It’s 11pm on a weekday and I am messaging with an old friend (via social media) who is currently seeing one of my all-time favorite bands in concert for the first time.
“I clearly remember [back in high school] driving down Lakeside Road with you in the passenger seat, sunroof open and you singing [these songs],” she writes.
“Sounds like me,” I respond.
I do love to sing in the car. This doesn’t mean I know the words. Usually I don’t. I may barely know the melody. I used to carpool to a warehouse job with another friend in college and he does not look back on this experience with fondness. He says it was annoying at best and sometimes made him contemplate driving off the road just to make it stop.
And it’s not just the singing…
I have a custom-made t-shirt that simply declares that I “Still Play Air Guitar.” Anyone who has been most anyplace with me where loud music plays can attest to the truth in advertising on this front, too. I like air guitar so much I briefly considered canceling plans to see an actual band play recently because I heard that across town there was an air guitar contest I could enter.
Weirdly, though, my enthusiasm for singing and playing hasn’t made me become great at ACTUALLY singing or playing. Yes – I can do a little of both. But as I often tell people, I really excel in my enthusiasm while doing these things, not in my hard skills.
I learned to play guitar in late elementary school – very near the time when I finished a season of little league without ever getting a hit. I knew of only two ways for a skinny guy to make friends and meet girls and that summer on the ballfield proved I was not going to get far doing the first one.
So I asked Dad to loan me his Yamaha FG-300 and get me some lessons.
Mom wanted me to learn the piano first. We had one. She is skilled in the pursuit of tickling ivory and in teaching, but I was 12 and concerned about looking cool. Ben Folds Five was still a few years from being popular (and becoming my third favorite band) and Dad had mostly shown me the Beatles. We hadn’t gotten to Billy Joel and Elton John yet.
So I got guitar group lessons and a fakebook and did my best to learn the five chords I would need later to play every Oasis song. (FACT: Girls love “Wonderwall.”)
It wasn’t long before I realized there is only so much fun to be had with a guitar when there is no collaboration or audience. So obviously I had to start a band.
My first try involved a girl I thought was cute who only wanted to sing that Joan Osborne song that got popular.
The second try was a better fit, but there were too many guitar players. So we mutually decided I was the worst at it and found me a bass guitar instead.
And that is how I got to here: being in my mid-thirties with aspirations of being better, but lacking the self-discipline to make it happen because just pretending is fun enough.
So what’s the point of all this reminiscing? I guess I just feel it is important to recognize when you haven’t tried hard enough.
I could be a lot better than I am at bass guitar or lead guitar – or even singing.
But for now I’ll just keep the windows down, imagination turned up and be happy with an E for enthusiasm.