When I went to scout out locations for photo shoots, I took Vee-Jay with me down to the wharf.
“Vaneer! You look great out here! The ocean breeze looks so sexy blowing through your hair!”
He looked adorable. He didn’t look hot, but he looked so cute, and cute has incredible appeal.
“Let’s take some pics so I can check out the light. Show me the inner Vee-Jay! Confident!”
I about died from cuteness.
I snapped so many pics, and he looked lovable in each. He really had something. It wasn’t the stereotypical idol look, not by a long shot. It was… It was this inside quality. This inner Vivaan Ramesh essence–and he knew how to project it. The boy simply shone.
“This!” he called. “This is how I feel about life!”
He looked up, doing a Yugyeom imitation, with his arms out to the side, his head tilted back, and a darling serene smile on his face. He was no Yugyeom. But he was 200% Vee-Jay. I could hardly wait to get back and post these to our S-Boy Instagram page.
“I like it here,” he said. “It’s interesting. It’s like… the crossroads of life and work and inspiration all rolled up in one.”
“Don’t you need four to have crossroads?”
“Never mind.” We both liked the smell of seaweed and the sound of fishing boat horns and the warmth of the sun, and we had a little extra time before afternoon rehearsals, so we strolled along the docks.
I’d forgotten how many stray cats roamed the wharf.
“Look at this sweetheart,” Vee-Jay said as he stood before a chunky long-haired cat. The Tom’s ears looked like they’d suffered through a fight or two.
“He looks tough,” I said.
“What? This precious snowflake?” Vivaan said, picking up the gruff old cat.
I could hear the cat purr all the way from where I stood.
“He’s a pussy-cat,” said Vee-Jay. “He told me his name is Rainbow. Can I keep him?”
It looked like the matter had already been decided. That cat was not getting out of Vee-Jay’s arms. We carried him all the way home, stopping at the corner store on the way, so I could pick up a bag of Science Diet.
We sat at the kitchen table, after I’d filled a bowl with cat food and made sure Rainbow was settling in.
“We have Cat!” pronounced Vee-Jay.
“I can see that,” said Rylan.
“We have a cat,” said Tony. “Did you say we have a cat? We actually have a cat! Does that mean we’re like a real family? Mom, the boys, and the cat?”
“Yeah, no,” I said. “Didn’t I say you can’t call me Ma? Call me Auntie or something if you must, but Ma? Yeah, no. But we can still be a family, if you want. Or,” I added, quickly, thinking of my ships, “how about a band that’s just really, really close?”
When I checked in on Rainbow before bed that night, I found him perched atop Hammy’s home.
“You okay in there, Little Guy?” I asked Hammy. But he was doing the backstroke in his water dish, happy as… well, happy as a hamster frolicking in a water dish, I guess. “Yeah, you look pretty okay. You be nice, Rainbow.”
Rainbow purred so loudly, I could hear him halfway down the hall.
The next morning, Joey and I walked along the boardwalk by our beach. Dang if he also didn’t look good in the sun, too!
There was something about these guys. They were all a little weird, and we hadn’t yet gelled as a team, but darned if I didn’t find something appealing in each! I only hoped the fans would agree.
“Look,” said Joey. “It’s a doggo!”
And his eyes went soft.
“You like dogs, Joey?” I asked.
“I think they’re the greatest,” he said. “They’re just so cute.”
I didn’t know Joey knew baby talk.
“Who’s the little chow-Bernese mountain dog mix? Huh? Who’s the big guy with the wrinkly forehead and the curly little whirly tail?”
“I suppose you’d like to keep him,” I said.
“Well, yeah. He hasn’t got a collar. Have you, Apollo?”
When we got home, all three of us, we found Akira and Vee-Jay laying on the porch, tracing shapes in the watermarks in the planks overhead.
“That one looks like a bunny,” Akira was saying.
“I’m really happy here,” Vee-Jay said. “Now we’ve got a cat. And we’ve got each other. I really feel like we can all be friends, you know? In addition to being a good band, that is.”
“Look there,” said Akira. “That looks like a unicorn. That kinda reminds me of you.”
Vee-Jay chuckled. “How so?”
“Well, it’s looking up, like it sees something marvelous! Like it’s standing on its rear legs, shouting, ‘Ah! Life!’ Can unicorns shout, do you think?”
“When they’re really happy,” Vee-Jay was saying.
Ah, these guys. If 25% is talent, and 10% is looks, and 65% is adorableness, I realized that we might just have a 100% shot at making it.
That night, I came up with a great name forour first album: Rainbow Apollo. If that’s not us, I’m not sure what is.