AND THE BAND PLAYED ON
Today was the last day of a tour that took them through 42 states during the past eleven months. Both band and crew members were exhausted. It was grueling work – the crew had to put up and take down the equipment and stage effects every single day at each venue, and for the band performing on stage for two/three hours, a night under those blazing hot lights when temperatures often reached over 100+ degrees was anything but glamorous. Outsiders thought the life of performers was all glitz and glamor. That’s because they were looking at it from the outside in, not the other way around. Being on the road and away from home was not easy. The money was phenomenal, but it meant little sleep, lousy food and cramped quarters; and it was hell on relationships.
He looked out over the audience and even with the lights shining in his eyes, he saw her; he always played to one girl only. However, this time, she was real, not the imaginary version he had pictured over the last couple of years. Right now, he was not 44 years old but 26 and remembering.
SIXTEEN YEARS EARLIER
Rowdy bought a ranch, Rivers’ Roost, in the hill country of Texas. He planned to retire there once his musical career was over. It was his place to unwind and forget about being a “country rock” star. During one of his extended stays between road trips, he met Cindy Travers. Cindy was working behind the counter in Johnson’s Feed and Supply. Born and raised in Odessa, she was a cowgirl in the real sense of the word, not the Hollywood version. She was sweet and down to earth and had no idea that he was part of Rivers Rangers, a famous country rock group, which suited him just fine. One of the things he loved about this part of Texas was that no one cared about his fame, 95% of them never made the connection, so he could live as normal folks did while he was there. His dates with Cindy consisted of going on picnics, horseback rides, evenings at the drive-in theater, an occasional visit to one of the local bars if there was a live band, stuff he hadn’t done since he was a teenager.
On one of their nights out, a Rivers Rangers song was playing on the radio, and Cindy was singing along. The DJ announced that the group, along with several other bands, were giving a concert for The Children’s Network at the Fort Worth Convention Center and that tickets were available.
“I sure would love to see those guys in concert. I listen to them all the time. They are one of the few groups I would travel to Fort Worth to see."
“Really, do you know anything about them?” Rowdy asked.
“Other than they’ve been around a while and play great music, not much. I know there're four of them, but I don’t even know what they look like.”
He loved her innocence and hoped that what he told her would not change anything between them.
“You’re right, Cindy, there are four of them. Two of them are brothers and the other two childhood friends.”
“So you must like them too if you know about them.” Rowdy was still in awe of her naivete.
“Oh yeah, I know all about them. If you want to go to the concert, I can get you a front-row seat and a backstage pass?”
“I would love it, but it would be too expensive.”
“On the contrary, it won’t cost me a dime.”
“How can that be?” she asked.
“I’m Randy Rivers of Rivers Rangers.”
“No, you are not; your name is Rowdy.” Rowdy laughed.
“Yes, Rowdy Rivers but my real name is Randy. Rowdy is just a nickname my mom gave me as a kid, and it stuck. My longtime friends and all of my family call me Rowdy, but my given name is Randy. Think about it for just a minute. The name of my ranch is Rivers’ Roost, and my last name is Rivers.”
“But you’re so normal,” she told him.
“When I’m here with you, I’m normal. My other life is anything but normal. We’ll go to the concert, and you will see what I mean.”
She came to the concert and couldn’t believe how different everything was from home. There were what seemed like thousands of people clamoring for his time and attention. Girls of every make and model were all throwing bras, and undies, trying to stuff things in his pocket, people pulling him this way and that for a picture. She was overwhelmed and couldn’t wait to get out of there. He saw the panic on her face and quickly had his manager remove her from the havoc and take her to a quiet place.
“How do you cope with this turmoil? This is craziness. She asked him when he finally joined her.”
“Yes, it is, but I wanted you to see what my life was like when I’m not with you.”
What Cindy saw was just a fraction of what usually occurred backstage. Appalled didn’t even begin to describe the way she felt seeing the way grown men and women behaved. People were sniffing cocaine, smoking marijuana, drinking booze straight out of the bottle like a soft drink, lying on couches and chairs, in various stages of undress doing things that shouldn’t be done in public. If she dressed or acted like some of those young girls, her daddy would have taken a strap to her backside and wouldn’t have cared that she was an adult woman. So embarrassed, she couldn’t wait to get away from there.
On their way home after the concert, Rowdy asked what she thought.
“I loved the concert itself. The music was fabulous, but I couldn’t believe some of the things that went on backstage and in the dressing rooms. I can’t believe people act like that in public. Thank Goodness, Rivers Rangers behave themselves."
“I don’t want you to think we are angels. Back when we started out, we were pretty raucous too. We’ve just mellowed in the last five or six years,” he told her.
“I like the way you are now. I could never be like those girls, and if that’s what you want or expect, I don’t think we should be together,” she told him.
“Believe me; that is not what I want anymore. As I said, I used to indulge when I was young, not because I necessarily wanted to, but because I could. Now, the thought alone turns my stomach. I can’t wait to get out of that scene after we’ve finished playing. Trust me; it’s not what I want. As a matter of fact, if you ever tried acting like any of those girls, or doing any of those things in public like that, I would bare your bottom and spank the devil out of you, right then and there.”
She giggled. “You think I’m kidding?” he asked her.
“No, I giggled because earlier when I saw how those girls were carrying on, I said to myself that my daddy would strap my bottom if he ever found out. I’m not sure he wouldn’t strap my bottom for being present while those things are happening.”
“He might do it, but he would have to stand in line behind me.”
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