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Guitar man

Agriculture.com Staff 01/02/2009 @ 9:03am

She was hanging around a pawn shop the first time I saw her. Even though I'm a happily married man, some impulse told me that I simply HAD to have her.

She was a stringy-looking blonde who obviously had more than a few miles on her. But she possessed a long, elegant neck and a stunning hourglass figure. She knew, as I did, that we could make beautiful music together.

I asked the man how much. He tossed out a ridiculously low price. I made a counter offer. We soon had a deal.

I snuck her home and hid her from my wife, secreting her away in the spare bedroom. Whenever I could, I would steal off to the spare bedroom to play with her.

It finally got so I couldn't stand all the sneaky subterfuge. One evening, as my wife watched TV, I summarily trotted her out for my spouse's perusal and approval.

"A guitar?" she asked with raised eyebrow. "Why ever did you buy a guitar? You don't know a thing about music!"

She had me there; I can't tell a treble clef from a tuning fork. "Maybe I'm one of those people who can learn music by osmosis," I replied. "Maybe I'm an idiot savant."

"You're halfway. You've certainly nailed the idiot part!"

Music -- the kind that is read and played -- has always been a foreign tongue to me. In grade school the first thing our music teacher taught us was that "do, re, mi" business. Then she tried to tell us that those same sounds were an alphabet soup of notes! Which is it, lady?

In junior high school I became so enamored of the idea of making music that I joined the band. I chose percussion for a couple of very good reasons.

First was the fact that percussionists get to whale on stuff. After all, it's a "drumbeat," not a "drum tickle."

But most important was that we drummers didn't have to learn scales. Heck, we barely had to differentiate between notes! Is that a whole note? OK, whack the drum. Is that an eighth? Whack the drum. And so on.

All percussion notes were on the same line of the scale. I liked the simplicity of it: Whack. Rest. Repeat.

But there would be a price for my sloth. When the time came for the homecoming parade, I was assigned the bass drum. Our band teacher said it was due to my excellent sense of rhythm, but I think he was punishing me for my laziness.

The day of the parade I was harnessed to a bass drum that was as big and as heavy as a rear tractor tire. I was forced to march that cussed thing the entire 28 miles of the parade route, whacking away rhythmically the whole time.

It took three days for my spine to return to its normal curvature.

That's when I decided to live without a capacity for making music. After all, I was going to be a farmer; the only music skill I needed was the ability to whistle for the dog.

I was thus a total music ignoramus when I purchased that old guitar. But my attitude hadn't changed since junior high: I don't want to learn music. I just want to learn to play.

The advent of the Digital Age has made just such a thing possible. No, you can't go to the Internet and download the ability to strum "Stairway To Heaven." Were such a thing possible I certainly would have done so by now.

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