Jukebox Jethro – NOT a hero.
So I bought a six string
At a second hand store
Didn’t know how to play it
But I knew for sure…
…that apparently I’m still in the midst of a midlife crisis and somehow trust that learning guitar will magically transform me into a complete and balanced individual – a perma-smiled and ponytailed happy hippiefreak. I’ll play at coffee houses and street corners – guitar case open for donations. Just me, my guitar, and a lifetime supply of granola. Oh, Big Balls would be my road manager. It will be fantastic. Life off grid and by the seat of our pants.
That was part and parcel the imagery swirling in my brain when BB and I walked into the used guitar shop. He promised to buy me a guitar and lessons last Christmas. It was my present. I have been avoiding opening that package until now. Avoiding it like the plague.
Truth is…It frightens me. I’m pretty much successful at anything I pour my heart into. I did well in sports – aced my post grad Master’s program – created a successful hippie healer practice – built and beautified many sanctuaries for people to live within and enjoy. I have chops and much comes naturally; except for a ridiculous fear of playing musical instruments. I’ll spare you the grade school imprint that created this. Just let it be known that I’ve wanted to play the guitar my whole life and never had the cojones to actually give it a try. Until now.
There’s no better cure for overcoming fear than jumping in head first and balls deep. I’ve done this with great success in the past. I had a terrible and crippling fear of public speaking. To get over this I took an improv comedy class (shout out to my friend Toby Martini who guided me during this phase of my life). With that bold step, I not only wiped away the fear, but had a blast and learned an amazing skill that I continue to use.
So once again, I take a bold step. I will learn the guitar well enough to play songs and eventually write my own material.
It didn’t help that the acquisition of the guitar wasn’t exactly joyous. BB and I strolled in to the shop expecting happy hippy guitar nymphs to embrace my new found bravery and shepherd me into the wonderful world of music. Instead, we stood around while an old dude in back with a tragic toupee ignored us and a spindly gray haired lady taught an organ lesson to a Stepford wife – neither acknowledged our presence. For 15 minutes we gazed at guitars without a clue.
Finally, gray haired lady finished her lesson and asked if we needed help. I jumped in and awkwardly claimed that I was looking for a starter acoustic guitar and that I knew nothing other than that. She led me to the aisle and showed me a blue one.
I said no.
After some back and forth I looked at a used Yamaha acoustic. It’s a basic entry level guitar that looks pretty much like I imagined it should. I strummed it a few times and held it like a rock star pretending I knew what I was doing. I did not- but it felt right so I gave it the thumbs up. So far so good.
Then, she thought it would be helpful to teach me a chord. Just one – an “a” chord. She showed me while BB watched. It looked easy enough. Until I attempted to bend my stubby knubby fat fingers as instructed. They would not cooperate.
Then anorexic Janet Reno got all up in my grill and shamed me like a dried up Nun with a cross to bear. All over a fucking A chord I could not manage to figure out.
Meanwhile BB is in hysterics.
Eventually she took her clammy wrinkly hands and forced my fingers into position and told me to strum. It was more of a snarl. I strummed. I then fantasized about pulling off a full scale Nirvanaesque guitar smash over her nasty humpback. My ego was too deflated, so instead, I hung my head in shame while BB bought the damn thing – along with a tuner, case, pick and grade school learning manual. Gee wiz.
I’m a prepubescent dufus embarking on my own ridiculous version of band camp at age 43. It’s wildly uncomfortable. And I WILL NOT give up – as much as I want to. Fucking commitment.
It didn’t help that she complimented my “father” for being so generous as we left the store; the guitar case slung over my shoulder and my head slung low to the ground. BB giggled and I shot him a look of disdain.
I’ve already practiced a few times. It’s pushing all of my buttons. I persist anyway. I’m on page 15 of the kindergarten level beginner book complete with cartoons and large font. My fingers and wrists don’t do what the book suggests. It’s painful. I swallow, more like choke, on my pride and simply follow the lesson manual anyway.
BB looks over his glasses and continues to giggle.
Welcome to my pain. I will LOVE this someday. For now it’s literally like getting repeatedly smashed in the face with balls of moldy cheese.
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Filed under: Tuesdays with Gooley
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