4 – Blog 11 – Coffee House Blues

I am so excited I cannot sleep. Laying there, I start missing Tommy badly. All the stories I told the girls about Tom & Huck. I had made sure not to fall in love with him, but here I am aching from missing him. I make myself ignore the thoughts causing a raging hard-on. I swear I will call him the next day after school.

Soon enough the girls are knocking on my door to get me ready for school.
“I kin dress meself,” I drawl.
“Yeah, dress for distress.”
“Next y’all be makin’ me wear a dress.”
“Would you?”
They are out of control. I agree they can do my hair. I am not about to let them chose my underwear, that’s Jack’s fetish. I come down for breakfast in bowling drag. Living with four females is drag enough.
“You look cute today,” Mom compliments me.
“Have to, if we want to recruit for the bowling team.”
“All the football players have already signed up. Do we need to recruit?” Angela questions me.
“We need an equal number of girls. It’s a co-ed sport.”
The girls look stunned. “Girls don’t play sports.”
“You don’t want to play?”
“We just don’t wanna play with boys.”
“Just ‘cause our moms are lesbos don’t mean y’all havta be,” I drawl.
“Language,” Molly yelled.
“Oh, I mean same-sex couple,” I apologize.
“I meant your fake country-boy accent.”
“Ya kin take the boy outta the country but not the country outta the boy.”
“I thought we agreed that proper English was to be spoken at home,” Mom asserts.
“Sorry. I kinda fall into it when I’s havin’ fun.”
They all laugh.
“Well, clear your dishes and get ready for school.”

The girls are laughing all the way to school. I promise myself not to act the clown in class. We have mostly the same classes and sit together. At lunch we go to the jock table and sit down. The boys stop talking, either shy in front of girls or they are just being misogynistic, prefering to keep the table as males only. Brock comes and makes us push down so he can sit next to me. Angela ends up standing with no place to slide over. The cutest boy makes space for her, making me slightly jealous. She gets all red in the face, but the boy puts on the charm in order to impress his buddies. They soon are having a real conversation. Everyone else relaxes, making us feel at home. Another boy switches his seat to sit with Amy, making Brock and me slide the other direction.
“You boys still wanna be on the bowlin’ team? We need to recruit girls now.”
“They’s got cheerleadin’ for bowlin’?”
“No, duffus. It’s a co-ed sport. Ya neva heard ‘bouts mixed leagues?”
“Girls don’t play sports.”
“Y’all be surprised how competitive they kin be. Once we git a couple of girls to join, they be a’flockin.’” I assert.
“How’s we gonna git the first girls?” Brock asks.
“They be a’sittin’ right here.”
“Oh. Amy and Angie, y’all wants ta be on the bowlin’ team?” Brock is all red-faced.
“Only if’n y’all be our cheerleaders,” Amy jokes.
His posse laughs at Brock until he gives them a mean look. It quickly shuts down the ridicule.
We all agree to start practice once football is over. We plan to join a mixed winter league.

I call Jay before English. He found a script like I had asked him to get and mailed it to Hyland Avenue. I tell the teacher I obtained a script so we can make copies when it arrives. She says she will decide who will play the roles. I suggest I should be a musician since the episode is about the school dance.

“That is one of my favorite shows,” she gushes.

I am working on an A+ to catch up with Robby. I hope it does not include giving head. Then I feel weird about being too gay. Why is eating pussy any different from giving head? I start getting hard in class until Angela punches me on the arm, deflating the beast. Maybe she is showing non-sisterly attention. I over-think things.

Friday night comes. The three of us Triplets are at the football game. ‘Gator is pumped up and seeing us sends him over the moon. He is a linebacker – quick and big. He is on a mission, making tackles and sacking the quarterback. It is a rout for Aims High. We come down on the field at the end of the game, both girls hanging onto me.
“Pretty impressive, ‘Gate. You’re a madman out there.”
“It’s my best game ever, especially ‘cause y’all came.”
“Wouldn’t have missed it,” we all lie. “Y’all comin’ to our show?”
“I’m pumped. All the guys will be there.”
“Well, hopes y’all likes it.”
“I knows we will.”

