Vignette

Nicknames

One festival night after his set Dylan was immediately surrounded by fans. He accepted compliments, told jokes, took photos, hobnobbed, hi fived, smiled big and grinned. Then one young fan apologetically suddenly said, “Sorry man, I just came up with a new nickname for you, but I’m not sure I should say it.” “Well now you gotta,” said Dylan gamely. “It takes a lot to offend me, so go ahead.” The fan sighed self-consciously and stalled for time. Then he said, “Over-the-hill Gates” in such a muttering tone as to be almost inaudible. Nonetheless what the young fan said still managed to be heard loud and clear by everyone near. I stifled a laugh and turned my head slightly away. Dylan’s face darkened as he scowled. This is a sight to see since Dylan’s default facial expression is happy-go-lucky if not outright zany. Dylan was annoyed. “Sorry dude,” said the young fan, and he did look sorry, even though all of us were trying hard pretending to not be laughing. Later we told Bil Bless what happened and he also got a good laugh in. Nice to see Bil Bless laugh as he usually seems depressed. Months later at another festival, Dylan was smiling grand and effusive hanging out after his set feeling fresh. He chatted contentedly with friends. Out of the blue a guy came streaking by, leaned into Dylan and hectically said, “Over-the-hill Gates” and with a worried face he scurried away. Dylan’s face darkened as he frowned, he looked quickly left and right, but it all happened too suddenly and the culprit fast disappeared. Then Dylan spied Bil Bless nearby in the shadows chuckling. You could tell he put the kid up to it. “Wiseguy,” said Dylan with eyes like slits, and he shook his fist at all of it.

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