Although we had been in contact more recently, the last time I saw Wes in person was in 1994. It was a year after I’d graduated from Berklee. Wes and I played together a lot in college. The whole time we were there together I don’t think I heard him say more than three words at a time. He was SO busy, playing in seemingly every show that happened there, and he always had this look of bewilderment on his child-like face. And I, being the gregarious critter that I am, probably didn’t shut up for more than two seconds. So even if he did have more than three words to say at any given time, I doubt I gave him a chance.
When I went to LA for a visit in 1994 I stayed at Wes’ place the night before I left because he was taking me to the airport the next day. We went out for dinner that night and I’ll be damned if that boy didn’t start talking and flat didn’t stop! It was fast, it was furious, and it just kept on coming.
He talked about his Berklee years and said (perhaps in one breath):
“I know everybody probably thought I was stupid or really shy or something but I was just so overwhelmed by all the playing I was doing and all the talent around me and just by life in general that I didn’t know what to say so I usually didn’t say much of anything. Now that I’m here I feel like I woke up and I have a lot to say and I’m not afraid to say it. I know I must seem like a totally different guy than the one you knew at Berklee.”
He went on and on – talking about what he was thinking all that time he wasn’t talking. He told me all kinds of stories about old times and new times and then he launched off into tales of adventures with various girlfriends. At the end of it he just looked at me, exhaled deeply, shook his head, and said in frustration with that cute sideways mouth kind of thing he did: “Skirts…”
I don’t think I’d ever been so stupefied in my whole life. And I don’t think I got more than three words out of my bewildered face, but I laughed my ass off. Talk about a role reversal… Many of us have remembered how Wes often didn’t say much but when he did he could stop a room with just a few words. Even after his conversational tirade that night that’s exactly what he did – with one word…and “skirts”, of all things! Hilarious.
As long as I live I will remember that moment in time. It wasn’t life altering for any reason but it was absolutely precious. Even though I am one, I have used that phrase time and again (preceded, of course, by the appropriate exhale and head shake) in attempt to show some poor soul with girl trouble that I understand. And every time I do I still hear Wes saying it in my head and I just giggle. Sweet, funny, precious Wes… Thanks for gracing us with your gentle presence for a while, even us skirts.