Off he goes to the locker room. He tries to drag me in with him. I tell him we have to set up for the show. I cannot tell if he is crushing on me, on one of the twins, or he is just used to getting everyone to follow him like his posse does. I figure he is working to make me a follower, much as Robby did in Miami.

The coffee shop in downtown Ames has large windows, making it easy to see inside before committing to go through the door.  There is a counter for baked goods and an order counter to get your coffee. Further inside is a large area with tables and chairs plus couches along the walls. The back  corner is set up with a mic and seats for performers to play. It is cozy and intimate. I wonder how the regular patrons will take to our football crowd taking over their space. I realize we should go on as soon as possible. The ‘boys’ will probably take their time with locker-room hi-jinks.
We introduce ourselves to the manager, asking that we play first.
“What songs are you planning to do?” he asks.
“We’re starting with Eve of Destruction.”
“Cool. We haven’t heard that one in a while.”
“If people like it, we’ll play a couple of other songs and talk with the crowd a bit.”
He is agreeable. It is not CBGB’s.

We tune up our electric guitars in the girls bathroom. I hate it when the first thing a band does is tune up on stage.
Ready to go, we sit on separate chairs, sharing the single mic. We use two practice amps so the volume will be kept low. I strum the opening bars with the girls waiting on my introduction.

“Evening, Ames. We’re the Triplets, Amy, Angie and I’m Andy. We hope you like this song from 1963, ’Eve of Destruction.’”
There is a smattering of applause. Most people don’t even listen to my remarks, making us sing and strum louder than usual.

“The eastern world it tis explodin’,
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’,
You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’,
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’,
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin’,”

I let the girls sing the chorus in their high, pitch perfect sopranos:

“But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”

That gets everyone’s attention. I come back in for the second verse, adding a bass voice to the seriousness of war. Again it is just the girls on the chorus, singing high and pure. We do all four verses and choruses. The crowd is eating out of our hands.

“That song was from the beginning of the Protest Movement of the 60’s. It predicts we wouldn’t even be here in 1975. How come they were wrong?” I ask.
“We stopped the War,” someone shouts.
“Did we do it, or was it really them, the 60’s people?”
“We all did it. I went to protest marches with my folks,” someone speaks up.
“Did it feel like you was changing the world?”
“I was just glad they ended the draft when I was in high school.”
“So it was kinda over before we grew up. I wonder what our generation will do.”
“Tune in, turn on, drop out,” someone yells out.
“How’s that workin’ for ya?”
“My girlfriend’s coming back to my dorm room tonight.”
“Good going, caveman.”
They all laugh easily.
“What I wonder is what our generation will do to change the world. How ‘bout this song from Norman Greenbaum,” as we start playing ‘Spirit in the Sky.’ Angie plays the distorted bass notes on her top string only, while Amy and I play the full chords.

“When I die and
They lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place
That’s the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go
When I die
When I die and they
Lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place
That’s the best
Prepare yourself
You know it’s a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that
When you die
You’re gonna go to
The spirit in the sky
Gonna go to the spirit in the sky
That’s where you’re gonna go
When you die…”

While we play, several girls get up and start swaying and waving their hands over their heads. I swear I am back in Baptist youth group.
“Y’all like a little gospel with your sugar pop. Is being true to Jesus enough to say at the end of your life that it’s all been wonderful and worthwhile?”
“Jesus saves,” someone yells.
“What if’n I’s already saved, with Jesus in my heart? Is that all there is?”
“Party.” He yells.

