A planeload of tattoos

On the way to the RWA conference in Sydney it was a van full of elderly men. They were especially happy to have some little blonde female have to squeeze by to squish into a seat that was all the way at the back of the bus. Oh they checked me out, patted my hip, told me I could sit on their laps, and winked.

On the way back it was different. I shared my shuttle with a Greek family whose Ya-ya wore an overpowering gardenia perfume. 

Then came time to board my flight home. At first, it was a toss up between bikers and musicans because the Qantas lounge was full of long-haired dudes with serious tats.  Oh the tats…Dragons, Jesus, buff comic book chicks with comic book breasts, and snakes. There were a few snakes. 

I sat next to one. 

Once we finally boarded, I had a middle seat, in a sea full of musicans, road crew members and tech guys. To my left, in the aisle, was the sound engineer from Findlay, OH. On my right, at the window, was Dave ‘Snake’ Sabo, guitarist for Skid Row, songwriter, film score composer, former neighbour to Jon Bon Jovi, guy who,at 12 had one single manly-man hair on his chest.

Oh I got completely checked out. ME. I got checked out by all the crew. They popped up out of their seats like prarie dogs to scope me out–just like the old men on that shuttle bus–and gave me the thumbs-up. After a while the joking stopped, the cat calls ceased, the guys settled down, and I wound up have a fascinating conversation with Snake Sabo that ranged from marriage, friends, having children, taking care of family, to being the place were you feel most loved and valued.

Despite the tats and the rock and roll lifestyle he once lived, he was just a guy with nice manners, a down-to-earth man who no longer sports big 80’s hair, or drinks to excess, loves his mother, and knows the value of old friends. He gave me his card, invited me to see the show, and wished me luck with my writing.  

Our conversation made me think of a woman in my master’s class. She’s writing a novel about a woman who meets a rock musican. Snake was that musican come to life. 

So you know what I did? 

I strapped on my Katie-Sue armour (because she can talk to anyone) and asked Snake if I, or LB, could squeeze him for information and use that information as fodder for a novel or someone else’s novel. He pointed to the card I’d put in my pocket and said, “My email address is on the card.” 

Now that was just cool, especially considering I was never a Skid Row fan. Then this happened (and I hope to God I didn’t squeal), he said Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook are melodic geniuses he admires the hell out of! Which, to me, makes Snake very, very cool.

When the hitman comes he knows damn well he has been cheated

And he says… I bet you’re singing the next line, aren’t you? Yeah. You are. I know you are. .

I had to do it. I had to. It was Golden Earring, man! Golden Earring! Screw Elton John, It’s your song. 

That just happens sometimes, doesn’t it? You hear a song and suddenly you’re back in that 1980 Toyota Celica with one of your best mates, in the middle of a Michigan winter. The inside of the car smells like the boxed up pan pizza you couldn’t finish at Pizza Hut. You have the sun roof open, the heat blasting, and the stereo as loud as you can make it. Golden Earring’s playing Twilight Zone. You two are singing along, playing bass, drums, and twanging like you’re a guitar. 

Nearly 25 years later, you hear that song again. And you’re still mates with that guy who used to sumo wrestle and drop by your house when you weren’t home because your mom always made him something to eat.

So hats off to the kid next door, the one who knew all the words to WHAM’s Bad Boys (doot doot doot do doot hoo hoo!), the glossy haired girl with the travellin’ tape, a road trip to Chicago, and Black Coffee In Bed, the curly redhead, her Honda Civic, and Lone Justice’s Shelter

I think of you all. Thanks for the memories.

Now I feel like pizza. McDonald’s Fries. Or breadsticks and iced tea.