“Hey, can I help you find anything?” I asked.
“What’s that song about writing a letter to God?” she said.
“That’s ‘Dear God’ by XTC.”
“I love that! Do you have it on cassette?”
We walked toward the tape wall. “Are you going to check out the Campers at the Night Flight this weekend?” I said.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Camper Van Beethoven.”
“Oh, man. If you like XTC you’ll dig them. You know the Night Flight down on River Street? They’re playing there Saturday night.”
“I don’t even know you,” she said.
“It’s not like I’m asking you out. I’m just telling you about a cool show. Besides, you know me. I’m the guy from Record Bar who found XTC for you,” I said, and I handed her the tape.
“Do you have a name, guy from Record Bar?”
“Okay, James. Maybe I’ll see you there.”
The Night Flight was Savannah’s tastiest music venue. The big shows happened at the Civic Center, the bars up and down River Street hosted the local gigs, and the Night Flight was home to everybody in the middle. This was the site of my disastrous evening with the Bus Boys, but some of my all-time favorite shows happened at the Night Flight, too. The Flat Duo Jets come to mind.
But on that night it was all about Northern California’s Camper Van Beethoven, they of “Take the Skinheads Bowling” fame. The band had just moved up to a major label, so with Record Bar’s Billboard connection Robbo and I got in for free. We grabbed a table near the front and passed my sketchbook back and forth, each of us adding to the same drawing. The doodle grew more surreal with each addition, like a Terry Gilliam piece for Monty Python.
A stranger approached our table and grabbed our one empty chair. “Can I take this?” he asked.
“No, we’re waiting on somebody,” I said.
“Who’s coming?” Robbo asked.
“Probably nobody, but I told this customer about the show.”
“I don’t know her name, but she bought Skylarking.”
“What’s she look like?”
“Kind of like Goldie Hawn, I guess.”
The opening band came on, and Robbo and I started adding notes in my sketchbook—nothing important, just continuing our conversation while the band played. That guitarist isn’t too bad, that kind of thing. I felt a hand on my shoulder and there she stood: same white blouse, same Levis, same smile. I motioned to the empty chair and she sat. Robbo shoved the sketchbook in front of me. Much hotter than Goldie Hawn, he wrote.
I turned the paged and wrote Glad you came and pushed the sketchbook toward her.
This place is cool.
First time here?
What’s your name?
I’m still James. That’s Robbo.
He works at Record Bar too, right?
Yeah. What do you do?
I’m a massage therapist.
Really? I have this pain….
Slow down, pal.
That was pretty much the whole night: nothing special, just the three of us joking around, listening to music, and drinking beer. When we could talk we talked and when we couldn’t we wrote. The Campers played great, and then Robbo, Cindy, and I said our goodbyes.
When I woke up the next morning Jody was staring at me. “What’s up?” I asked.
“Did you have a good time last night?” she said.
“Yeah, it was okay.”
“Who’s Cindy? Don’t lie to me.”
“Who is Cindy,” she repeated.
“Just a customer from the store. She was buying XTC so I turned her onto Camper Van Beethoven.”
“I bet you did.”
“What are you talking about?” I said.
“You’re a liar.”
“What are you talking about? I didn’t do anything. Wait, how do you know Cindy?”
“You talk in your sleep, you asshole,” Jody said.
“I didn’t do anything, I swear.”
“You wanted to, though. How did you put it? You wanted to fuck the brains right out of her head.”
Jody was magic. I never invited a customer to a show again.