The Idaho Story by Amy Bleu

Amy Bleu

My band and I were nearing the end of a one week tour of the Northwest, and heading to a small college town in Northern Idaho. We had a volunteer roadie (which is extremely rare for us). He is someone very close to us so I cannot reveal his identity for fear of embarrassing him as this story progresses. I had eaten a small lunch and was not the mood for digging into my snack stash, which included vegan minty creme-filled chocolate cookies, roasted garlic flavored soy crisps, and tortilla chips. I figured the guys would all want dinner, too, so I suggested a pit stop. My bass player/husband and our roadie said they had eaten a hearty, late lunch and were still full. My accordionist stated that he’d had a giant lunch earlier and was still full, but might have a snack once we got to the venue.

We were going to be performing for three hours. I’d hoped we could set up quickly enough to allow for time to eat at the bar, if there was indeed anything I could stomach there, which as it turned out there was not. We also had some technical issues during set up/sound check, so there no time to break for food before the first set. Luckily our accordionist, Adam, was going to start the night off with a solo set, under his moniker, Bellows Bot. I told him I was going to run outside and look for something to eat really quick while he played, and asked if I could pick up anything for him. He said no, but asked if I could look in the car for a protein bar he’d left in there. I went out to the car and couldn’t find his protein bar but I found a fruit snack bar that my husband Matt had left in the car so I grabbed that. Then I headed off in search of vegan food.

I walked a couple of blocks and saw nothing open. A few people were walking my way so I asked them if they knew of any place that served food and was still open. They said there was a bagel place just another block away that stayed open until three AM. When I got there, my mouth already watering, I surveyed the menu and found a bagel sandwich which sounded healthy and vegan: loads of veggies, no cream cheese, no mention of any other kinds of dairy. I ordered that one and headed back to the bar with it. As soon as I sat down at our booth I tore open the wrapper and began to wolf it down. About half way into it, I began to wonder what was making it taste like something that had been scraped off of the bottom of our car tire. I opened the sandwich and found that it had been smeared with mayonnaise! I tried to reason with myself. I was already half-way done with my first beer of the night and would surely want to have a few more. I hadn’t eaten much else and there was no other food around. I had already eaten half of this disgusting sandwich. I figured, I might as well finish it. Three/fourths of the way through, however, I found I could not go on. My stomach felt ill and I lost my appetite.

As I silently cursed the entire town of Moscow, Bellows Bot finished his set, and I offered him the snack bar. I don’t remember whether he ate it or not. Once I finished my beer I began to get pretty tipsy, ostensibly due to my lack of nourishment. Great, I thought, and now it’s time to go on stage. I swore off booze for my first set, then hit the bottle again once our second set started. When the show was over I got very inebriated. My level of drunkenness was only surpassed by our roadie’s level. He was only 22, too, so he was a drinking rookie. We piled into the van, and then the roadie and I raided my bag of snacks. We indiscriminately tossed chips, cookies and soy crisps into our mouths, all the while laughing about non-sense while Matt and Adam were in the front behaving like adults. I started to get tired and nod off, when suddenly I hear an awful noise. I opened my eyes and was alarmed to find vomit on my shoes and all over the backseat of the car. We pulled over so our roadie friend could continue to empty his stomach. Then we pulled over two more times. That combined with the snow on the road added an additional ninety minutes to a ninety minute drive. Three hours later we arrived back in Spokane where we were all staying. I vowed to continue to push for meals for myself and my crew before shows, and to never mix snacks while drinking.

Amy Bleu is a performing songwriter from Portland, Oregon.

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