 minutes trying to get your life back in order from the night before. Nope. Everything was exactly in its right place. I love when that happens. More often than not when I’m wasted, the next morning I am consistently impressed with myself that I did not lose anything, and even managed to get my coat, boots and phone in the same exact place that they always are. I felt I deserved a high-five for that one. No one was awake yet though, so I settled for an inner congratulatory on being a professional drinker. A-dog and Monterey both woke up in a panic that morning, thinking that they left their phones at The Griffon. Anyway, I got my coffee and beef jerky and sat in the jump seat while we cruised down I-95 in the rain and finished the novel, “Half Broke Horses” until Monterey and Sue woke up at around 8:30.

Merry Christmas! Shots? Yes please! We dug into the stocking stuffer basket and the three of us did a shot of whiskey for breakfast while flipping through the television channels to find the station that plays A Christmas Story for 24 hours.

Then the waiting game. It was a day off, so that means we get a hotel room. We arrived at the hotel around 10:00am, and rooms were not ready, so we sat on the bus and waited while taking a consistent flow of shots from mini dixie cups while still in our pajamas and listening to terrible christmas carol covers.

Keepin' it classy.

Keepin’ it classy.

We were all too disgusting and hung over to try to do anything more serious than going to 7-11 before getting a shower. Monterey and I managed to get a load of laundry done, which was the one appropriately domestic thing we did that day considering that it was christmas and the general public is participating in mostly domestic behaviors while we fight over junk bunk space and brush our teeth using water bottles. So Monterey and I sifting through laundry together, getting excited about detergent pods and bantering in bunk alley about whose shoes smell worse was a true domesticated christmas event.

Once showers were accomplished, we went to go see a movie, because what the hell else are you going to do on Christmas? Then we got back to the bus and drank a bottle of champagne from the bottle (we’re too gangster for glassware) as he taught me about the “Rossi Toss” and we listened to Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Him and I have discussed so much over the tours that I can’t believe we still find new subjects to talk about. He’s a true rarity. Without a doubt, one of the most intelligent people I know and can absorb information in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. I think he may have a photographic memory… or something close to it. He knows a lot about a lot, so the conversational possibilities are endless. I know a little about a lot of things, which is one quality that I think gives me the ability to be able to talk to just about anyone, but Monterey knows A LOT about a lot. So a quick stop at the bus before continuing on with our night, turned into an hour and a half conversation over a bottle of champagne that came in a fitted champagne koozie.  Brilliant.

The crew had originally planned to all be together on Christmas night, but on this particular tour, the girls always end up doing their own thing, and then I end up with the boys and we just end up going to a bar.

Somehow on this night, Monterey and I got separated from the pack, so him and I went to the beach for dinner. It was great. If anything, it was a really nice christmas present to not be in the freezing cold for a change. We were in South Florida because the show the following day was in Miami. We’ve been on tour mostly up in the northern states, and it’s been friggen cold, so the beach and shorts for christmas was very welcoming to us all. Sand is not Monterey’s thing, but he sucked it up while I frolicked on the shore and splashed around in the water underneath the moonlight. I needed to get that out of my system and he was a good sport about it. More drinks. More laughs. More conversations. Bus. Pass out. And that was Christmas. It was a good one.

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I missed my family and I do feel guilty sometimes about never being home, mostly because of my sister, but I think that the Christmas season should just be about enjoying people rather than things and that’s exactly what I did. While it felt like a normal day off while on the road, it was a particularly good day off. I didn’t have a christmas tree, gifts were not exchanged and there were no homemade dinners and pies, but I did have a great friend by my side, a bottle of champagne, the beach and some good laughs… and who needs more than that?

“He who has not christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”

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Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 10

A very wise person I know, while speaking of life while touring, once said that days off are for laundry and pretending like you have friends.  Yes, sir.  He is absolutely right.  As I have stated many times in the past, everyone who makes their living by being on the road is an absolute lunatic.  I blame laundry for part of this.  Fuck laundry.  Things like laundry, brushing your teeth and changing clothes, which are simple tasks in the normal world, are a goddamn nightmare as a roadie.

Depending on what type of tour you’re on, some of the venues provide laundry machines, but if you’re at a venue, that means you’re at work, and laundry gets skipped on the priority list.  So, when we have a day off, a “shower room” is booked.  All this means is that we park the bus at a hotel, and use one of the rooms to take turns showering.  I’d like to add to my friend’s wise words, that days off are also for pretending like you know what’s going on in the world.  During my few minutes of privacy for showering, I also take advantage of a functioning television (bus tv’s seem to be non-functional half of the time.  I’m not complaining however, I live at home without a tv), and flip to CNN or MSNBC (because Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow are sexy) and attempt to catch up on current events.  Oh!  We’re still talking about the Malaysian plane?!  Fucking sweet!  I haven’t missed out on much!  Anyway, we also use the hotel for laundry amenities but why… I have no idea.

