The Life of a Band Wife: Two Tales from the Road
When you’re married to a band member and spend most weekends traveling you gain new experiences and meet a lot of people. Some gigs we play regularly and become well acquainted with the folks who attend, creating many fond memories. Of course, the band members get to know each other pretty well too; in fact, after several years of being on the road together the band has become more like an extended family than a business entity. We’ve celebrated the joyous occasions in each other lives, mourned the sad events, and shared many laughs over humorous incidents.
Of all the memories built up over the years, it is the sad ones and the humorous ones that seem to remain the clearest in our minds. The humorous memories are recounted often, accompanied by gales of laughter during the many hours spent on the road. Two of those memories I’d like to share with you.
The first one concerns Howard. Howard was a regular at one of our monthly dances and he was..... well..... a little different. I never asked any questions about Howard’s condition, I just knew that although he wasn’t like the rest of us, he had a beautiful soul and a joyful, childlike heart. There was no eloquence in his speech, nor grace in his movements, but he loved to dance and was genuinely delighted to receive a hug and an invitation to the dance floor. He liked all the dances, fast and slow, and it was during one of the fast dances that his now famous little mishap occurred. It was delightful mishap, as mishaps go, one of those amusing incidents that makes you smile every time you think of it. You see, Howard wore dentures (I’d guess he was in his middle sixties) and he had a habit, when dancing, of pushing his upper teeth out a little, wiggling them back and forth a few times, and then popping them back in place again. He’d do this several times during a dance - when you saw Howard dancing, you knew his teeth were dancing too. One night during a lively tune, Howard pushed his teeth out a little too far. To the surprise, consternation and amusement of his fellow dancers, all of a sudden one set of upper teeth became airborne, and upon landing, skittered across the floor in between several dancers. Howard took off in hot pursuit of his teeth, and upon reaching the errant chompers, scooped them up, gave them a quick wipe on his sleeve and, grinning, popped them back into their rightful gummy place. He shuffled back to his group of dancers, who, wide eyed and mouths agape with various expressions of surprise, delight and disbelief at the incident, moved aside to welcome him back to the group. Howard has now passed on, but I think of him often: his love of life, his childlike joy... and his wandering dentures.
Our second tale involves Danny Baker. Danny is our bass player and one of four vocalists in the band. He’s solid and dependable, not loud and showy. A big strapping guy, Danny does his share when it comes to unloading and setting up the heavy equipment required for the band. After the hard and tedious work of setting up is done, Danny and the other band members change into their "good clothes" just before the show starts.
One night, the band had not been playing long - it was still early in the first set - and everything was going as planned when I suddenly heard a loud, quick "WOO!" come from one of the mikes. Definitely not part of the song. Curious, I looked up just in time to see Danny jump a little and yell "OWW!". It was actually more of a pained yelp. What in the world was going on? Without warning, Danny suddenly leapt off the stage and made rapid tracks to the men’s room. The other band members watched in surprise and wonder as Danny disappeared into the crowd. They obviously had no more clue than I did as to what was going on. A few minutes later, Danny emerged and took his place on stage again. I looked at him closely. He appeared all right, if slightly uncomfortable. For the remainder of the set things went normally and there were no more outbursts from Danny. Trying to imagine possible causes for Danny’s unusual behavior, I could hardly wait to hear the explanation. On the first break I got the scoop: Danny’s wife, Brenda, had done the laundry that day and since it was nice weather she hung the clothes on the outside line to dry. When Danny picked up his folded pants to pack them for the trip, little did he know that he would not be alone inside his pants. There was a wasp inside them. When it came time to start the show, he’d put the pants on, blissfully unaware of the uncomfortable turn of events that was about to happen. The wasp couldn’t find his way out, and trapped, you know what happened next. When the first sting occurred, it elicited the first surprised "WOO!". The second sting was accompanied by an even louder "OWW!", then followed by Danny’s rapid exit to find out what the devil was going on. Reminded me of the song "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" where Harv thought he had a weed eater loose in his Fruit of the Looms.
In the band room we found out the cause of the commotion and alternated between helpless laughter and offering giggling consolation to poor Danny who found it considerably less funny than we did. To add insult to injury, we discovered that the cantankerous little wasp had zinged Danny one more time before he made it to the bathroom to shuck those troublesome britches. These days, Danny is back to his normal low key self; however, I think he does check his clothes before putting them on if they’ve been dried on the outside line.
* Danny Baker, good sport that he is, has read this article and given permission to divulge the painful details. Thank you, Danny!
** The story of Howard is true, however, the name has been changed.