Before you can play the guitar… (part 12)

August 14, 2008

Need to catch up on parts 1 to 11? (Click Here)

The call from Steve came through to my office the next day. He gave me my long awaited second (or is it third or forth by now?) opinion and I promised to head over right after work. My second trip to the Music store was entirely different. I was greeted, by that very same bouncer, as a minor celebrity. I was pointed to a narrow set of stairs in “the back” and told to wait for Steve in his workshop.

The intimate room smelled of shellac and wood dust. One wall held a rack of freshly polished guitars, hung close and friendly. The opposite wall was organized to hold hundreds of tools and parts. He kept his pliers and screwdrivers in a long row of brown Tim Hortons paper cups. Now that’s what I call recycling! The workbench was covered with a soft green felt, the same colour as the divine plush in my case. The atmosphere was close, but not stuffy, like I’d walked into a hobbit hole and Bilbo would be home any minute.  

And there, resting quietly on the felt, almost unrecognizable in it’s new incarnation, was my Fender guitar… 

Stay tuned for the shocking conclusion!


Before you can play the guitar… (part 11)

August 1, 2008

Need to catch up on parts 1 to 10? (Click Here)

When the puddle around my sneakers became too big too ignore (ok, ok, I’ll admit to slight hyperbole on that one, but ever so slight), a large bouncer-at-a-metal-concert man asked me what I was waiting for. I could feel his eyes judging me. I knew he saw the yuppy North Face jacket, the industrial designy eyeglasses under the brim of the trying-waay-too-hard scruffy hat. But I used my most confident laid back music chick voice and explained the situation. Needless to say, the man was did not look overly impressed when I pointed to the bulky garbage bags that were slowly saturating his floor mat.

You know, in reading this, I’m thinking most of this “acting cool” and “acting the part” ends up setting me up to look like an idiot. But I enjoy it. Ya, life is more fun when you let yourself really get into a situation. Act the part. Wear the clothes. You might not be up for an Oscar next March, but I guarantee you’ll have some stories to tell!

So I left my guitar for “Steve” the technician, who’d gone home early (of course), with a note listing everything that I’d been told needed fixing. I started to get that knowing itchy feeling in my gut while writing out the list. You know the one, when you begin to realize you’re going to be spending a whole lot more money than you were planning on…

Stay tuned for part 12!


Before you can play the guitar… (part 10)

July 30, 2008

Need to catch up on parts 1 to 9? (Click Here)

…I had to go on rage. The rain squirmed in under my jacket’s cuffs and collar. It crept up my shirt sleeves and mixed with sweat to dribble down my back. Just lovely, I know. It seeped in through my ears and splashed up off spinning car tires, drenching my pant legs. My sneakers squelched deeper into the mud with every step, but I was too wet and mad to care about any of it.

Why can’t it ever be easy?! All I wanted was to play a guitar! Was I asking too much of the universe! Why did it have to be raining? And if it had to rain, why did it have to be raining so bloody hard? And why, oh why, didn’t anyone seem to know that the fabled “yellow awning” I was supposed to be looking for was, in actual fact, a flat BLACK sign!

Turn back, you ask? When I was so close? Never. And it was with great sopping triumph that I finally laid my guitar case down in the middle of the Music store. My jeans had undergone the incredibly economical, but indescribably uncomfortable, transformation from medium wash to dark. Claustrophobia, anyone? Water from my green too-cool-for-school newsboy was dripping into my eyes and I could feel my core temperature starting to plummet. Do you think any of the half dozen wandering/chatting employees noticed any of this? Of course not. Apparently, it takes more than a funky hat to get any attention from this class of hardcore music buff. (TW- take note ; )

Stay tuned for part 11!


Before you can play the guitar… (part 9)

July 28, 2008

Need to catch up on parts 1 to 8? (Click Here)

This wasn’t rain. There was no quantization involved, no individual droplets spread evenly throughout a supporting medium. This was an unbroken deluge sent straight from the heavens. If you ask me, whenever the world soaks through and turns gray and heavy, a person should take themselves off to the nearest bed and curl up with a good book and a bowl of maple syrup drizzled cottage cheese yum… but enough daydreaming. Let’s get back to the action!

There I am, soaked, trudging along beside some forsaken highway on the other side of town (after riding a bus and a city train for over an hour!), in all my tweed capped bag lady glory. You can imagine how delighted I was to discover there were ZERO giant yellow Music store awnings on the route mr tambourine man had prescribed. None the first time I walked it, none the second back and forth, and wouldn’t cha know it, no sign of it even on my third pass after getting more directions from a Cowboy Hat store. Here in Calgary, you’d figure asking anyone wearing plaid would be a safe bet for gettin’ the lay of the land. Not so much. Drenched and exhausted, I finally hauled my 5 ton guitar case into a Second Cup and called the Music store.

I remember hearing a far away voice on the phone saying, “You’re almost here”. But almost isn’t good enough when every muscle in your body is aching from carrying an impossibly slippery, garbage bagged, hand held harpsichord. And I was all out of new ergonomic body/guitar case configurations to help spread the weight. There was only one way I was going to manage the next five blocks…

Stay tuned for part 10!


Before you can play the guitar… (part 6)

July 3, 2008

Need to catch up on parts 1 to 5 of this blog serial? (Click Here)

A quest like this is all about momentum, and I wasn’t about to let myself get stalled in my mission to play the guitar by the small fact that my guitar could not be played. There was only one thing to do, suck it up and endure the ubiquitous pawn shop guitar “walk of shame” to the closest music store. It’s like your first trip to the salon after a tragic at home Sun-in experience, brutal. They always give you that same look too, that “here comes another sucker” smirk. When will we learn that cheap n’ easy never keeps its promises?

My only other trip to the music store had been for a pick the day before. After “picking” (sorry, couldn’t resist) through their vast selection, I asked one of the so-this-is-what-really-happened-to-Kurt-Cobain salespeople what thickness he would recommend for beginners. “Up to you,” he said, “personal preference.” Then he shrugged and walked off. Ya, big help. How was I supposed to have a “preference” at this stage of the game? So I did what every girl does in a pinch; I picked my favorite colour ; )

My walk of shame the next day brought me right up to counter. Mr. Grunge wasn’t around, so I waited for someone else to come and rescue me. My knight in shining, um, piercings came up and introduced himself. He was carrying enough metal, in enough different places, that I had to fight the urge to grab him by the shoulders and jangle him like a tambourine! It’s sad, but I’m pretty sure he would have made better music than what had been coming out of my guitar. I told him my sob story and asked for his diagnosis.

“Don’t bother sugar coating it,” I said. “Tell it to me straight. Is there any hope?”