I don’t know why that EVERY SINGLE TIME we stroll up to a hotel and I begin laundry, that I honestly believe that this errand will only take an hour and a half.  I figure 30 minutes wash and 45 to dry… plus in and out time.  This formula never happens.  Why I have not adjusted the formula… I don’t know.  I need to take 30x+45y=forever.  Basically, there is no constant in the laundry formula, only variables.  Hotels that state they have laundry, could mean that they have exactly one washer and one dryer and both don’t work.  We were staying in a hotel that must have had 1,500 rooms, I swear to God I’m not exaggerating.  It was huge.  And they had exactly one washer and one dryer.  I thought the Mexican Housekeeper whom I asked where more laundry was, just didn’t understand me, so like an asshole, I kept repeating, “No, where in the entire hotel is there more laundry?” ASSUMING that each of the six buildings on the property had laundry.  Nope.  Well fuck me.  I had to wait for some gross pre-teen traveling basketball team to get their nappy neon colored uniforms out of the wash before I could discover that the washer didn’t spin anyway.  It simply filled with water, and made the sounds like it was spinning, but didn’t actually spin.  Awesome.

I proceeded to rinse the clothes by hand out of a fucking garden hose that I luckily found outside, and then hang my shit to air dry on the bus windshield wipers and bay doors.  (Tip for fellow roadies!  Lay wet stuff next to the generator under the bus.  It dries in half the time).  If you pass by a tour bus that has a Deftones t-shirt, aerie underwear and levi’s decorating the outside, honk because it’s probably me and my bad luck.  I’ll be the girl outside, drinking a beer that I didn’t originally want, but now feel I deserve, due to this laundry fiasco that has turned into an entire afternoon.

To add to the days off quote, “pretending like you have friends” means, call all of the amazing people in your “real life” that have been trying to get a hold of you, but you have not been able to answer because the music is always so effing loud that there is no point in attempting a conversation.  Calling for casual conversation on the bus doesn’t happen either, because you’re then forcing everyone to listen to your talk.  But!  Calling on a day off, even though that is on the “things to do” list, it often get skipped because you had to take so much time doing bullshit like laundry, finding a nearby Wells Fargo and paying bills online.  This is no excuse.  You’re still an asshole because you probably could have called them on a working day when you had that free half of an hour… but you didn’t because you’re too busy going for a walk or grabbing lunch at a local place so that when someone asks you if you’ve been to fucking Paducah, KY  you can say yes and not feel like it’s a lie.  “Oh yeah!  Paducah!  I went into this coffee shop there for five minutes once.  It was great!”  When we get to a new city and I don’t leave the venue (which happens more often than not) I don’t feel like I have actually been to the city.

So, days off in the touring world are designated to laundry, current events, washing hair, not calling friends/family and inevitably walking around a mall because there’s nothing else nearby to do.

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Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 9

One of the most interesting things about the touring lifestyle, is that you get to know people backwards.  You meet them, and then are living together, so you learn about their weird nuances before you learn about the basics.  For example, I’ve been on the road with this band for about three weeks.  The drummer, who I know well enough to know that he is simply a beautiful human being, I only learned yesterday that he is from Washington.  However, I know that he puts way too much french vanilla “International Delight” in his coffee, I know that he can roll a joint in less than 30 seconds, and I know what he looks like in the morning.  I knew all of this before I knew where he friggin lives.

Our lead singer, who is ironically the most quiet person on the bus, I only just learned is fucking married.  I knew that he wears Spiderman pj’s to bed, and that he only enjoys reading non-fiction books and that he puts vaseline on  his neck everyday, but I didn’t even know that he is married.  I knew what The female lead singer looks like crying, before I even knew what her last name was.  I know that she buys cute red underwear by the pack and that she wears her hair in braids to bed, but I still have no idea if she even has any brothers or sisters.

I know that Marco, the bass player, throws EVERYTHING away.  He wakes up in the morning, and if your stuff looks like it could be even remotely parishable, he tosses it if it is in his path.  I know that he has intestinal problems, and stays up until 5am playing video games, but I don’t even know if his parents are alive or if he has a girlfriend.  My point, you get to know people backwards.

