Rock of Love: The Hobo Gift That Keeps on Giving

Prior to finding the best husband in the world, I had the misfortune of dating a lot of other musicians who I now prefer to call “Ewwww!!!!”

In years past, I wrote often about the experiences, because I was light on time and those guys make for some easy comedy fodder.  As a person who is now older and wiser, I hesitate to share more stories because it just feels almost too easy.  It’s like pie-ing someone in the face for laughs, or trick-or-treating for herpes on the set of Saturday Night Fever.  There’s no challenge in it.  I mean, it’s practically slapstick.

But, alas, here we are.

Welcome to the jungle.  We’ve got hobo gifts.

I came home one day from work about 23 years ago, to find a “gift” left for me on my porch, leaned against my front door.  It was a bright blue, broken Cookie Monster bicycle baby-seat.  You know, the kind you attach to the back of your bicycle and strap a baby into it?  The fact that it was clearly pulled from someone’s trash, wasn’t functional, and that I had neither a baby nor a bicycle and therefore had no use for it, made me bite my lower lip, nod my head knowingly, and say, “Well my, my, my. Some musician must have a crush on little ol’ Maggie!”

Later on, as I received a call from my secret trash admirer from the payphone near the motel he was living in with his parents, I blushed.  I mean, it wasn’t even a collect call!  This guy cared. We made a date for him to “see me around sometime or whatever”, because he didn’t know what he was doing later.  With a commitment like that, I knew he was clearly smitten.

Musicians have a special kind of anti-knack for gift-giving, in that (a) they have no money because they refuse to get a real job, and (b) they are so self-absorbed that they could not care less what your likes and dislikes are.  You’re lucky they remember your name half the time and don’t just call you what you really are to them: “Car Payment”.  They set the bar so low for themselves that it’s a wonder that they don’t wake you up on Christmas morning with a turd in their hands whispering, “I made you a dook for Christmas!”

It reminds me of the time I was gifted with a toilet seat for Christmas.

While it was, in fact, a new toilet seat, which meant he actually walked into a store to purchase it instead of pulling it off a trash pile down the street, most ladies are expecting something a little more, I don’t know, romantic?  Than a toilet seat?  Pretty much any other item that can be found in a bathroom is more romantic than a toilet seat.  A toothbrush cup, a new rug, even a can of Lysol Scrubbing Bubbles – because those little cartoon guys on the label are kinda cute, right?

Granted, I had only spent $300 on a custom gift for him that he later sold for gas money, but that’s neither here nor there.

I think the best part, though, was that along with the toilet seat came a solid promise to install it.  Many years later, as I pitched the toilet seat into the trash after our breakup, still in its original, unopened clamshell packaging, I wondered if he was still planning on getting around to that.

Now, this is all fine and good, and I’m sure you’re probably thinking it doesn’t get worse than an old Cookie Monster bicycle baby-seat or a new toilet seat, but that’s where you’d be dead wrong, Hoss.

The best-worst hobo gift I ever received from a musician was a rock.

I can assure you that is not a euphemism for a diamond, by the way.  It was an actual rock.  And not a pretty rock from the desert, or one of those smooth river stones that someone painted to look like a sea turtle.  It was a strictly utilitarian rock.  Like the kind of rock I would have later thrown through his window when I found out he was cheating on me and routinely stealing money from my purse, that is, if he had actually had a home.

And it wasn’t like he had forgotten it was Christmas and just picked a rock up off the ground and handed it directly to me on Christmas morning, thinking I’d be none the wiser.  He had wrapped this rock up and taped the package shut – so it was a totally planned gift.

Now, for my gift to him, I had commissioned from a silversmith a large, custom-designed sterling silver charm for his black leather cord necklace (because 1990s) that took me weeks of planning and about half my paycheck but, again, that’s neither here nor there.

He, on the other hand, gave me a rock, wrapped in newspaper from my own recycling bin.  Now, I know you’re thinking that there’s nothing worse than receiving a rock wrapped in your own garbage newspaper as a gift, but that’s where you’d be dead wrong again, Hoss.

As he gave me the rock and I unwrapped it, he told me, in complete earnest, that it was a rock that had been given to him by his favorite ex-girlfriend, and now he was “entrusting” it to me to take care of it.

That’s right.  This was no ordinary rock.

This motherfucker gave me a secondhand rock.

He re-gifted me a rock.

He re-gifted me a rock from his ex-girlfriend and then said, out loud, to my face, “This is a rock my favorite ex-girlfriend gave to me and now I’m entrusting its care to you.” As a gift!

