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It was Saturday night when the secret green cell phone rang – and only a few select folks have the number. I was asleep but bolted upright and snatched the phone. "Hello?"
I recognized the voice at once, petulant but whiney; entitled but sneering.
"You know the Red Hot Chili Peppers, right? Personally?" he asked.
"Not as well as I used to. Been a while, and we sorta had a falling out when Chad Smith joined that part-time band with Sammy Hagar. But, yeah, we talk from time to time. Why?"
"Who's Chad Smith?"
I sighed. "He plays drums for the Peppers."
"Oh." A pause and a giggle, then a slurping noise.
"What are you doing and what do you want?" I asked. There was only so long I could put up with this goofball – but, at the same time, I didn't want to piss him off, either. He might be a horrible human, but he's very powerful and there's an outside chance he wants me to ghostwrite some dystopian novels under his name. To "expand my brand," as he puts it.
Another slurp, then: "Sorry," he said, in a tone that wasn't apologetic at all. "I'm kissing a stripper boob."
"You called to tell me that?"
"Hey!" Clearly, a sudden thought had occurred to him. "Who's Sammy Hogan?"
"Hagar. It's Sammy Hagar. He's, uhm, the Red Rocker. He sang for Montrose and Van Halen, and had a big solo career for a while. He wrote a symphony called "I Can't Drive 55." It's reminiscent of Charles Ives."
I cringed as soon as I said it, expecting my young friend to next inquire about Charles Ives. He doesn't know much about music, which is why I was curious about his original Chili Peppers question.
Instead, I heard a gurgling noise and cringed. What part of the stripper was now under attack?
He cleared his throat. "This cough syrup is excellent, dude," he said, drawing out the word "excellent" to emphasize the power of the adjective – and presumably, the power of the cough syrup he was now inhaling. "Something called Romilar CF."
Jeez! I thought they'd stopped making Romilar CF years ago! It showed the young creep's insidious power and massive resources. He'd somehow managed to locate a hidden cache of the stuff -- probably in one of those huge govermnent-secrets warehouses like they show at the end of that first Indiana Jones movie.
Ghostwriting deal or not, I was wary of my caller's increasingly out-there shenanigans and suspect he's headed for big trouble one day. I regretted ever giving him the number to the green phone. I said, sternly, "Okay. Chili Peppers. Why do you want to know?"
After a bark of high-pitched laughter, he said, "Guess what? I called the National Football League and ordered Roger Goodell to NOT let the Red Hot Chili Peppers play their instruments tomorrow night. They have to fake it. HA!"
What was he talking about?! Then it hit me: he was referring to the Super Bowl halftime show, when the band was going to perform a guest stint backing Bruno Mars. The spoiled young weirdo was going to pull a power play and turn the Big Game's concert into a Star Search style pre-taped recitation. Fiendish!
"But … why?" I asked. "Why would you do that? They're great musicians! The matchup of their alt-rock funk and Bruno's smooth and infectious modern R&B could be a rare coup in Super Bowl musical entertainment! The possibilities are astounding!"
"Why? WHY?!" Suddenly his boyish, adenoidal voice turned icy and mean. "I did it because … I CAN …" There was a long trill -- the sweet, evil laugh of a child -- and then Justin Bieber hung up.
As to why Bieber felt the need to call me and share that information before the event, it remains a mystery and he's no longer returning my calls.
But ... for the world at large, the episode I call The Case of the Chili Pepper Air Guitar Fiasco is now officially solved.
As clueless as it still seems all these years later, I enrolled at Baylor University without giving much thought to the fact that it’s a Baptist college and, as such, there would be a lot of attention paid to, well,...