Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How I got my ulcer

When I was 16 years old, I had been playing bass guitar for about a year and was very impressionable. Bands like Alice Cooper, Kiss, Black Sabbath etc. were all huge to me and played an important role in my musical development. On Halloween, I usually dressed up as Alice Cooper. On stage, I usually portrayed some sort of dark character. I would darken my eyes which gave myself an evil personification. If you have the need to let out frustrations, I highly recommend trying this. Thru this process, I developed into a very animated bass player. Which reminds me of how I miss the 80's. The big hair and makeup, not so much the spandex. Just to elaborate, while other band members are putting on rouge and eye shadow, I would draw lines on my face that would give the appearance that my skin was falling off. Pretty dark and dimented but cool as heck. I guess that's probably a good reason that I didn't get laid as much as the pretty boys in the band did. I didn't really care tho. I had my own dark following. Some of which, scared the bajeebas out of me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not evil, just kinda played like I was on stage.

Anyway, back to the story. Kiss had just come out and was taking the country by storm. One year I saw them opening up for ZZ Top, the next year they were headliners everywhere. They gave an awesome show, flash pots, fire, blood and much more to my teenage impressionable mind. They were the gods of stage shows. I'm not a huge Kiss fan but you have to admit, their concerts are certainly among the most entertaining. While Alice was the king of Shock Rock, Kiss, in my opinion, started the whole glam rock thing.

Okay, so it's the early 70's and I had just started getting into bands. Most of which were really bad garage bands with guys who couldn't play all that well but they had a guitar and that's all you really needed back then to form a band to impress the chicks. So here I was in a band called Tobacco Road. We had a drummer whow had a snare drum a floor tom and 1 cymbal but actually covered things pretty well. Our guitar player knew 3 chords, E, A and D. It took him awhile but i finally got him to learn C and F. He wasn't the brightest light on stage. Our singer looked pretty cool, kinda like Mick Jagger without the humongous lips. He had a microphone rigged throuh his stereo. We were the epitomy of a garage band. Our tour consisted of going to the neighbors garage to play then maybe to a friends house when their parents weren't home.

Anyways, to make a short story long, I'll continue. We had been playing together for about 3 months when we figured that we were ready for the big time. We weren't really, but we thought we were. We figured everyone would love us so we started playing with the garage door open and turning things up as loud as we could. We soon found out that not everyone shared our enthusiasm. Sometimes it took the local police to come remind us. Irregardless, we were having a blast. I think it was about this time, after 3 months, that we attempted to learn some new material. A Kiss song. Granted not difficult to learn, but very difficult to pull off if you're not wearing makeup and 42 inch platform shoes. We decided we needed something to help keep people interested. The bass player for Kiss spit blood and fire. He was cool. The guitar player shot bottle rockets from his guitar. We decided that we should do these things too.

I didn't have a problem with the spitting blood thing. I like to gross people out. At least I did back then. Now I save that luxury for my kids. But back then I had no problem with it. The spitting fire? I was a little hesitant, but eventually gave in to the peer pressure. I practiced a little by putting a lighter in my mouth and released a little fluid then light the lighter and get a small flame. While sort of cool, it didn't havethe effect we were looking for. So Rick got the bright idea of using lighter fluid. Remember, I was only 16, so i said "cool lets try it".

Well after a couple weeks of filling my mouth with light fluid, note: Red Devil is the tastiest, I managed to get pretty good at spitting fire. We always made sure that someone was nearby with shoes on to stomp out the flames that managed to land on the ground. The only problem I ever had was, whenever I spit fire, I didn't always manage to get all of the fluid out of my mouth and sometimes would swallow a little, thus burping lighter fluid for the next 2 or 3 hours...yum. I believe that was the beginning of my heartburn problems, now that I look back and think about it. That's probably the beginning of my ulcer.

We had finally got our first real gig, it was a graduation party for a friend of ours who didn't really have any money to pay for real entertainment. What that means is that we played for beer. Oops I meant free soda, we were minors so no beer for us. As the night continued and people getting crazy from the caffeine and sugar that soda possessed back in those days, the party got pretty wild. It was getting late tho so we decided to play Kiss for our closing song. The blood thing went over really well earlier, just thought I should mention that. So we started the Kiss tune as I made sure the lighter fluid was nearby for our grand finale.

So here it was, the big moment. The band holding the last chord, the drummer banging cymbals, me filling my mouth with lighter fluid. My arm extends out as I light the lighter and spit the fluid toward the flame precisely as the singer jumps to end the song. There it was. The biggest ball of fire I had ever had come out of my mouth. The crowd was cheering and yelling in excitement. I too was amazed at the size of the fireball. So much amazed that I forgot to close my mouth as the fireball started to funnel back towards my mouth. Did I forget to mention I was hopped up on sugar and caffeine. The next thing I knew was our singer throwing me on the ground and rubbing my face in the dirt trying to put my face out. The fire had streamed backwards, igniting my face. What a finale. It didn't seem to burn all that bad at the time so I continued to party with my friends. The pain did get worse as the night went on tho so I decided I should probably go home.

The next day I got up and was headed to the bathroom to check the damage when I heard my mom screaming. Apparently, when you burn yourself bad, liquids come out of your skin to aid in the healing process. Well, this liquid had apparently coverd most of my face and dried to where it appeared as a massive scab. I looked into the miror and almost screamed myself. My dad and mom rushed me to the hospital where they told me I had 2nd degree burns and would more than likely be scarred for life. I was bummed but I think my girlfriend was bummed a little more. Fortunely, thanks to massive doses of bacitracin, I didn't scar as foretold. My parents, bless their souls, still think I was helping a friend work on his carbeurator and it blew up. Heavan help me if they ever had found out the truth. I don't spit fire anymore, although I did do it a few times after that. But I think the major lesson here is, don't use lighter fluid to spit fire. (you probably shouldn't spit fire in the first place) Gene Simmons actually uses gin. It burns fast and clean and more importantly fast...Did I mention it burns fast?


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You Are 87% Grown Up, 13% Kid
Your emotional maturity is fully developed, and you have an excellent grasp on your emotions. In fact, you are so emotionally mature - you should consider being a therapist!
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