Go ask the ox

In 1992, we were offered two shows in Portugal, a country we’d heretofore never visited.  I could talk for hours (and in fact have) about this trip, but today will simply focus on the drive from Porto to Lisbon.  The promoter hired a bus to transport all the bands–there were at least four others, but I feel like I have to be forgetting one or seven–save the Legendary Pink Dots, who traveled separately so they could arrive early and soundcheck first.  At some point, one passenger had a brief conversation with the driver, who then pulled over so every man except me and James could leave the bus to pee on the side of the road.  Apparently Portuguese, just one of many languages I don’t speak, has no words to express, “You know, we’re stopping in less than five minutes for lunch.”  Stomachs full and back on the road, we drove straight past a sign which seemed to suggest that travelers to Lisbon might want to turn left.  Ever naive, I assumed the driver knew a shortcut or that buses were not allowed on that highway, or perhaps he just wanted to see how long it would be before the road we were on would narrow and cease to be paved.  Turned out, not long at all.  Confounding gender stereotypes, our male driver did not hesitate to ask directions . . . of a couple standing in their front yard with their ox.  Though it did not appear that automotives played a large role in their lives, they were nonetheless able to direct us back toward Lisbon.  We eventually arrived at the venue.  The plan was we would have our soundcheck, while the rest of the entourage went to dinner.  But things were running way off schedule and Legendary Pink Dots were nowhere near finished.  We decided to grab what looked like our best chance to eat–in the long version of this story, I explain the complete fiasco of the Porto evening which made us fear that no amount of waiting would result in a soundcheck.  So everyone gets back on the bus to head to the restaurant.  Our driver has wedged himself into a parking lot in such a way that it takes him 15 minutes of maneuvering before he can negotiate an exit.  Then we drive for less than a minute, at which point we have arrived.  We walked back to the venue.  Opening song: “I Heard You Looking.”


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