Tom Jones's Water Glasses

Tom’s requests were not modest, and I had a hell of a time finding a specific kind of Welsh beer, as well as some Welsh whiskey I’d never heard of.

We were bamboozled into taking the job by a smooth-talking technical director with a pencil-thin mustache and a penchant for weirdness. How else do I explain my summer at the Cape Cod Melody Tent? Julio and I needed some legitimate theater work to put on our résumés, and the $50 a week they paid us was barely enough money to drink on. That is, once we figured out we could drive my dad’s pint-sized trailer to Hyannis, MA, from Chicago…and live in it under the guise of the “security” shack for the theater.

The summer started slowly as we hung the lights and sound equipment and got the ancient turntable stage running again. But come the Fourth of July, it was a new act almost every day—and that’s when my brushes with fame came fast and furious.

But the highlight of the summer arrived in the form of a singer who, at the time, I really knew nothing about: Tom Jones.

I was handling hospitality for that show, which meant I was responsible for making the star trailer look like less of a dump, and filling it with all the food and drink that Tom had requested in the rider of his contract. Tom’s requests were not modest, and I had a hell of a time finding a specific kind of Welsh beer, as well as some Welsh whiskey I’d never heard of. But a contract is a contract, so when Tom arrived he got what he wanted. He was doing two nights, and we had been warned about a few key items.

1) Water. He is very energetic, and he needs several pint glasses of water during each act of the show.

2) Electricity. We needed to make sure that we carefully sealed the center electrical outlets because Tom sweats, a lot, and we didn’t want him to get electrocuted.

I took care of the water in the glasses. Julio fixed the stage.

After the first night, as the audience was leaving, I wandered onto the stage to clear the glasses. And yes indeed, the center of the stage was a little damp with eau de Jones.

As I was hauling the empty pint glasses off the stage, a woman approached me.

“Can I have that?” she asked, motioning to one of the glasses in my hand.

I paused.

“I’ll give you five dollars.”

I had seen how some of the ladies behaved during the show, so I wasn’t surprised at this level of idolatry.

“Twenty,” I replied without a blink. Come on, we were poor stagehands, and $20 would buy a lot of beer or vodka.

She didn’t even hesitate and handed me the cash. I considered trying to hawk the rest of the glassware before thinking better of it.


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