Pathetic Memory Mondays is a weekly-ish feature where I delve into my past to discuss a rather pathetic and sad memory. It’s hilarious now, unlike when the memory took place. It was very sad then.
I tried playing guitar. My grandma paid for three month’s of lessons from one of Enid, Oklahoma’s best guitarists. He tried, but I just couldn’t get it. My fingers wouldn’t move fast enough. Had the guitar been made of food, they probably would have been the fastest that town had ever seen. It wasn’t meant to be. My dreams of being a guitarist, rocking on stage, being cool, attracting ladies, were dead…
Until Guitar Hero…
I know what you’re saying: “Mark, Guitar Hero won’t attract ladies. It’s a video game played with a six-buttoned plastic guitar. It isn’t real.” I realize that now. I didn’t realize that then. Or for a few years, actually.
I should have realized it within 30 minutes of playing. I was in the apartment of some good friends playing. I picked it up fast, mastering songs on medium and doing well on hard. Then, one of my best friends, Alan, stepped up to play. We all thought he’d be a master seeing as he was absolutely amazing at playing a real guitar. But Alan couldn’t get it. He failed out of medium. He barely could do easy. Frustrated, he walked out of the apartment. He came back 10 minutes later to make a point I ignored for far too long…
I played a lot of Guitar Hero. A sickly amount. I was a sophomore in college and ignored school work. Surprisingly, my grades went up. Not sure how that works, but hooray!
I bought the sequels, I moved on to Rock Band, playing guitar, drums, singing, all of it. At one point, I built a microphone stand out of cardboard so I could play guitar and sing at the same time. I was good. Not insane-good like some people were, but I beat all the games on expert eventually (and barely.) I memorized songs and bought a wireless guitar so I could walk around the house and play without looking at the screen. If you wanted a rendition of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” sung with emotion and played hard on guitar, I was your man.
I thought I was amazing. I thought I was a rock God. A plastic rock God. We’d throw parties and I’d play, banging my head, spinning, kicking, walking through the house and playing, staring at ladies. Seriously. I did all of this. There are witnesses.
Seriously, who wouldn’t want to get with that guy?
The answer: anybody.
I remember thinking Guitar Hero and Rock Band could help me get women to like me. It’s a very vivid memory and idea, one that gives me a strong twinge of embarrassment but a great laugh. In retrospect, I think it was more about the idea of confidence than playing the game. In my mind, playing such a silly game in a serious and hyperbolic way showed that I wasn’t afraid of looking stupid; therefore, I had confidence in myself. If I acted like it was cool to play Guitar Hero memorized with a wireless controller in the kitchen while the television was in the living room (this happened a few times at parties and yes, I hate myself for it), then maybe a woman would go, “you know, he is absurd and weird but confident in that and I want to put my tongue in his mouth!”
But those dreams never materialized. I never garnered a gaggle of Guitar Hero groupies, never woke up the next morning to find a naked woman wrapped around my body, holding onto a plastic toy guitar. If only I had just realized Alan’s point years before, when he re-entered the apartment with his acoustic guitar and exclaimed, “Hey, who wants to play this game?” then strummed a song on a real guitar with real strings. We all laughed as he sat down and kept playing. What a cool son of a bitch.
I looked at the plastic guitar in my hands. “I can be that cool with this, right?”
Oh, 21-year-old Mark, how stupid you were. How awesomely stupid.