Authors: Alison Cole
Play With You. 1st Edition Copyright © Alison Cole Publishing 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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am beyond fed up! Our band just finished the last concert in our first tour throughout England. The focus should be on our music - right? Not any individual member, whether vocalist or musician - right? Well, she did it again. Gemma, our other female vocalist, decided that the audience attention should be solely on her. Know what she did? She lifted her top at the end of her song. She went braless tonight, so the audience got the full, erm, "benefit" of their view. Nice going, Gemma. You freakin' little exhibitionist, you.
Let me explain who I am and why I take such a dim view of what she did. I'm no prude. Whilst I've never partaken, I have a healthy love of the human body and its sexuality. But I am also very, very much a music lover. For me, steeping myself in and playing music is akin to breathing. Music, to me, is the elixir of life. I cannot live without it in my life. That being said, I hope you'll have just a little more understanding of why I am so involved in a musical career. I'm only twenty years old. At my age, I know I am doing what I was born to do. I consider myself fortunate - not everyone gets this understanding, much less gets to live out their dream of doing what they love. I do. So, when I see a member of our band pulling such a stunt - baring her breasts so the guys can get a cheap, momentary thrill - it aggravates me beyond words. It's not right and I'll be talking to the boys about it. That is for damn sure.
We leave the auditorium and board our bus for home. Every single one of us is deadly quiet. It's not the quiet that comes from being exhausted after giving a performance our all. After a concert, we are usually tired, but wound up. Today, nobody makes a single peep. Except for Miss Exhibitionist, of course. She's nattering on about how the crowd "loved her." I shoot a look over to Tim, our group's leader and motion toward the back of the bus. He follows me there and I shut the partition divider.
"Tim, she did it again! And I'm not talking about that cutesy little 'oops!' thing, either. She grabbed the audience' attention and put it all on her little tits. It was a cheap stunt that's going to make our band a laughing stock all over England. We've warned her about stunts like this and she chose to ignore us. We told her if she did it again, she'd be out. We have to follow through and kick her sorry little arse out. My mum's a kindergarten teacher and she's told me so many times that when you promise a consequence, you have to follow through on it. So it should be with Gemma. When we get back home, call a meeting with all of us and kick her out. If you need to, go ahead and talk to Linny, but I think you'll see that we both feel the same way. Did you feel the tension when we got back on the bus? I'll bet you that it's still deadly quiet in the front," I say.
"Johanna, I agree, but I do want to talk to Linny and get a feel for what he thinks. I had already decided that when we get home, I'd be calling a group meeting to talk about Gemma. What she did was wrong. I dread looking in the Entertainment section of any Brit newspaper tomorrow. All the writing will be about how she flashed her tits at the audience, not about our music and how we performed the newest pieces," Tim says with a long, tired sigh. "In the meantime, don't say anything to Gemma. Just ignore her - if you can. Put your headphones on or read or something. Just...pretend she's not on this bus."
"That won't be easy, but it would be worse to have a flaming row on board. I'll turn the volume up and start working on the gifts I'm making. Thanks, Tim." I give him a quick kiss on his forehead. He's like my big, older brother. Back at the front, Gemma is still prattling on about how the guys in the audience loved her.
"Did'ja see how those blokes in the front rows all went nuts when I lifted my top? They nearly climbed onto the stage! I'll bet you this gets us the publicity..."
When she says this, I switch my iPod on and turn the volume up. I want to unload on her, but Tim was right. With my earbuds securely in my ears, I begin listening to some gypsy fusion music and pull my latest crochet project out. I can easily lose myself in this - and that's what I need right now. I try to see if I can hear Gemma's voice through the music. No. I can't. Before I start working, I look at Linny and give him a slight shake of my head. He looks like he's about to blow. He nods once to acknowledge my message and abruptly moves to the back of the bus. I grin inside as I see Gemma's look of confusion. If the situation weren't potentially so dire, I'd be laughing like a loon.
As I crochet, I think about how life has gone for me since I joined the group - swimmingly. I am doing what the God meant for me to do - learn music and sing the songs we write. I don't care about the groupies throwing themselves at me. Yeah, some of them are nice looking, but I'm looking for more than just physical attraction in a relationship. I've dated, sure, but nothing serious. I want to love and be loved.
