Spring cleaning: Erased (80/100)

I played a concert in the summer of my junior year of college where the closing band was a middle-aged Metallica cover band. They looked at us like we were lost. I had a deer-tail tuft of hair up front that I dyed various colors. At the time it was green and one member of the cover band, a biker with Gandalf gray hair, asked me if my mom dyed it for me before the whole band erupted in laughter.

The venue’s booking agent showed us the stage and there wasn’t enough room for all seven members of our “punk with horns” band. I stood on a speaker for most of the performance, blaring my trumpet as loudly as possible over the poor mix of the sound system. I remember one band’s, a riot grrl band, lead singer didn’t wear panties and high kicked a few times to a mixed chorus of disgust and arousal.

We were in the studio my senior year, recording with members of a band called Cougars (formerly Hot Stove Jimmy). I remember having a blast making jokes, talking to the sound engineer guitarist and excitedly driving back to the northwest burbs of Chicago, listening to a rough mix of our first studio album. When we got home we all got copies of the cassette tape. I played it for my parents when I noticed a trumpet part was missing.

That week I was largely quiet at the lunch room table. The rest of the band still elated at what we were able to accomplish I had learned that they had, in fact, “turned (me) down in the mix.” This was a nice way of saying I was removed, my part scrubbed from the recording. I quit the band that week, if I remember correctly. I didn’t raise as much of a stink as I wanted but perhaps I said something. I remember feeling empty. I had been part of the band for two years. And then, at the time, I remembered the way the band had treated me.

I was pitiful back then, wanting desperately to be part of something, to create an identity. Because when the “core three” started out, they didn’t want me to be part of the band I sat outside the white aluminum suburban garage door, hitting record and stop. I acted out by trying to kickflip on my skateboard, ruining the take. I said I was sorry but I wasn’t. They asked another kid, an acquaintance of ours, to be the singer of the band. I had asked if I could sing and they told me that I didn’t have the right voice or attitude. The singer didn’t last long but I recorded him the same.

The other day one of the members of this band posted some pictures on Facebook. I was in a couple of them but you’d never know. My face, and the former guitarist, had been blued out. I commented on it saying I was hurt. He played it off until I clarified that I wasn’t joking. He apologized in an email and removed the pictures. “…we thought it was silly. Was never meant to be hurtful.” I don’t doubt it, but that doesn’t take away the hurt.

I wasn’t sure why I let it get to me anymore until I realize that I invited the pain. I rarely spoke up and when I did it was taken as a joke. I’d play it off as a joke, looking away and swallowing. I always was a jokester. Deliver a quip, get a laugh, disappear.