“Did you see Greg picking at that nasty scab on his arm?” Gretchen asked. She was breathlessly repulsed, her face all bad-smell expression. I hadn’t seen Greg all day but I knew he had taken a spill on his bike a few weeks ago, a crimson bumpy spot forming on his elbow.
“You want to talk about gross?” I asked.
“No! Ewww,” Margo and Gretchen sang back in perfect harmony. Tara walked in wondering what was going on.
“Well since you mentioned it,” I began, “the grossest story I ever heard…”
They leaned in. “No, don’t!” Gretchen blurted. Three smiles were staring at me.
“When I was on one of the tours with Howie Mandel, we used a rock and roll bus instead of flying because he started to be afraid of flying. It was one of those totally tricked out busses with TVs and shag carpeting and all that shit. Our bus driver, I think his name was Dan, had just finished driving David Crosby and his wife on their tour. Dan said that all David and his wife did was stay in the back bedroom all day long, naked, and smoke freebase. Dan said David’s body was covered in sores and his wife used to pick off his scabs and eat them.”
The decibel level of the “Ewwws” and “Gross” fell just short of a fire alarm.
“You are so lying. That never happened,” Tara said.
“No way that happened,” Gretchen agreed.
“Really?” I was smug. I reached for my cell phone, looked up a number, and dialed from the speakerphone on my desk. I thought I’d try the office but Rich, Howie’s assistant, wasn’t there and I left a message.
“See,” Gretchen said, satisfaction in her tone.
“Okay.” I dialed another number, one I knew by heart. A tentative voice answered.
“Hey, buddy. How’s it going?”
“Great. I’ve got three of my colleagues in my office. What can you tell us about David Crosby?”
“You mean eating scabs?” He said it without a single beat of hesitation. The girls screamed in delightful horror. I picked up the phone to talk to Howie.
“That’s all I needed to hear. Thanks, How.”
“Are you still in DC?”
“Yeah. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Okay, cool.” We hung up.
Gretchen playfully smacked my shoulder. Margo was making a finger gag in her throat. Tara pushed back her hair and shook her head.
After a day of feeling like I was wrong about so many things on so many levels, in battle for the smallest concessions from hostile forces, I basked in this moment of victory.