‘Gator and the boys walk in the front.
“So long’s we’s all havin’ a good time, let the party begin,” as I start playing Dylan’s ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”

“ Mama, take this badge off of me
I can’t use it anymore
It’s gettin’ dark, too dark to see
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore
That long black cloud is comin’ down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door”

Songwriters: BOB DYLAN

“Hey, boys. Hellava game tanight,” I greet ‘Gator and his posse. “These folk is questioning the worth of their lives. Any suggestions?”
“Par-tay, par-tay,” they all yell.
“In that case, I’m a’gonna git down off’n my high horse,” as I drop on all fours and bark.
Instantly, Max is there, barking back at me. Angela takes out the collar and leash and attaches them to my neck. Amy hands me the mic into which I continued to bark. The girls rip into the Stooges ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog,’ while Max and I channel our inner Iggy.

‘Gator follows my lead, getting down on the floor and barking at me. The rest of the jocks soon join him, as well as several college boys. The girls who had been waving their hands, stand there, hands on their hips, glaring at all the idiots. Amy busts out her best Hendrix guitar licks, getting all the girls’ attention. When do girls rock out in Iowa? We go on and on. I notice the manager is pacing, trying to decide whether to pull the plug. I bang the mic on the floor. With a crash it all stops.

“Thank you, Ames. Just when I thought we couldn’t aim any lower, we outdid ourselves, didn’t we?”
A cheer goes up, as we leave the corner and join the jocks.

The manager quickly comes up to the mic. “Well, that was sumthin’ different. How about a hand for The Triplets.” Without pausing he goes ahead and introduces the next performers. We take the jocks outside and berate them for missing half our show. ‘Gator looks genuinely hurt and apologizes.
“You guys are great. You need a bigger stage.”
“It were ‘sposed ta be a serious folk session, but y’all busted it up. Them college kids thought it was all fer fun and missed the point.”
“What was the point? We all was jist havin’ fun.”
“We gave ‘em a choice, go for god or jist have fun.”
“Well, we be the godless crowd then.”
Everyone laughs.

The boys insist on dragging us to the post-game party at one of their teammate’s homes. The twins hang closely to me as we observe Midwest football debauchery. ‘Gator is dragged away by his cheerleader/’comfort’ girl. He apologizes as he is led to a bedroom for his post-game reward.
“Y’all enjoying this?” I ask the twins.
“No way,” they both cry. “we jist hope y’all won’t run off with some slimy slut and abandon us.”
“No fear. Yer honor’s safe with psycho boy here.”
“We keep waiting for some psycho craziness, but y’all’s jist the nicest boy.”
I hug them both. All three of us walk out, arm in arm.

Molly asks us at breakfast Saturday morning how our show went. They had missed it. It was almost noon by the time we got up.
“Well, you could say we made a bunch of new friends, but none of them were the folk crowd,” Angela is analytical as always.
“You didn’t play the folk songs you practiced?” my mom asks.
“We did and it was going great. But then the football team showed up. Andy did a dog act to a heavy metal song. They were crawling around on the floor and barking. We lost the serious crowd,” Amy explains.
“You really rocked out, Aim,” I try to compliment her.
“I was so mad that the jocks (and you) ruined it by making fools of yourselves.”
“I thought you were really into it. You were cranking on guitar.”
“I went crazy from the anger.”
“Anger is an energy.”
“Not in church choir.”
“Don’tcha think they got the point – what will the next generation be like, god-fearing or god-damning?”
“Language, please,” Molly upbraids me.
“Sorry,” I feel abashed.
“It’s okay, Andy. You’re used to playing rowdy rock. My girls are church-going girls. They prefer simpler folk music.”
“But rock is folk music, just not boring, like,” I start singing sarcastically , “Michael row your boat ashore.”
“Alleluia,” the twins sing high and pure.

