Friday, June 16, 2006

Play Guitar

You got your eye on the cheerleader queen
you're walkin' her home from school
You know that she's only seventeen
She's gonna make you a fool
You know you can't touch this stuff
Without money or a brand new car
Let me give you some good advice young man
You better learn to play guitar
That's the second stanza from John Mellencamp's 1985 album Uh-Huh. That was a big album in Indiana and I had it on vinyl and tape...for my walkman...when I mowed the grass. I was 15.

That cheerleader queen line really got me. So I bought a guitar. I've never learned how to play properly. I could do chords pretty well and eventually even learned how to bar chords, but I never had the stick-to-it-tiveness to actually learn a song with lyrics and perfect it. Sorta describes my entire teen years.

Then something else struck in my head. I watched Tom Cruise in Top Gun. The girls we were with went nuts for that scene where Tom Cruise & crew lip synch a Righteous Brothers Song.

I thought, "well that's stupid." The whole point of courtship is to embarrass, humiliate, and annoy the guy. That's the function flowers, candy, and jewelry serve. "Hey babe, here's some flowers that cost me $55 bucks and will be dead next week. Oh, and here's some candy to make your ass fat and here's a ring that serves absolutely now purpose. Maybe if you like them enough, I'll get to stand up at a church and profess my love for you in front of my drunk and stoned buddies." What guy wants that? But it proves your love. The civilized version of slaying a dragon, I guess.

Anyway, in this scene, the guys are humiliating the woman. I thought, I've got that beat. I'll sing songs. And it works. I didn't really need to know songs. I knew 10 chords or so and a few licks and - thanks to my Chevy Nova that only had an AM radio - I had an encyclopedic knowledge of lyrics to songs that came out in that characterless desert of music that occurred between the time Elvis was inducted into the Army and the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan I could make up songs on the fly.

The panties didn't exactly fly off for me. I always screwed up the deal somehow. But it was amazing how impressed these women (girls) were with some skinny frizzy haired guy who mumbled Pat Boone lyrics at them.

I was emboldened even more when I saw John Cusak Say Anything (click to see poster). In the most famous scene Cusack blares a boom box out at a girl with a song. He doesn't even put on decent clothes or comb his hair! Your eyes, umhumsn pelte; Your eyes, oiadsflkdplete. Just learn the song buddy.

Eventually the guitar was put away. A month ago I dug it out of storage and started playing again. Why? Because my oldest daughter asked about it...and because I don't want either daughter to be impressed with some dork with a six string. It'll most likely be some dork with a turntable, but these guys are going to have to work a little harder to impress the McEwen girls, goddamn it.

He's got to be 6'6" with a football scholarship to Harvard and at least three sonnets memorized to get in my door.

Stay You.
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