This past weekend I attended an Xmas party as a guest of someone acquainted with the host. They both sing Xmas carols in a group that tries to cheer up the hospitalized and homeless. The host turned out to be about as far from homeless as one can get. His hilltop home in the San Fernando Valley is enormous and opulent, with a huge swimming pool. He sang a couple of duets with his grown daughters, and was of course lustily applauded. Others too were encouraged to regale fellow guests with a song or two, ranging from "Ob La Di Ob La Da" to "Somewhere Out There."
The drum kit set up in one corner of the living room seemed to call to me. After at least one more glass of red wine than prudence would have poured me, I volunteered my services, only to learn that I would be accompanying a middle-aged woman who believed everyone would enjoy her interpretation of Dobie Gray’s "Drift Away," which I have always regarded as pretty inane. (One drifts away to Satie, perhaps, or to the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra performing Schumann, or to Miles Davis at his most wistful. One does not drift away to rock and roll. One dances feverishly, or bellows, “Whoo-hoo!”)
In any event, I started out pretty solidly, even though I was playing an unfamiliar kit (different drummers like things at different elevations, and I’m accustomed to playing my tiny electronic kit. It was like going from my tiny Smart, which I am able to park in spaces a skateboard couldn’t get into, to one of those SUVs which is like someone’s apartment on wheels — a Chevy Suburban, say. Perhaps six bars into the song, I dropped my right hand stick, snatched a replacement from the quiver attached to the floor tom, dropped that one, picked it up, dropped it again, played maybe a bar or two, and then dropped it yet again. It was like something you’d dream, and hope never to dream again. At song’s end, the vocalist looked at me as though I’d just murdered everyone she’d ever loved.
I can understand your chagrin, missus, and only hope you understand how my unintentional subversion of your performance might have been a blessing in disguise. Celebrity, my countless celebrity friends (including Dave Beckham, Aung San Suu Kyi, and members of the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra) assure me, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. One can be pretty confident about getting seated in even the most fashionable restaurant on Saturday evening at 8:00, but once seated, you could count on being interrupted over and over by well-wishers who imagine you desperate to hear which track on your latest album was their favorite, and why. A disgruntled sound man will sell a soundfile of your isolated vocals on a night you had a cold, or your pitch correction software was on the blink, and the whole world will snicker cruelly, as it did recently at Mariah Carey. Those ghoulish clickbait Websites will find a photo of you and your mate in which you look very far from your best, and publish it as one of 10 Hideous Celebrities With Hot Spouses. Had your fame spread internationally, British women’s magazines would have gleefully published photos of your stretch marks. The hosts of late night television talk shows would have made cruel jokes about you.
I might have saved you from incalculable tsouris, madam.