How could I have let this happen? I was just so excited that either of these guys was willing to talk with me that I didn’t realize my blunder until it was too late. I could try and reschedule one of them, but there was already so much back and forth I’m worried if I move one it will never happen. I suppose the right thing to do would be to hand one to another writer, but fuck that. These are both my dream interviews, and I refuse to choose.
Fuck it, I’m going for it. I’ll just say I have IBS or something so when I leave a lot to change from my J Mascis interview clothes to my Henry Rollins interview clothes and back it won’t be weird. Here goes nothing!
THE HARD TIMES: Mr. Mascis, it’s an absolute pleasure to meet you. Dinosaur Jr. was everything to me in college.
J MASCIS: Cool man, always nice to meet a…
I have IBS.
Oh. Uhm, okay. So, no interview?
No no no! I just mean like, if I get up to go to the bathroom a lot, that’s why. It’s not weird, okay?
So J — can I call you J? Tell me about what influenced your trademark vocal-fry style of singing.
Shh! Do you hear that? I know that voice. I think Henry Rollins is at this restaurant! Hey, you want me to go get him? We could do like a double interview or…
NO! Ah, no, no haha, sorry that’s just my uh…ah, my ringtone! Yeah, my ringtone is Henry Rollins, haha. Oh, look at that, Mom called again. She can wait.
Didn’t sound like a song. It sounded like he was ordering food.
It’s spoken word.
Your ringer for when your Mom calls is Henry Rollins spoken word?
Yup. Anyway, gotta run to the bathroom J. Be right back!
Cool, sure, whatever.
I dive into the small fake plant garden in the center of the restaurant where I’ve stashed my change of clothes. As I remove the jeans, flannel shirt and Misfits t-shirt I chose to interview J Mascis in and put on the jeans, flannel shirt and Misfits t-shirt I choose for my Rollins interview, it occurs to me that I probably should have taken J Mascis up on his offer to get Rollins for a double interview. Would have solved all of my problems, actually. But, too late now. I’m in too deep and I gotta commit.
THE HARD TIMES: Mr. Rollins! Absolute honor to meet you. Love everything you do.
HENRY ROLLINS: Well thank you very much. Woah, did you run here or something man? You’re all sweaty and out of breath!
Haha oh, wow that’s funny. Uh, no. I have IBS.
So, Mr. Rollins…
You can call me Hank.
Hank! Talk to me about what influenced your trademark vocal-fry style of singing.
Vocal-fry? That’s not really what I do. Kinda more of a J Mascis thing.
Fuck, wrong question! I mean, yeah, I was kidding! Obviously that question was intended for J Mascis. Who I hope to meet. Someday.
He lives around here! If you want I can give him a call and see if he’ll come down for a double…
NO! Ah, no, haha, thank you. That’s really too much. What I meant to ask you was, what’s it like to be a renaissance man?
Ha, well, that’s a little grandiose isn’t it? I’m not sure I would go around calling myself that. Is that just what we call any artist who does more than one thing now? Have we as a culture become so zombified and watered down that… Hey, wait a second. I think I hear J Mascis ordering food! We should…
NO! No, sorry, that’s my ringtone. Ugh, Mom, shut up already. It’s spoken word.
J Mascis is doing spoken word now?
I dive back to the plants. It is only now as I change back into my J Mascis interview clothes that I realize a wardrobe change was completely unnecessary. I must have seen it on a sitcom and not questioned it until just now. Of course, now that they’ve both seen me wearing different outfits, gotta stick to it. Can’t fuck this up!
THE HARD TIMES: Hey J, sorry about that.
J MASCIS: You changed your shirt.
That’s not the same Misfits t-shirt you had on before.
I look down. He’s right. Fuck.
I have IBS.
Does that mean you shat on your t-shirt?
What? No! I mean…Yes. That’s what happened.
Oh. Well, good thing you had another Misfits t-shirt with you.
Always do! So J, do you feel like your later-day musical output has finally outgrown the shadow of your time with Black Flag?
I was never in Black Flag, man! You really got Rollins on the brain, huh?
Fuck! No, I mean, what I meant to ask you is, does classic rock still influence your approach to guitar playing.
Are you sure you’re okay?
Fuck, this just got so much more complicated. Okay, just remember: leave this t-shirt on when you go to change again for Mascis. You got this.
THE HARD TIMES: Sorry that took so long, Hank.
HENRY ROLLINS: You changed your shirt.
Fuck, he’s right. Why the hell did I do that? I feel dizzy.
IBS. Talk about the way classic rock from the ’50s and ’60s influenced your guitar playing style.
I don’t really play guitar, man. Did you shit on your shirt?
No. I mean, sure. But what I meant was, in what ways are acting and fronting a band similar?
Where did you find another Misfits t-shirt so fast? Something doesn’t add up here.
Jesus. I can’t believe I fucked this up so bad so fast. Okay, no more mistakes. Let’s ditch this dumb t-shirt, put on the right one and head back. Hopefully J Mascis hasn’t bailed yet.
THE HARD TIMES: Sorry again J, you know how IBS can be.
J MASCIS: That’s the shirt you shit on.
You’re wearing the t-shirt you first had on. The one you said you shit on.
You have to be fucking kidding me.
I can explain.
Save it. I’m not doing an interview with a guy who wears shit-covered shirts. Those days are over for me.
Okay look, cards on the table, Henry Rollins is here. I accidentally double-booked you guys, and I thought I could pull off the whole sitcom double-date thing. That’s why I kept changing my clothes.
That doesn’t really explain why you changed your clothes. And how did you get lipstick all over your collar?
I honestly don’t know.
Okay, well, I guess I can respect the hustle.
Why don’t I just come clean to Rollins, and maybe you guys can do that double interview?
No way man! I know Hank, he hates liars! That’s why he wrote that song, “Liar.” If you tell him you’ve been lying this whole time he’s gonna flip out!
I’ve got an idea. Go back to interviewing Rollins. And remember, don’t change your t-shirt!
There can be no mistakes this time. Here goes nothing.
THE HARD TIMES: Sorry for keeping you waiting, Hank.
HENRY ROLLINS: That’s the shirt you got shit on.
What? Oh, god dammit, why did I listen to him? He didn’t know about the other fuck-ups!
Just what in the hell is going on here?!
I can explain everything.
I have no idea what I’m going to say to Rollins, and it doesn’t matter because here comes J Mascis in an apron with a drawn-on mustache for some reason?
J MASCIS: Good ev-a-ning Messieurs, may I int-a-rest anyone in our fabulous tasting menu?
J Mascis winks at me, but his face changes expression quickly, as if suddenly he cannot remember why he thought this would work, or what he thought it would accomplish in the first place.
HENRY ROLLINS: We already ordered. And this is not a french restaurant. And you’re J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr.
Rollins turns to me slowly with cold, enraged eyes. There is no doubt about it. He knows everything. I shamefully remove the wig I’ve been wearing this entire time for some reason. Without breaking my gaze he slowly reaches for his wine glass, holds it up a moment, then throws the wine into my face.
HENRY ROLLINS: Enjoy interviewing yourself tonight. You’re a real pig, you know that? Come on J, we’re outta here.
Rollins storms off indignantly. Mascis shrugs and follows him. I blew it. I am crestfallen. My best friend, a nerdy teenage inventor from Chicago, sits down to comfort me.
STEVE URKEL: Look on the bright side, buddy. At least you didn’t really shit yourself!
Immediately upon hearing Urkel say this, my real IBS flares up.
THE HARD TIMES: Check please!