It's going down to 17 degrees in my town tonight. It's a good night to have a warm, comfortable apartment. I did all my running around when I got off work at 7:00pm so I can hole up here with the cats and a pot of strong black tea and you guys.
Once upon a time in December of 1993, my band, the Go Figures had been on the road for about two weeks. We had been touring full time for about six and a half months at that point, stopping home for a week here, two weeks there, then going back out for a set of gigs in Florida or North and South Carolina, or, as was the case on the night in question, Birmingham, Alabama.
Somewhere on the road between Oxford, Mississippi and Birmingham, I had come down with the hiccups. Now, hiccups are funny when you get them for ten minutes or so, but when they are those violent gut-spasm hiccups and they go on for hours? They get painful. And irritating. Every time you try to sip a liquid, you hiccup. Every bite of food? Ruined. After about nine hours of continuous hiccups that have come out of nowhere and resisted every home remedy in the book, you start to get a little freaked out.
Oh, and you angrily demand that everyone in the band stop fucking trying to scare you. That shit gets old real quick.
So, we get to Birmingham. A friend of a friend has told us we can crash in her apartment there. She's moving out and is staying at a friend's until things get settled, so we're welcome to stay there, right? Just one little detail she omitted. No furniture. No curtains, no dishes, no toilet paper. Just…an apartment. No soap, no shower curtain.
But, hey, you know? It's 36 degrees and raining, so at least it's indoors and out of the cold.
But anyway, I was standing there as we loaded our sleeping bags, backpacks, and Assorted Road Crap into this basically abandoned apartment and I looked across the parking lot through the rain at all the windows lit up bright in the apartments opposite. I could see people moving around inside, eating dinner, watching TV, all of them safe and dry and warm. Meanwhile the rain was starting to seep in through the cracks in the soles of my old combat boots.
"Balls!" I said to myself, "(Hic!) I fucking wish I was in there and not (hic!) out here in the fucking rain, going to play a gig that nobody's gonna (hic!) fucking come to in some beer and piss-smelling shite club (hic!) and then come back and sleep in this place?" Whooo-hoooo! Rock and roll! What a party. Living the Dream, dude. Stop me before I fall over dead from joy.
Anyway, these days when it's a particularly nasty night out, whether it's brutally cold like tonight or miserably wet or some combination of the two, I pause to think about that night in Birmingham and suddenly, my apartment seems like the best of all possible worlds. Dry and cozy. Praise Jesus.
So, tonight, let's take a moment to think about all the people in the world who aren't home and who are homesick and missing their beds, whether they're away on business or soldiers at war or civilian contractors in Iraq or freshly arrived Democratic staffers spending their first uneasy nights in Big DC. This Late Nite goes out to anybody out there who misses their mama's cooking. Everybody who misses the smell of their beloved's hair. Anybody who's missing the sound of their kids laughing. May our prayers bring you comfort and peace.