It was 1979, and I was a 27-year-old singer-guitarist who’d recently lost my recording contract in London, moved back to San Antonio feeling defeated, divorced my high-school sweetheart, and gone through some semi-serious binging on “sex, drugs and rock-n-roll.” I’d hit bottom and needed to try a different strategy.
So when a fan named Craig offered me a job with his house painting company, it seemed worth a try, even though I’d never painted before. But when I showed up for work at a stately Victorian home on King William Street, Craig took one look at the thick leather gloves I wore to protect my guitar-playing fingers, accurately assessed my level of inexperience, and assigned me an unobtrusive spot on the second floor where I could safely practice painting, with only one caveat: “Whatever you do, don’t spill any paint on that antique cedar-shingle roof,” he said, gesturing to the covered porch beneath me.
Within minutes, a whole quart of paint slipped through my gloved hands and landed on the shingles with a loud splat that brought the crew leader scrambling up the scaffolding lickety-split. She could have fired me on the spot, but instead she graciously and cheerfully spent the morning helping me clean up the mess. When noon finally arrived, it only seemed fair to buy her lunch around the corner at El Mirador.
Before the meal was over Zet and I had become good friends; within two months we became constant companions and business partners, too. We got married in 1981, and despite the fact that she’s had to help me clean up several more messes over the years, we’ve remained best friends ever since, thanks to our personal Cupid: the late, much-missed, Wicked Wit of Wickes Street, Craig Pennel. We love you, Craig!
- Rudi Harst