“Hey Duane, you know why there’s always peanut butter backstage at rock shows?”

We all groan. “Not this shit again,” Matt shakes his head and laughs. “He can’t seriously fall for it a second time,” I try to reason. But there is no reasoning with Duane.

About seven years ago, my dad was bored backstage at a show and decided to kill time by attempting to convince poor, unsuspecting Duane that Early Grey was the former tour manager for Deep Purple, and that Earl Grey tea was always in dressing rooms at gigs and festivals because he retired from the music business and bought a tea plantation. And he was successful in his efforts. The joke went a long way and lasted years. Every band in the festival circuit was aware that we had a roadie who had been told this ridiculous story and they all went along with it. Someone made a fake Wikipedia page about Mr. Grey to show Duane. And the madness culminated at Download in 2011 when my dad pulled aside an old British guy wearing a tweed suit who happened to be backstage and asked him to introduce himself to Duane as Earl Grey. He did. And Duane was so excited to meet him that, after furiously shaking his hand, he asked for a picture together and an autograph.

It wasn’t until A.J.’s wake last March when Duane was finally told the truth. Without A.J. around, it wasn’t that funny anymore. And A.J. would have wanted Duane to know. And the most amazing thing? Duane thought THAT was the lie.

Now here we are on the flight from Copenhagen to Vienna, and my dad has decided to relight the fire.

“It’s because Skippy McFarlane was The Monkees’ producer.”

“Naaaaw,” Duane insists. “You’re fucking with me.” Like it could ACTUALLY still be true.

“Dad, come on!” I shout.

“Duane, you know he’s fucking with you. He was fucking with you over Early Grey, too,” Matt says.

“Nah man I got my pitcha [how Duane pronounces ‘picture’] with Early Grey. I believe that. That was real.”

“Danny, come on, man. Stop…” I hear from behind me. It’s Armadillo. He drew the short (literally, he’s 5’ 2”) straw this flight, sitting next to Mark and in front of Danny. Danny is busy shaking his seat while Mark is poking him. Then Mark decides Armadillo really needs to read the in-flight magazine, so he whacks him in the face with it. Then he whacks me in the face it. While Danny starts reaching over to rub his hands all over Armadillo’s face, Mark starts incessantly tapping Matt’s head.

And this is how we spend an hour and a half, as we hurtle through the air at 550 miles per hour. Duane and Russell promptly fall asleep, mouths hanging wide open, and get at least 50 photos taken of them. Poor Armadillo experiences – in turn – water boarding, wet willies, seat shaking, and monkey bites, except for the few minutes in which Mark chooses to turn his attention to me or Matt to poke us until we pay attention to him.

I feel so bad for the rest of the people on this flight.

Featured photo: The fear in Armadillo’s eyes when he realised who he had to sit next to.


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