Forced to take a year off from singing and on a strict Paleo diet to keep acid reflux from aggravating the granulomas that threaten his musical career, “Eat them, I don’t know: John Mayer’s Guide to Foraging” is a fact-based humor column tracking John Mayer’s efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle outside of the spotlight.
I’m on the road towards Bonner Springs, Kansas, a locale I’m pretty sure was on the Oregon Trail video game I played back in little school. Even though you started out with less money, I always chose to be the carpenter. One time, I died of a snake bite while fixing a broken wheel on my family’s covered wagon. I remember sitting in the blue plastic chairs they had in science class after, rubbing the spot on my wrist where the game said the rattler got me, thinking, this is what it feels like, the relentless burn of sacrifice.
I’m heading to Bonner Springs because I’m on the road again. Maybe you’ve been exposed to the apocalyptic hashtags: #MayerIsBack. That’s right, after seven months of vegan nosh and two months of total silence, my granulomas have healed and I’m cleared to tour. Also, I’m single again, a pre-requisite for touring.
I’m currently typing this from a Kwik Shop convenience store off of the K-10. It’s always very sexual, isn’t it, starting words with ‘K.’ My tour bus is ahead of me, stopped for lunch at a Cracker Barrel three exits north. I’ve got this guy named Greg who drives my Jeep Patriot behind the bus while I’m stationary biking or whatever, but most of the time, I like to drive and pretend that the entourage ahead of me is something completely unrelated to myself and to my present, like I could just take a random highway exit and be free of the whole thing, the way I have done now.
I can’t eat lunch with everyone at Cracker Barrel because they use too much salt in their food, an additive I need to avoid in order to keep my lungs in primo shape. But I’m grateful for the down time. I like getting reflective in this common parking lot with my Big Roll® of Brawny paper towels and my disgusting lunch.
I’ve got a new agey dietician on the tour bus and a private chef who provide me with a fleet of eatables to combat the acid reflux that plagues me when I tour. The world thinks I’m a posturer, a braggart, a braggadocio. But after more than a decade in the spotlight, I’m still paralyzed by stage fright. The worst thing is getting up there, making it through the first song. But once I’m reassured that the populace still loves me, I’m all hugs and feather pillows; the microphone is mine.
But these are different times, now. The arenas aren’t romantic, they all have corporate names: the WaWa Welcome Festival, The Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, the Gexa Energy Pavilion. My list of tour dates reads like the Outlook calendar of a Dell computer salesman. Gone are the days when I played at the Madison Square Garden, the Roxy in LA, a stellar lineup in Paris. I had to cancel the French leg of my “Battle Studies” tour because of food poisoning from subpar Danish catering. The French don’t know me now.
I open up my thermos of aloe vera soup and try not to gag at the slightly spermy smell of it. I’ve got an iced ginger tea to go along with it, and a banana oatmeal cookie for desert. All of these so-called super ingredients are supposed to help with my acid reflux, and also get my bloat down. What do you want—I finally got a girlfriend after a long time in the desert, and Katy Perry likes to eat. We took down all kinds of monstrosities on our fifteen dates: blue-cheese stuffed Rib Eye, double cream filled donuts, mac and cheese parmigiana which—if you’ve never had it—is the equivalent of anal sex in a warm motel room with a creaky, ceiling fan.
Do I miss her? Let me ponder this as I force feed myself this soup. I do miss her, damnit. But my brand messaging is #MayerIsBack, not #JohnMayerOwnsDishTowels. What do you want me to say? I know from thrice-daily experience that I have a lot of sperm. If I want to dabble in a little breeding, the fillies will line up. At least, they used to. And with this seven hundred calorie diet Dr. Tastesbad’s got me on, I swear by the five pounds I dropped just last week that they will again.
So don’t pity me as I sit here slurping at the macerated pulp of an imported succulent in my SUV. My skin is glowing, my voice is silver, and I’m pooping twice a day. Haters gonna doubt me, but I’ve got on cowboy boots with Cuban heels instead of sneakers. I’m gluten free and dairy free and mother freaking country stronger for it. And even if I don’t feel like it every day, not the way I used to, those eleven characters leaning on a hash sign tell me that it’s true: #MayerisBack.
The humor columnist behind Electric Literature’s “Celebrity Book Review,” Courtney Maum is a frequent contributor to Tin House, Bomb and The Rumpus. She has just finished a novel written entirely from the point of view of the celebrity recording artist, John Mayer, called “John Mayer Reviews Things.” She also has a little book out called “Notes from Mexico.” courtneymaum.tumblr.com @cmaum