I’ve gotta say, though, whoever this ex-girlfriend was? She was waaaaay more experienced at dating musicians than I was, because by giving him this rock, she had clearly been aiming to give him a taste of his own medicine.  I assume it was her response to previously being given one of his other ex-girlfriend’s used maxi pads as a gift for Valentine’s Day.

I mean, she gave him a rock?  That’s some seriously next-level shit right there.  That’s the kind of shit Grace Slick or Stevie Nicks would pull.

Truth be told, I wish I actually could have met this ex-girlfriend, because I would have side-eyed her as I shook her hand and said, “Well played, ex-girlfriend. Well played.”  Then I would have sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” to her, because how else could she know she was my hero?

Seriously, she gave him a rock?  That woman should be goddamned President.

Home Is Where Nobody Annoying Is

There’s a stereotype of a woman “of a certain age”.  She’s sitting at home, wearing yoga pants, a breezy tank top that says something like “Me Time = Wine Time”, Ugg-style slipper booties, a face coated in three types of moisturizer, is eating Greek yogurt, and has glazed-over eyes from watching Orange is The New Black for three hours straight.

When you’re 25 and out every night until 5am, you think about this mature woman stereotype and assign a certain amount of derision to it, like that’ll never be you.  Fast asleep before 10pm after finishing your nightly Sleepytime herbal tea?  Nope!  After all, you’re a party monster!

At 25, on any random Monday, you might wake up on a band tour bus in a parking lot in Ft. Lauderdale wearing chaps and a feather boa, and not be able to quite figure out which person in the band you pulled them off from, so you steal a $20 that was stuffed down inside a bong on the kitchenette counter and call a cab home from the IHOP next door before anyone else wakes up and finds out you stole their master recordings for their next album (which means you leave at noon).  On your way home, while dry-heaving up Popov vodka into an Eckerd’s bag, you find a police badge and a container of Sea Monkeys in your purse, have no idea how they got there, and decide to just add them to your existing collection of police badges and Sea Monkeys that you keep on your thrift store nightstand at home, that is also covered in Delia’s catalogues and eye glitter-pots, because there is no such thing as too many lug-soled mary janes, or too much eye glitter.

(The foregoing anecdote is “hypothetical” for “legal reasons”. I’m sure I have no “idea” where your master recordings “are”. I’m “sure” nobody “smashed them with a hammer in their backyard after the shit you pulled”.)

And besides, what else were you gonna do?  Sit at home like a lame-ass?  You are most certainly NOT going to sit at home like a lame-ass.  You’re a wild woman of the world!

I was a wild woman of the world for many years there, and it was mostly a good ride.  Why, out of about 7,000 nights, there were 20 or 30 that were pretty damn amazing.  The rest were mostly, I don’t know, just okay? Waiting around for them to become amazing nights?

That being said, nowadays, as a woman of a certain age, I am not leaving my house on a Monday night for literally anything.  A-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.  Know why?

Because I am sitting at home, wearing yoga pants, a breezy tank top that says something like “Me Time = Wine Time”, Ugg-style slipper booties, a face coated in three types of moisturizer, am eating Greek yogurt, and have glazed-over eyes from watching Orange is The New Black for three hours straight – and I am not ashamed.

I will state my case thusly:

Sitting at home is awesome because I am home, which is a place that has been fully customized for my maximum comfort, and also contains my husband Bobby, who is my favorite person.  Unlike being out at a club, in my home there are no annoying weirdos trying to grope me, no loogies on the floor, nobody shooting up heroin in the corner, there is a working toilet and – as a bonus – nobody there is an asshole, except for me.

Yoga pants are awesome because they are engineered and designed to fit a woman’s body, and never give you muffin-top.  I would even venture to say that they are as comfortable as most men’s clothing.  (It’s really great how what are, essentially, women’s pajamas are almost as comfortable as the shit men get to wear every waking moment of their lives, isn’t it?)  Yoga pants still don’t have any useful pockets, though, so that’s how you know they are still made for women.  Given the discomfort and lack of useful pockets in 99% of women’s clothing, I guess clothing manufacturers assume that women are both (a) masochists, and (b) have a kangaroo pouch in their abdomen that they store stuff in.

Breezy tank tops are awesome because they are like wearing a delicate cloud around your torso, and allow you to hide the food baby that you created when you ate all those tater tots and sweet pickles earlier for lunch while you cried in your car to a Dionne Warwick song for no reason.

Ugg-style slipper booties are awesome because it’s like having your feet jammed inside a fuzzy stuffed animal, and because woman-feet tend to be in the temperature range of -0 and -1 degrees Fahrenheit, because God hates you.

A face coated in three types of moisturizer is not so much awesome as it’s a requirement if you don’t want to look like current day Jack Palance who, by the way, died 12 years ago.

