As I race through the lobby to the elevators,I’m accosted by not one,but two,”grippers” (an English musician’s term for the kind of person that latches on for dear life and won’t let go),a gentleman in his 90s who used to run a jazz party, and an elderly lady who is the bane of musicians and promoters alike. (She was once kicked out of a hotel for tripping a man with her crutches after he asked her not to block the aisle, and for breaking the lock open on the kitchen door at midnight – “well, I was hungry, and they didn’t have room service” was her defense!). These two charmers actually talk simultaneously and overeach other in their eagerness to engage me,so it comes out like this—
Broomhilda:”What’s wrong with your hair?”
P:”-fat.I said you’re really-”
B:”I mean,it looks like you’re losing hair. Are you going-”
Mercifully,the elevator doors open-I dive in and stab frantically at the ‘close’ button.I’m free-except for a couple standing in the elevator,who seem kindly enough,but have a habit of always bringing up my LAST marriage.Now,I’ve been with Kim for five years,but to many fans,you’re frozen in their memories to some past time of their choosing-in this case,I’m still married to my Swedish ex-wife,and only have one son with her,an infant (who will miraculously be shaving soon!).
“How’s that little boy?” Now,should I say that I’m re-married,have fourkids in total,my ex is living in Sweden with my two sons,etc.-No,that won’t work,because then the elevator will turn into a scene from The Sorrow And The Pity,and I’ll have to recount the whole divorce,the fact that my children are so far away,etc.,while keeping a sorrowful expression on my face throughout their solicitations of sympathy,and trying to reassure them that “No,actually,everything’s allright now”….
Instead,I say,”Fine-thanks!”Oops-this backfires big-time,because their follow-up is:
“Your wife’s English is amazing!”
Now,I want to reply that,although Kim grew up in Kansas City, and so her knowledge of evolution could justifiably be questioned (actually,she’s quite familiar with the descent of man-she’s seen Dick Cheney on CNN),her English is exemplary….
Instead,I say,”Thanks!”The doors open to my floor-I break into a run for my room-as I nervously insert the key and the door clicks open,I hear one more,”Hey,Polack-are you going for some kielbasa and sauerkraut? We still haven’t heard a polka yet!”(see last entry) SLAM!!!!Safe…
P.S. Just as an aside,if you think events from my life are frozen in time with certain fans,consider the plight of a fellow saxophonist (he shall remain nameless),whose father passed away almost three years ago.He runs into one elderly gentleman about once a month,who has a habit of approaching my friend at the most inappropriate times,shaking his hand,and offering a “I sure do miss your daddy!!!”This means that my friend has to drop whatever he’s doing (in one case, a hot date!),and start ‘grieving’ again,no matter what his actual mood is….But,once again,I digress…
I’m doing the opening set at the Newport Jazz Party-this is always a good one,because not only do I get to play with some of the West Coast’s finest musicians,but Joe Rothman,the organizer,and I have a long-standing tradition of insulting each other mercilessly over the microphone throughout the weekend,and I get the opening salvo….
Now,Joe Rothman is a bachelor for life-he’s never been married,never will,so,naturally,my jokes lean in that direction-for example,two years before,I’d lowered the bar significantly with this joke:”You know,if you laid all the girls in California end-to-end…then you’d be Joe Rothman!” This,incidentally,was funny to everyone but his first-time date that night-who knew?????So this year I softened things up a bit-here’s my comments:
“It’s great to be back here in Newport Beach,and I’m glad to see Joe Rothman healthy again (some murmurs,some titters in the audience).No,you know he’s had some health problems-I don’t think he’d mind me telling you-for the last year,every time he had sex,his upper body burned like crazy-but a team of doctors finally figured out the cause-pepper spray!!!!”This was followed by,”No,I shouldn’t kid Joe-at his age,he has more testosterone than Rosie O’Donnell in a women’s prison!”These jokes,again,got a huge laugh from everyone but,alas,Joe’s date,who subsequently referred to me as an “asshole” and a “jerk”-again,I didn’t know she was in the audience,and I really didn’t think that she’d be offended,considering that (a) Joe “gives” to me as good as he “gets”,(b)we’re close friends,which is clear to everyone,(c)these jokes were pretty mild on the offend-o-meter,and(d)our banter is just an act.(I tried this reasoning on Joe’s date-she informed me that “I’m not an act!!!”).OK,to anyone not in our inner circle (all 2,000 of us)-I’M JUST JOKING!!Joe’s a great guy,he really is a perfect gentleman and a good,loyal,friend,and I love him-if you don’t believe me,I have an elf in Irvine who can testify on my behalf!!!!(again,see last entry)
Bye for now-Ken
P.S. You should sign up for Joe and John’s West Coast Jazz Party in Irvine on Labor Day weekend for more great music and hi-jinks!!!