SOMEWHERE IN TEXAS, SOMEWHEN IN THE SEVENTIES
“When I was a tiny and fire-breathing pup, I believed that Texas was the entire world. Having trotted this globe many a time since then, I still maintain this outlook. The metallurgy of the Eiffel Tower, the dramaturgy of the Globe theater, the thaumaturgy of the Pyramids: I have planned to see all of those things, but been too hungover and remained by the hotel pool until showtime. I have eaten yogurt in a yurt, and made a peepee in a teepee. My passport has more stamps than a philatelist’s fevered dreams.
“The world has been made aware of my presence.
“But I return, time and time again, a son both prodigal and prodigious. When autumn sneaks into the air and it’s hunting season; or when the sun bakes the sweat clean off your brow and it’s the other hunting season; or in winter during the mini-season, or in between hunting seasons when you’re only allowed to shoot wild boar and burglars. I leave her only to return, relieved beyond words to be in my true home. Roy Head does not live deep in the heart of Texas, no: Texas lives deep in the heart of Roy Head. Yes, that Roy Head.
“You should have heard of me.
“My earliest encounter with elsewhere came in ’66: I had been booked at the Palladium in London. The country was still in black-and-white, and they needed my bouncey-flouncy legs to whip some Roy, white, and blue into them. I had been east and west in this bountiful land granted us by the Lord, and north and south in Oklahoma, which is a pox inflicted upon us by God for our wickedness. Skippy Joe once found a highway called Route 77 that went in none of the cardinal directions.
“The compass needle tied itself into a knot.
“But I knew nothing of England, save what I’d been taught at Cascabel High by our history teacher, Spots, who was a basset hound. The womb from which the sacred baby that is the Constitution extruded, attached to the placenta that is the Bill of Rights, England became intolerable and large quantities of tea was returned to the sea from whence it came. This is why Americans now prefer coffee; or Texans, beer. Steadfast and standing firm by us while we won both World Wars, England is our glorious and martial past and a friend to all Americans.
“They also have the decency to not talk gobbledygook.
“The British Invasion was swinging like a pendulum, but we was gonna stage a counter-attack. My angelic voice would make a frontal assault, while they were distracted by my legular swizzle sticks stirring their drinks: these limeys could count on both a razzling and a dazzling, and second helpings of each. My suits were shinier than a showroom Cadillac, as was my hair.
“They were gonna get a show, and I was gonna give ’em the business.
“This intercontinental itinerary was longer on miles than money, and there was only enough for me and my band to travel. I immediately fired my band and hired Big Bucktoothed Pete, Skippy Joe, and Louie Grabass. Besides road managing, carpentry, security, and tailoring, Pete could play a mean guitar: he would have been by my side every night had I not needed someone I trusted to keep his eyes on the money while I twirled and whirled for it. Louie Grabass was assigned the bass guitar because he was of the lowest status.
“Skippy Joe did not know how to play the drums, but it was a long flight.
“I should mention at this point that Skippy Joe was a trepidatious traveler this trip. While he had gladly sped through all 48 of the actual states, plus several Canadian whatever-they-call-thems, to leave the country struck him as absurd; Skippy Joe was preposterized and the dissent he voiced was only tempered by the fact that he had a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He warned us that though these foreigners spoke American, they remained foreigners, and must therefore be assumed to be Communists.
“Albion remains perfidious, Skippy Joe told us, but in less fancy words.
“Loyalty won out, as it always does with the Cascabel Crew, as long as you define loyalty as a one-way relationship pointed from them at me; I generally encouraged a little tattling and snitching, as it helped me maintain control, plus it drove wages down. Big Bucktoothed Pete once video-taped Louie Grabass making hateful sex to my bed in the RV; I was so impressed by Pete’s actions, that I gave him one of the rings right off my finger.
“I retrieved the ring shortly thereafter, but it’s the thought that counts.
“We were not the Fab Four, but there were four of us, and we fabulated as hard as we could. Our suits matched, except Skippy Joe had taken off his jacket and tie and also his shirt. Our British record label had arranged a hero’s welcome at Heathrow: we would be bopped by teenies, and two girls had been paid extra to bathroom on themselves. Diverted by weather, we landed at Cathcart two hours late.
“Instead of making waves, we landed with without a ripple.
“We went through Customs, which is customary, and for this moment Skippy Joe was on his own: we had all discussed this at both length and depth. We warned him that bringing items untoward could cause the situation to get away from him, and Skippy Joe agreed and swore upon a Bible procured for the occasion. Even still, we kept an eye on him.
“Skippy Joe’s words and deeds had an on again/off again relationship.
“Our cab whisked us through the city that never sleeps, but five hours earlier. We saw Trafalgar Square, which is not that shape. There was Piccadilly Circus, which is not that, either. We rode along the Thames, which is not pronounced like that. Finally, we passed the Mall, and that was another lie. So far, England was brewing falsehoods and serving them with biscuits, which are–as you may have guessed–not biscuits. Skippy Joe had also become convinced that the ‘Km’ on the speedometer stood for ‘kommunist miles’ and was on the verge of becoming physically boisterous in defense of his newfound belief.
“Had he been wearing a shirt, he would have removed it.
“The hotel arrived with not a second to spare. Though lacking a bar, they did have a pub; we gladly made do. The show was quickly approaching, so we drank with vigor and did shots of vim. I also installed Louie Grabass in the pub’s kitchen to make changas, and then chimi them. In honor of our surroundings, we calmed our nerves and revved our engines with a British theme. We drank London Blitzes, which is gin lit on fire and then you write a poem about it. We drank Playing Fields of Eton, which are made of claret, sweet vermouth, and an almost non-stop amount of teenagers jerking each other off. It was probably a mistake to continue on to the Football Hooligan, which is a pint of bitter while an unemployed man hits you with a chair.
“The day had reached the point wherein food needed to be put on it.
“We scarfed down the changas Louie had laid a chimi on; we didn’t have time to enjoy his gustatory delights, but we soon felt the effects as Skippy Joe remembered the thing that it was that he plum forgot to tell any of us. Knowing our journey took us to land devoid of both Tex and Mex, we had smuggled in fixings. There were jalapenos of varying calibers, plus cheeses not known outside Cascabel. Skippy Joe was assigned the job of getting our raw changa into the country.
“I cannot say we shouldn’t have seen it coming.
“Skippy Joe had laced the changa ingredients with his special and personal spice! Those changas were felonies in any country you’d even tourist in, and most of the avoidable lands! Skippy Joe’s wakey-wakey powder had envivified our souls and enlivinated our hearts, plus we quickly discovered that we had forgone the cab, and were running top speed to the theater. The show went precisely as one would assume, especially when one factors in Big Bucktoothed Pete’s nudity and preaching! Princess Anne was present, and not amused!”
“That’s great, man, but you gotta rent the shoes if you wanna bowl.”
“I REGRET BITING PRINCESS ANNE DEEPLY!”
“I don’t know who that is.”