On the road, everyone is at their worst.  I look like a goddamn scrub everyday.  While I am normally into looking good, busting out some black heels on occasion and attempting to be attractive… on the road, that doesn’t exist.  So these people know me on a whole different level than most.  I normally keep to myself, and I’d say that I have a lot of secrets.  After knowing this crew for only two weeks, they know things about me that my best friends don’t even know.  They know that I like eating oatmeal out of a mug, that I only wash my hair every four days, that I wake up every morning at 4:00am and read for two and a half hours because I can’t sleep.  They know that my toenails are too long, that I don’t wear bras and that I am a badass with a box-cutter, but I don’t even think they know how to spell my first name.  They probably don’t know that I have a sister, or what I went to college for, and they definitely don’t know if I am in love or if I ever have been… but they know that I had a fucking anxiety attack just from being back in LA for a day, and they know that I can drink a pint of whiskey and have little side effects.

Touring is a weird existence… but I love it.  Let me know if you have any questions about the lifestyle!

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Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 8

Back on the road, with a metal band this time.  Although it’s not exactly my kind of music, I am in love with them because they are just such good people.  We are the headliner’s, but there are three other bands on the tour package.  The second band on the bill, is a metal band from NYC.  After load out the other night, I was chatting with them outside of the buses, and they invited me onto their bus to smoke.  Mind you, I very rarely smoke weed, but I figured why not?  I can’t even remember the last time I did, and it would be a fun bonding session.  On to the back lounge.  If you’ve ever been on a tour bus, you know that the back lounge is a tiny little maybe 6×6 room.  There were seven of us crammed in there passing around joint after joint.  They also had some sort of other smoking contraption which they passed it to me and I was like, “I don’t even know what to do with that thing…” so I stuck with the joint.  I only took two hits because like I said, I don‘t smoke often so two and I am golden.  Well, being in that hot box… two and I was retarded.

Some sort of banter took place, where the word “fag” was thrown in.  I hate that word, so I may have literally cringed.  The lead singer (who is the one who invited me to this session) went along to say, “I’m just kidding… we’re LGBT friendly here.  He (pointing to the sound guy) is transgender and I’m post-op.”  WHAT?!  Now, let’s rewind and let me try to paint you a picture.  These are metal dudes.  Haven’t showered in days, silver rings on every finger, PBR drinking, buy coke from groupies, has a different girl everyday, DUDES.  So here I am, HIGH AS FUCK, trying to figure out if these two guys used to be girls.  They are all being fun high people, laughing… carrying on, and I am just trying to not to lose my goddamn mind.  I could not keep up with their conversation at all.   So now, along with attempting to not freak out and pretend to know what the fuck they’re all talking about, I’m also looking for clues.  I was checking for adam’s apples’, feminine hands, breasts, looking at their crotches, etc.  Like a total asshole, I was just sitting there staring, trying to decide if he was just kidding, or if they were actually born females.  Then, the most masculine looking guy of them all, starts putting his head on the [supposed] transgender’s shoulder.  Now I’m really confused.  That’s cool if some gay romance is taking place, but hold on, if he was transgender, he’d be straight!  He would be into girl’s!  Yet he was letting this guy rest his head cutely on his shoulder.  Maybe it was just simple band commradere?  Maybe they’ve just spent so much time in close quarters together that a head on the shoulder is not a big deal.  Maybe?  Maybe they were just retarded high too?  But regardless, they are all incredibly hospitable and cool cool people.  Bus call approached, and I walked back to my bus.

My tour manager began giving me shit about hanging out with the “support band,” saying rubbish like, “You were concerned about appearing to be a lot lizard* last night, and yet you’re going back to the other band’s bus.”  I played into it at first because I thought he was kidding, so I went with the joke saying, “Yeah… I took all of them at once.”  After a minute or so, I realized that he was fucking serious.  He was actually irritated at me for hanging out with the other band!  I felt like saying, “would this even be an issue if I was a boy?” but, I was so high, that I was worried I was being paranoid.  Instead of standing up for myself, and calling him out for being a dick (which would be normal Caitlin behavior), I awkwardly said NOTHING and went into my bunk.  I decided to asses the situation in the morning when I was of sober state of mind.  Morning arrived, and I decided that 1.) My TM was in fact annoyed, but I was definitely blowing it out of proportion in my high mind that night.  2.) I could not have been more off in my absurd suspicions about the metal dudes once having vaginas.  Now that I know them even better than I did that night, I laugh out loud at the thought of me actually taking that notion seriously for an entire evening.  3.) I suck at being high.

*lot lizard- noun.  Truck stop whore.  Literally.

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