Now that I can't hear Gemma wondering why Linny left the front of the bus so abruptly, I focus totally on the cap I'm making for my sister's newest little one. It's a lovely cap, made of the softest yarn in blue, green, yellow and pink. She and her husband want to wait to find out the baby's sex when he or she is born. That's fine with me, because I get to fiddle around with more yarn colors. Next up - an afghan made from the same yarns. If our group doesn't fall apart after Gemma's exhibitionism, I'll have lots of time on the bus to work on it. Slowly, I wind down from the high of the concert and, after a few hours, I'm nearly done with the small cap. I tie a knot in the last stitch and put everything away. After pulling my favorite afghan out, I cover up and drift off to sleep, lulled by the motion of the bus...
We get home late the next morning and Tim announces a meeting for that evening.
"No practice. Instead, we'll talk about some issues and make a few badly needed decisions. Be at the studio no later than five-thirty tonight, everyone," Tim said. Tellingly, he doesn't look at Gemma.
At home, I fly around, washing my dirty clothing and tidying up my apartment. It's not too cold outside, so I throw open two windows to blow out the stuffiness and make the place smell good again. After eating dinner, I check the time. Throwing a jacket on, I grab a notebook and pen, then board the subway. As I ride, I write down several notes to myself - notes I want to mention as we meet about Gemma's stunts in the group. God, I hope we fire her!
In the studio, the mood is much like it was on the bus last night - quiet and foreboding. I grab a chair and switch my iPod on again as I see - and hear - Miss Exhibitionist nattering on about the possible topics for the meeting. She thinks she's about to be given a larger role in the band. Not likely. Before I got busy with my cleaning, I read a review in the London Times. It was not a good review. Mine and Tim's fears were realized - Gemma's tit-flashing has made our band the butt of many bad jokes. I brought that review with me in my messenger bag.
"Okay, everyone, let's get started," Tim says. "First, to most of you - well-done! We carried off a kick-ass tour, audiences throughout England loved us and we had a great uptick in our new CD and band sales. Johanna, you played the keys damned perfectly, as usual, and damn, you carried off those vocals. Bravo! Linny, you absolutely killed it on the drums and the audiences loved your solos. Gemma, when you weren't pulling stunts, you did a wonderful job on the bass - and that's why we're here tonight. We've talked to you in past about your tit-baring stunt. We're a serious band and we play serious music. We all have extensive musical training and we aren't a band that was put together in someone's garage in the byways of the U.K. In short, Gemma, we don't need nudity to get more publicity for the band."
Here, I pull out the review I found in the London Times. I see Tim and Linny pulling out different newspapers as well, all turned to reviews of our completed tour and, very likely, about Gemma's latest stunt. As it turns out, I'm right.
"Gemma, I found a review in the paper - a tabloid. Today, our band is a laughing stock. All the good reputation we built up over the past nine months - gone. Johanna, what paper do you have and what does it say?" Tim asks me.
"I picked up a copy of the London Times. All the good performances and concerts have been overshadowed by Gemma's tits at the end of the concert last night. And the reporter went through their archives and found coverage of her other tit-baring stunts. 'Laughing stock' doesn't begin to touch it, Tim. Music is the essence of my life, Gemma - it's my reason for being. I was accepted into, and graduated from, one of the top music academies in all of Great Britain. My goal has only ever been to be a serious musician and vocalist. Here, I have that opportunity - only to see you ruin all the hard work our band has done by flashing your fucking tits. We're being laughed at and trashed as if we were some garage band. And that doesn't feel one damn bit good. I talked to Tim last night and I told him exactly how I feel. Did you feel how awkward the bus ride was last night? That was us holding in our anger so we wouldn't ruin the trip home. D'you know what kinds of groups do that, Gemma? Amateur garage bands that don't take themselves seriously - and you are welcome to leave our group and join one of those groups if you feel that a display of your tits is so necessary," I say with sharp anger.
Gemma rolls her eyes.
"Gemma, Johanna is right. What you did last night was...well, for me, it was the last straw. I'm not going to say anything beyond that because Johanna touched on everything. Sadly, you proved once again last night that you are no professional. The behaviors you've indulged in are unwelcome in our band and...you're fired, effective tonight. I'll mail your cut of our proceeds when the bank releases the check to us," said Tim. "Oh, here, take this. If this is what you insist upon doing, this is the kind of public treatment you can expect to receive." Tim throws the tabloid at Gemma. I follow through and throw the review I found at her.