Meeting (a man who claimed to be) Roger Waters

I was at a party on Saturday December 12, 1998 in Pittsburgh (of all places), and as we arrived, the host was all excited. He claimed that one of the guests was — you guessed it — Roger Waters. However, everyone was supposed to play it cool, treat him just like another guest, and his name for tonight was “Fred.” Aparently the host had met him in a local Pittsburgh bar a little while ago.

The party was almost all 35 – 45 year old guys, a crew that goes skydiving together. If you’ve ever been to one of these parties, you know what I mean. There were only 3 women there. It was in a well lit basement out in the sticks (it was on a 3 acre plot of land, mostly woods with a dirt road leading up to the house.) As best I could tell from the way “Fred” was acting you couldn’t be sure whether he really was Roger Waters or was an imposter. He looked to be in his mid 50s, and had a strong British accent, which is incredibly rare in Pittsburgh. (Any foreign accent is rare in Pittsburgh outside the Universities.) He claimed to be born in some small town in England, and then to have lived in many different places in England and the rest of the UK. We talked a bit about Pittsbugh, and “Fred” quoted Paul McCartney as saying he (Paul) liked Pittsburgh, because it was a blue collar town like Liverpool or Manchester. “Fred” said all that blue collar means is that the rich are very rich and the poor are very poor.

The thing about “Fred,” though, is that he was rather annoying. He would typically make some sort of anoying small talk with people, and you could see that he wasn’t very interested in talking to them. For example, when someone mentioned they were born in Oxford, Fred said “That’s where your soon to be axed president [Bill Clinton] was educated. And he’s using the Oxford English definition of sex, which is intercourse. So you see, it wasn’t purjury when he said he didn’t have sex with Monica. And he was using the Oxford English definition of relationship, which involves feelings and emotions. So he didn’t commit purjury at all.” The host countered, “But he said he was never alone with her, and she has stains on her dress.” Thinking quickly, he said “Well, he’s a voyeur” and went back to his game of billiards. It was hard to have a conversation with him, since all he’d do was tell bad jokes and speak with a kind of arragance, as if his opinion was the final word on any topic.

At some point the people at the party put on a skydiving video (and turned the sound up, which was thankfully mostly music), and most people stopped and stared at the video. The only “young” people were some guy in his early twenties who looked like a slightly cleaned up Axle Rose, and his girlfriend who looked like a 20 year old Stevie Nix, but thinner. She was pretty attractive, and after half an hour, all “Fred” did was make really cheezy small talk with the girlfriend, mostly about how he wanted to kiss her bellybutton. She let him touch it once, then she had to keep telling him (politely) that he couldn’t touch it again. I think the only time he stopped talking to her for more than a minute was to stare at the video when it switched to a bunch of clips of women flashing T&A at some concert. Looked like he hadn’t seen a young woman’s body in a decade.

At one point he told a joke. “If you were in a skydiving accident and tore your knee and had to get a new one, where would you go?” Someone ventured a response. “No,” said Fred, “to Africa, where the Negros!” People politely chuckled, and “Fred” admitted the joke wasn’t very good, or in good taste.

God, he was so pathetic. At some point I leaned over to my friends and said “Make me a promise? If, when I’m his age, I’m that cheezy, desprate, and just plain annoying, will you put a bullet in my head?” They laughed that knowing laugh and asked me to do the same for them. A little while later came the highlight of the evening, when people brought out their cameras to take a picture of “Fred” kissing the girl’s bellybutton. He pointed to it for one picture, touching her belly right next to the button. She said (politely, with a smile), “Now I told you you could only touch it once!” He said “No, I’m touching *next* to it.” “Oh!” she laughed, “and that’s completely different?” Then he turned to the camera and said “I’m just doing some naval research.” I glanced at my friend across the room, and he held his hand in the shape of a gun and “shot” me. I couldn’t help but laugh. If this had happened 10 years ago, when I was 19 and Pink Floyd was still one of my favourite bands, it would have made for some major inner conflcit. As it was, I’m disillusioned and jaded, so I was just disappointed.

But hey, if it was really him, I played pool with Roger Waters (he was good for an amature and beat me pretty easily), and bumbed smokes from him. So, it was well worth it.


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