Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mikey

In 1976 there was a remarkable young man who worked for Jon Stainbrook as kind of a gaffer/grip for the theater. His name was Mikey.

Mikey was only about 15 years old, and slight and wiry. His job was to shinny up and down the rafters of the old theater and hang lights, or move scenery, or sweep the lobby, or whatever. During the show each night he helped with the light cues. I think he ran the follow spot. Mikey was a jack of all theater trades, and he was well liked by the cast.

I never knew anything of his family life, but he seemed to spend every waking hour at Dirty Jack’s Theater. His wardrobe seemed limited to jeans and a small collection of tight, long sleeved disco shirts he wore every day. He had curly red hair and a Wyoming attitude: Don’t Fuck With Me. He was something of a legend for having crawled on his belly the entire length of the theater under the floorboards to drag the sound snake or something. The actors were very impressed with that.

When I left the show in ’76 I gave him some records to hold for me. I had no place to pack them. So Mikey became the custodian of my beloved Uriah Heep LPs.

Several years later I returned to Jackson Hole on vacation from SoCal, and I ran into Mikey (he had become “Mike”) in the Snow King Bar. He was the manager of the local commercial laundry that did the linen for all the hotels and inns, a pretty damn good job for a guy in Jackson. He said my records were long gone, but he had played the hell out of them and enjoyed the music.

Its funny. Back in ’76 several of the band members and I became friends with a girl from Arizona named Josie who lived in a trailer near our theater in Jackson. She had a couple of young female roommates, so naturally we called them “Josie and the Pussycats.” Josie was achingly gorgeous, and I remember her vividly. Another thing I remember is that she and her roommates worked that summer at the laundry Mikey would years later come to manage.

I sat in the Snow King sipping a beer with my old friend Mikey, while my slinky SoCal girlfriend entertained herself by attracting notice with her studied nonchalance and careful expressions of bemused detachment. I wondered what ever happened to Josie.