(Lesson 2 in the How To Look Foolish series shows how Tom, in an effort to be comfortable, encountered what I am sure was his most embarrassing moment.)
Don’t Leave Home Without ‘Em
In July of 2007 we were playing a series of shows at places we had been playing for many previous summers. The Adirondack Bluegrass League Roundup in June would kick things off and in no particular order we would be off for Unadilla, Cohoes, Mechanicville, Pathfinder Village, Thurman, Downtown Albany for a lunchtime show and the Village of Schodack to name a few.
On July 31 we all met at Tom’s house to head over to the Village of Schodack Town Park for a show. The park off of RT. 150 in the village was a wonderful place to play music. There was a large pavilion where we set up and play. The audience brought lawn chairs and blankets to sit on, and there was food and drinks available. The concerts were always very well attended, and it was just a great place to play music on a summer night.
The ride to Schodack would generally take about twenty to twenty-five minutes, so we planned on pulling out of Tom’s driveway at around four-thirty or so to be at the site by five pm. That would give us plenty of time to set up, do a sound check and relax a bit before our six pm start time. I arrived first, and Joe and Walt shortly after. Tom had decided to mow his lawn before we left, so he was scurrying around getting himself together. We ended up leaving a little later than we wanted to, close to five, but still knew we had plenty of time.
The traffic slowed us down some, so that when we finally arrived in Schodack, it was nearly five-thirty. We still weren’t concerned as we had set up in far less time on many occasions. We quickly unloaded our gear, and while Joe and Walt began to set up Tom pulled me aside and matter of factly said “I have to go back home.”……..”Why?” I asked. “I forgot to put my teeth in before we left” he replied sheepishly. As I tried to contain my own laughter, Tom also asked me to “Don’t tell Joe or Walt.”, because he knew that if they found out the ensuing jokes and teasing would be relentless………so he parked and unhooked the trailer and sped off in a cloud of dust to retrieve his forgotten dentures. We now had twenty minutes before we were to start, and I was pretty certain Tom wasn’t going to make it back in time.
(Tom had a habit of taking his dentures out when he was at home or when he knew he wasn’t going to be in public. At practice, driving to a show or just hanging out at home he never had them in. When I asked him once why, he said that they hurt some when they were in his mouth, and he was much more comfortable with them out. I once tried to explain that by taking them out his gums would never adjust and he would always have a problem. He would have none of that and assured me his way worked just fine. I don’t know if there was ever another instance of him leaving them behind of not.)
Walt, Joe and I finished setting up, and while doing so asked where Tom had gone. I explained his dilemma, and their reaction was a mix of laughter and resignation that we would have to start without Tom. I also needed to try and stall for time, so I informed the event organizer, who was the also the Town Supervisor, that we might have to begin a little late because Tom had forgotten his finger-picks. When she said that it would be okay I was somewhat relieved, but as six pm came and went and the clock was showing six-ten, we decided to start without Tom. So we grabbed our instruments and began to get ready to play. As we were being introduced I saw out of the corner of my eye the black Tahoe pulling in. We began playing our first song, and as we did Tom was getting his banjo tuned. At precisely the time he was to take a solo, he walked up to his mike and began playing.
When we finished the song, and while the audience was applauding we all looked in Tom’s direction grinning like Cheshire cats. He in turn acted like nothing out of the ordinary had happened…………..He had made the round trip to Rotterdam and back in twenty five minutes. I have no idea how fast he drove, but it amazes me to this day he didn’t get pulled over for speeding.
The ride home after the show was filled with denture jokes, and from that point on whenever we left to go to a gig, the most important question was “Hey Tom, got yer teeth?” followed by uncontrollable laughter.