Mar 23: Day Off, Memphis


I awoke in a stationary bus, engine off, generator running, outside our hotel in Memphis, Nascar on the TV. We arrived earlier than our rooms were ready, and waiting in the bus is a bit more comfortable than shambling around a hotel lobby.

The rooms became ready at random, or at least by some method beyond our control, and I didn’t have to wait long for mine. Once I set up the ‘today’ pile, kept it distinct from both the ‘tomorrow’ pile and ‘everything else pile’, I was officially settled into my room and of course, connected my machine to the mothership. I announced on Twitter:

“In a hotel in Memphis, I plan on doing nothing Elvis-related, unless Elvis went to drugstores to buy deodorant and baby wipes.”

After a diary entry, shower, and ‘video-head’ with the snow-besieged family in Larne, I set out on another Walgreens adventure. Reviewed as “essentially worthless unless you happen to need something the 4 or 5 hours a day they’re open” I decided to give it a whirl. The place was perfectly agreeable; I found what I wanted, and so much more. It seemed my communiqué with the Twitter world was an inaccurate prediction. While Elvis himself may not have been present (for you see he now lives on the moon) there was enough Pres-morabilia to satisfy my sister-in-law-in-law Zoe, who is a massive Elvis fan. I do love our Zoe, but I didn’t buy her a god-damned thing; I ain’t carrying that stuff around with me for another month, screw that.


What I found most interesting was the accent of the ladies working there. It was THE accent and footfall of syntax that has become stereotypified, the iconic cadence of the south — people sitting on the porch, fanning themselves, saying stuff like “hoooh-ee” and “lordy lordy”. I got a kick out of it anyway; not from a mocking or derisive stance, just a cool experience. With my purchases gathered I strolled back to the hotel and spent some hours writing fiction. That done, I started on this diary entry and here you find me.

On slow diary days such as these, it’s good to have some back-up. We’ve been doing theatres lately, and my favourite fan experiences happen to come from theatres. I should clarify; by favourite I mean of course the most memorable in terms of drunk people asking for stuff. I wish I could remember which theatre it was, but my favourite guy ever was the dude who pined for something — a guitar pick. Many people plead for setlists and picks (plectrums to some) but this guy was special. On at least four separate callings, he shouted out from the front row, after the band had been and gone, and we started loading out; he wanted this favour and solidified his desire with “I’ve been playing guitar for twenty years, gimme a pick!” Three or four repetitions later, he finally got the hint that none of us were interested and he left. Later that same night, I nearly kicked myself — what was I thinking? I had the perfect response: ‘You mean to tell me you’ve been unemployed for twenty years?’ But I missed my chance. I will never again see that moment. So when in theatres, I think of that guy, that chance, that moment of awesomeness, gone.

Over a year later, a similar situation occurs, this time a woman asking for a set list. As her pleas go unnoticed, her voice gets louder and more demanding. Beginning to receive the hint, she blares, “I know you can hear me — can I get a set list?!” to anyone and everyone on stage who might listen. Thinking of the aforementioned guy, that guitar-playing guru, that now-immortal legend in my mind, and the kicking I gave myself for not being ‘Mister Funny’ in retort at the time, my internal mechanism began its response to this woman’s unending neediness for a physical token. From behind the curtain (for you see, I can’t expose such a naked wit to the world at large) I let it rip: ‘If you know we can hear you, then you must know we’re ignoooring you!’ It went down a treat with our own crew I’ll happily admit.

Oh, I could go on, and there could be arguments about buying tickets and paying for things and such, but there is a counterargument for them all, so with that, I shall vanish into the air. Good night.



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8 Responses to Mar 23: Day Off, Memphis

  1. Karl W. Lohninger says:

    But then….why not give her a set list? Would that be so wrong?

  2. Leif says:

    After a while, you figure who’s sober and who’s not. The loud ones tend to be drunk and they don’t always stop with a simple token; they want to get into some sort of conversation or want us to stop what we’re doing, run off, and get something signed. Then they can be indignant when hearing we can’t because we have a job to do. It’s like asking someone in a parade to stop and chat; gotta keep moving.
    The quiet ones are easy, slip ’em a set list, they’re happy. The loud ones… yeesh.

  3. Karl W. Lohninger says:

    I see, thank you so much for explaining! And, again, thank you for writing this blog – it’s always a great read!

  4. The crowd at the Fox in Atlanta was totally respectful. But late in the show some jerk moved to an empty seat behind us and was one of those drunken loud guys. You can’t shut ’em up or they will just get worse. Speakin’ of monkey butts….

  5. And now I have another reason to tell the idiots why it isn’t a good idea to be drunk at concerts, better chance of getting a set list when sober 😉 Seriously though sometimes drunk people can’t be ignored. In one of those speak before I think moments in Dublin last year when a drunken idiot starting talking loudly during FBR I told her to STFU. I was mortified at my own reaction but it actually worked!

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