So How Was Your Weekend?

I’m broke, and the IRS says I owe them $89,000. They end up sending me to prison. I’m depressed, menopausal, and my hair’s falling out. In the women’s penitentiary, I keep to myself.

I’m in the yard, all alone at a picnic table when someone hands me a guitar. It’s been a while since I played anything, but it feels as comfortable as sitting in one of those special massage chairs at the mall. I remember shopping, drinking wine and being free. And then I start to strum. I play “Fernando,” the old ABBA song, because that’s the first thing that pops into my head.

A few women come and stand around me to listen. When I reach the chorus, Margie, one of the meanest, toughest convicts in the joint, joins in on the harmony:

There was something in the air that night, the stars were bright, Fernando.

Next thing I know, they’re all singing with me.

They were shining there for you and me, for liberty, Fernando.

Up on the wall, a few of the guards have been deep in discussion. One of them looks down at us and I can see tears in her eyes. She opens her mouth and starts to sing, in a lovely alto:

Though we never thought that we could lose, there’s no regret.

The warden has strolled out to see what the commotion is. She shouts out. “Hey! Amy Rigby!”

Everyone freezes, and I feel myself turning bright red. I wonder how she’s going to punish me for this. Peeling potatoes? Breaking up concrete? Cleaning the bathrooms, probably.

She walks over and stares me down. “Maybe you could use this,” she says, handing me a capo. “Your key’s a little low.” Then she winks.

If I had to do the same again, I would my friend, Fernando.

And in that moment, even though I’m in jail, I’m as happy as I could ever be.

Some of this is true.

13 thoughts on “So How Was Your Weekend?

  1. amy

    Wonderful optimism Grahame! thank you.Janine, you are absolutely right -it’s all a mistake, which I am in the process of proving. the only people I’ve ever owed that kind of money to are a record label and a publishing company…who I am in indentured servitude to for the rest of my life (or til they go out of business. Hmm, better check on that)

  2. amy

    Guy, a poorly documented house sale, a lame accounting firm – I can surely clear it up but I swear to God the stress is making my hair fall out.

  3. Unca Si

    Hey, Eric seems to have overcome his old beef with Stiff Records, so who knows what is possible. My advice is to walk the tightrope between confidence and abusiveness when talking to taxmen. Do your homework. Good luck.

  4. Rosie

    someones pen slipped on the noughts eh?surely they dont have debtors prison any more do they? Well I’ll come and sing harmonies for you if I need to…

  5. amy

    Si, if only I’d done my homework before. But never too late to learn. You may be right TBNIL, when this is all over what’s left of me will go shopping (even if it’s just window shopping – or at very least the Warhol show in Paris)Thinking about the new crop of big-time criminals (Madoff et al) Rosie, maybe there’s work “inside” entertaining. Could be a whole new career for us.

  6. caryn

    What is it with the IRS auditing artists? My friend Zoe Strauss, who lives in South Philly, and is a photographer of some reknown (but not big bucks) has been audited TWICE in the last three years.They should be ashamed of themselves right now.The overseas tax rules are a bear, designed for expats who are working for oil companies or large multinationals, and not for average people who just want to live somewhere else.

  7. amy

    Thanks for saying that Caryn. I remember a few years back, when Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart got audited – because the IRS couldn't believe that anyone could possibly work as hard or do as many shows in a year as they do! I have yet to file as anything but a US resident, so we'll see how that goes, when I actually have residence status overseas. I'm sure it'll only add to the confusion… PS I just enjoyed reading your review of the REM tribute.

  8. Pingback: And Home | Diary Of Amy Rigby

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