Last Wednesday night, Josh called from a bar in Austin, sounding discouraged and frustrated. He had lost the email list.
Let me tell you about the email list. At every show, there is a spiral-bound notebook found at the merchandise table with the words "EMAIL LIST" scrawled at the top. Here, you can sign up to receive periodic information about the band. The band promises not to sell, distribute, or use your email address for anything but communications about the band itself. Well, they don't explicitly make that promise anywhere, but I'm sure they wouldn't. I am on the email list, though I don't recall signing up. In fact, I resent the email list, just a little bit, because after shows, Josh walks around the crowd with it, asking people to sign up. I would rather he be spending that time with me since I just spent an hour and a half watching him from the audience, but, then again, I am very selfish.
I confess that I do not entirely understand the importance of the email list. I mean, yeah, it's a good idea to let people know about shows so they'll come out, but I can't help thinking that a good percentage of people just ignore them. We are all badgered with so many emails, letting us know that Nine West is having a sale, that someone has written on our Facebook wall, that your mom's birthday is in two days. At some point you get tired of actually reading them and it's an automatic delete delete delete. But these emails must work to some extent. I'm not saying that the band shouldn't have an email list, just I'm not sure how much good it actually does.
I think there might be a souvenir aspect to it, and also some indication of progress, of having achieved something. See, here, according to this page, they played a show in Arcata, California, and they got 15 email addresses. They have 15 fans in Arcata. That is 15 more than they had two months ago. It's tiring to drive around the country and play in bars that are empty or bars that are full, but here you have this notebook, full of names that prove that you're doing something.
Something happened to the email list on the last tour. I was never really clear on the details, whether it was lost or stolen by another band. I was sort of skeptical about the idea of another band stealing a ratty notebook full of the email addresses of bar patrons, but I've already admitted that I don't get the importance of the list in the first place. Maybe it is important, and it's not just my boyfriend and his band who hold it in such regard. Also, the guys in that other band were jerks.
Back to last Wednesday, when my sweet man called from far away and sounded like someone had stomped on his puppy. He had left the notebook sitting next to a computer terminal at Kinkos, where they had gone to print out flyers to hand out to advertise for the show. He was so angry with himself, as if he had stomped on his own puppy. The loss of the email list seemed to make the whole last two months mean nothing. They went nowhere, they got no new fans. They might as well have sat in the van, parked in my driveway.
He said he called me to make himself feel better. While that stroked my ego, I also suddenly felt pressured to say something helpful, uplifting, reassuring. So I told him that I had watched an episode of Faerie Tale Theatre with Leonard Nimoy cast as an Arab. For some reason, that made him feel better. I don't really understand how my charms work, but I'm not complaining. The conversation turned back to the email list and to Kinkos. I asked whether he had called the copy shop to see if they had found it. He'd called, but the number was apparently some corporate line. In a strange town, the fifteenth largest in the US, they had no idea which Kinkos they had used, nor were they sure they could find it again.
I went to my computer and looked up the Kinkos in Austin, Texas. Just so you know, there are 34. I asked where they had been driving, some description of the place so I could narrow the field down. He remembered an interstate (or maybe it was a highway? with an 8 in the number?), and there was an MLK highway in there somewhere. The Kinkos had been in a tiny, run-down strip mall, and there was a gas station next door. I picked out Kinkos locations near Highway 183 and then looked them up on Google Street View to see if they matched his description. The first one was in an old strip mall near a hospital, but no gas station. Another one was in a large shopping center. Still another was on a downtown street corner. Finally, I found 9222 Burnet Road, near Highway 183.
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"Was the strip mall kind of beige, with a blue stripe?"
"That sounds about right."
"And there's a Chevron station across the street, and an auto body paint shop next door?"
"I don't know, maybe. There was definitely a gas station next door."
"Man, gas was cheap the day they took this picture."
The shop had already closed for the evening (some of them stay open until 11 pm or even all night), but they opened at 7 the next morning. He memorized the address. He thanked me, we hung up, he went and played a show and I read a couple chapters in a book and went to sleep. When I woke up Thursday morning, I thought about writing this blog entry and how my mom would think it was just so neat, isn't technology wonderful?
As I was writing that last paragraph, I realized that I didn't know how it ended. So I decided to call him up to find out, because my readers would want to know. They'd gone to the Kinkos at 9222 Burnet Road and searched high and low, but no old notebook. Josh even got into the dumpster to look for it, and they left a phone number with the shop employees in case it turned up. The email list was gone.
No amount of Arabic Leonard Nimoys could make him feel better, but that's the way it goes. We'd done the best we could. Though I don't quite get the importance of the email list, I know it's important to him, and it broke my heart to hear him be so hard on himself. Modern technology can help me find a Kinkos in an old strip mall next to a gas station in Austin, but it counts for nothing when I want to reach across the country and give my poor, dejected boyfriend a hug.