My trip to Appleton, Wisconsin was my first since the latest unpleasantries in England changed the travel rules. Anticipating a mess at BNA, I left for the airport a couple hours before my 8:30 flight.
I was pleased to discover that security took all of about three minutes, so I found myself in a sleep-deprived (depraved?) haze waiting at the gate. I had checked everything to avoid delays, so I basically stared at the inside of my eyelids until we boarded.
The trip to Detroit was uneventful and quick. After I sprinted across several terminals to make my connection, I settled in to wait for the next boarding call.
As usual, this was a tiny plane with about thirty passengers waiting in the gate. The majority of them were who you would expect to be traveling to Appleton…slightly plump, freshly scrubbed, cheese curd-eating, sensible Midwesterners. But I noticed a peculiar cadre of outliers.
Huddled in the corner of the gate looking extremely uncomfortable and nicotine-starved were about five or six guys with black fingernails, mohawks or reverse mohawks wearing leather pants and biker boots. They looked anxiously nervous, and I couldn’t figure out why. “Maybe they’re scared of really small planes,” I guessed.
It was the Buddy Holly Syndrome as I found out.
By the time we took off, I had overheard that Joan Jett was playing in Appleton and this was her band. They took up the back two rows of the puddle-jumper and kept to themselves for the short flight.
I got off the plane before they did and made my way toward baggage claim. As I left the secured area, I encountered a perky middle-aged cruise director type wearing a yellow foam cheesehead hat and holding up a small white dry-erase board reading “Blackhardt.”
“Are you Mr. Blackhardt?” she asked each person as they passed.
“Nope,” I replied. “But I think who you’re waiting for is right behind me.”
Her eyes grew wide as the musicians finally got their swagger on and strutted down the ramp. One of the boldest ones made the universal rocker devil horn gesture with both hands in the air and exclaimed, “Hello Fox River Vaaaalllley!”
Cheesehead lady recoiled as if punched inthe gut. Then she recovered quickly. “Well there certainly are a lot of you all. Do you have a lot of luggage?”
“We’re a f*cking rock and roll band,” Devil Fingers spat. “Of corse we have a lot of f*cking luggage!”
“Well is much of it oversized? I only brought the Taurus.”
“Just our amps, my bass and his drums. I don’t think your clit-Taurus can handle us, baby.”
“Well then I’ll just go rent us a minivan. Wait here fellas,” she replied earnestly, and put the complimentary welcome cheesehead on the aggro-boy’s head.