It makes me realize that there is more than one way to see things. Maybe I am being closed off. They sing like angels. Jace, my angel, appears, signing that the girls are on another planet from us. I sign that I want us on an equal playing field.
“Compromise,” he signs.
“What are you doing?” Angela notices the signing.
“I’m signing to Jace. It’s a habit from thinking he’s watching over me, so he can see what I’m thinking.”
“You are so weird.”
That is not the half of it, I think.
“It’s so I can trust what my heart is telling me to do.”
“What’s it saying to do now?” Amy asks.
All four women look at each other and nod. I feel outnumbered.
“How do you suggest we compromise?” Angela asks.
“If we get asked to play again, we need to play songs we all like.”
“Of course.”
“I thought we had agreed to do the heavy metal song at the end.”
“We thought it was okay, but when we were playing the reaction was too crazy. We got scared,” Angela answers for both twins.
“What about you, Amy. Was it too scary?” I hope to find some support. “You must have felt something for that song, you played so well. Your guitar was incredible.”
“It was so different playing electric compared to acoustic. I got carried away.”
“You had those boys groveling at your feet,” I laugh. Amy looks embarrassed.
“Explain to me how a coffee shop open mic folk performance turns into a riot,” Molly starts to realize what happened.
“We played Barry McGuire and Bob Dylan, as well as a gospel song, asking the patrons what they thought and how we relate to sixties music in the seventies. Then we played a nihilistic heavy metal song as a contrast just as the football players showed up. They jumped to the front and were rolling around on the floor, barking like dogs.”
“I’m not comfortable with the image of football players groveling at the feet of my daughters,” Molly pronounces. “You guys go upstairs, so Wendy and I can decide whether this band idea is appropriate or not.”
I feel the kiss of death hanging over us, as we slowly climb the stairs to the third floor. The Miami band never was subject to parental approval, except for Michael’s dad who really was in the band, geezer division.
“That craziness didn’t bother y’all?” Angela asks when we sit down in a circle with our guitars.
“Which craziness – the show or the moms?”
“You never get phased, do you. That was a pretty wild night for the Muller Twins. The worst was that party with the sluts dragging those jocks away for sex. We’re too innocent for that. We don’t want to know about it.”

We start practicing on guitar, just playing scales and riffs. The moms come up and announce their decision about the band.
“We think it’s great that you are bonding over music. The band introduces Andy to the community as the newest member of our blended family. But we have reservations about the image you project, especially how it reflects on us as parents. We want to have a say about what music you play in the future.”
“We did that before last night’s performance. We just didn’t know how crazy it was going to get.”
Looking directly at me, Mom expresses their real concern, “I think Tim, er Andy, knows pretty well what the reactions will be. His dad just told me about the experiences he had with his rock band this year.”
Good old dad, right here with his negative opinions.
“We played one rock song after doing three folk/gospel songs. You knew that the purpose was to show the college kids the difference between finding meaning through religion or leading a nihilistic life represented by the rock song.”
“But only you knew that the rock song would make the crowd go crazy,” Molly accuses me.
“My mistake is inviting the football players. The girls warned me not to let our friends know about the show. I thought that was because they were shy.”
I feel the old axiom that girls cannot rock makes me the only one who wants to play rock n roll. I have to appeal to the twins that they want to be more than choir girls. I am not going to like playing for the moms’ seal of approval.
“I think we need to set some ground rules if you want to continue playing in public,” Molly decides.
Just then the door bell rings. Amy runs down and comes back, followed by ‘Gator and his posse of four.
“’Mornin’ Mrs. Muller, Mrs. Castle. We come over to see if Andy wants to start practicing for the school’s bowling team.”
“Hello, Brock. That’s nice of you to ask him.”
“Oh, he’s the one who’s startin’ the team.”
“You know it’s a co-ed sport, ‘Gator,” I inform him.
“Well, ‘course the girls hast ta come too.”
The twins start to giggle, more out of embarrassment than excitement.
“We’ll talk about the band later,” Molly postpones the inevitable.
“How about we plan to all go to church tomorrow,” I took the offensive, knowing that I was staking out the high ground.
“That’s an unusual request. We seldom attend.”
“What better way to show we mean it when we sing gospel songs?”
‘Gator is trying to understand what we are discussing. “We’ll all come, too. If’n that’ll help,” he suggests in his impetuous way. “We kin go to my Baptist Church. They’s always prayin’ fur us a’fore our games.”
The moms are outflanked. The twins smile conspiratorially. Bowling, then Church, trumps rock n roll madness.

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