Greek yogurt is awesome because it has a creamy density and tartness that can’t be replicated by anything else on Earth, it goes well with honey or fancy maple syrup, and if you also crush salted peanuts on top of it, it will appease the hormone demons that hold your brain hostage over the “salty-sweet” thing until you feed them and then they’re still like, “Now how about some meat pizza and root beer?”

Orange is The New Black is awesome because it doesn’t have Ben Affleck in it.

“I don’t give a shit what you think.  You can either start being nice to me, or you can leave.”

Dewd = Guy who sucks

Man = Guy who doesn’t

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

I do not enjoy Pantera.

For most of my life, were I to admit this type of opinion out loud, it would have meant that I would be relentlessly ridiculed by any dewdz in the room.  In order to avoid the ridicule, I would have to pretend that I liked Pantera.  Even though I can’t stand Pantera.

The closest thing I like to Pantera is Panera.  The “You Pick 2” Turkey Chili and Classic Half Grilled Cheese is my jam, and I’m not afraid to admit it.  You wanted to see me be brave, Sara Bareilles, so there you go.

Plus Panera has an online ordering app.  If you have an app that allows me to order food and pay for it without interacting with a live human, you are my friend for life.

I’ve gotten off-topic here.

So!  Not liking Pantera isn’t about getting older and not liking loud music or guitar wankery.  I adore guitar wankery, despite my opinion that guitar players are the worst kind of scum.  I will listen to Van Halen on 10 any day of the week, and I consider that particular environment to be my natural habitat, actually.

It’s that I’m old enough to stop pretending to like things that dewdz like in order to be accepted by dewdz.

Back when CDs were a thing, that was always the worst part about having a dewd come over to your house for the first time:  the scathing review of your CD collection.  That’s where the dewd sits in front of your CD tower, scans all of the titles from top to bottom, and makes fun of you for anything in there that they find unacceptable – and by “unacceptable”, I mean anything that is even remotely feminine.  Even if you did a preemptive scan and removed anything he might find to make fun of, there’s always something in there that he’ll zero in on and take you to task over.  “What is this?  A Hole record?  Hole sucks!”

Yeah, that’s true.  Girl bands are terrible.  Luckily there have been so many really great dewd bands out there, you know, like Limp Bizkit and Creed, and Godsmack and Staind, to make up for how terrible girl bands are.

What galls me the most when I look back on all the times these situations that happened to me, is not just that these dewdz thought it was their business to inform me of what my own opinions should be about music, but that I never felt I had the agency to say to them, “I don’t give a shit what you think.  You can either start being nice to me, or you can leave.”  But there was no way I was going to do that.

I didn’t want to hurt their feelings.

For insulting me.

I didn’t want to hurt their feelings for insulting me. 

Women are shown from a very young age that it’s our lot in life to be accommodating and agreeable.  To go along.  To not make a scene.  That is someone is being a total jerk to you, you should just stand there and take it rather than risk hurting their feelings by pointing out what a jerk they are.  After all, maybe you’re being over-sensitive, you woman-person?  Boooooooooooooo.

Now, I don’t have children (and I never will because I don’t have the temperament for it, and believe me, that’s doing a kid a favor), but if there is one thing I wish my friends with kids will someday do, it’s to teach their daughters that it doesn’t fucking matter what dewdz think.  Like, it could not matter LESS.

Go ahead – like Sarah MacLachlan.  Like The Notebook.  Like stuffed animals that are cartoon cats dressed as mermaids.  Like “traditionally” girly things with reckless abandon.  If you want to drink pink wine with ice in it, wear a Twilight t-shirt, listen to Destiny’s Child, and watch a Julia Roberts marathon, then do it.  If a dewd has a problem with it, tell him you don’t fucking care what he thinks, and that he can either be nice to you or he can fucking leave.

Under no circumstances should you apologize for liking the things you like.

Because I can assure you he is not even remotely apologetic about all the dewd things he likes, like drinking cheap shit beer and building a fart collage on the couch cushions, wearing a stained Stone Cold Steve Austin t-shirt and crusty-crotched basketball shorts in public and pretending it’s not their dirty pajamas, listening to the aforementioned Pantera, and watching a stupid Fast and Furious Part 12 movie for the tenth time with his asshole friends who spend more money on their personal sword collections than they do on paying their grandma the rent they’ve owed her for the past ten years*.

And if you’re a woman who just happens to like Pantera, that’s cool, too.  Like what you like, and never apologize.


*This is a hypothetical dewd.  It’s certainly not about twenty dewds I used to know.**

**Yes, it is.  It is not actually hypothetical.