Guitar Zero

Preface: I want to openly declare that the movie White Men Can’t Dance was loosely based on my skills – or lack there of – at the artistic maneuvers to which coordinated people complete while synchronized with music blasting from oversized speakers at a volume approximately 3 times pain. I declare in advance that I harbor no ill towards those that can sing like the angels welcoming you to Heaven, or that can operate musical instruments flowingly nor those blessed with Casper the Ghost like abilities to hover across the floor in smooth as silk movements. No, the following sarcasm is aimed at those like me whom should confine their theatrical performances to a room with the stereo turned up loud, a delivery pizza on the coffee table, a 6 pack (beer or soda) chilling in ice, the lights turned down low – And No Witnesses.

I was wondering through a large retail shopping chain that specializes in entertainment and home electronics. So as to not risk the wrath of their legal beenies who have nothing else to do, I will not name the store, but it rhymes with west guy. Near the home entertainment section they had established a display to feature the, I guess they call it, a video game – Guitar Hero. I know, from previous musical attempts that resembled nose dives into brick walls, I lack the ability to carry a tune with a wheel barrow. I normally would have continued to traverse the store towards what ever department I was seeking. However, in passing I noted a not unattractive young lady sitting at the console holding the pretend guitar and strumming away while staring intently at the computer display in front of her.

I should clarify before anyone freaks over the expression – young lady and calls the cops, since having already reached the half century mark (and thus now starting to count birthdays backwards), any woman under the age of 45 is a young lady to me. She was likely 30ish.

Mesmerized by the swinging, swaying, gyrations and shoulder bobs I nearly plowed into an older Asian couple crossing my path from an alternate direction. The saving grace to this near miss: they were equally spellbound by the animated movements of the display specimen. Lucky, we spotted each other and initiated avoidance maneuvers as defined in our respective countries of birth driver’s manuals. I dodged to my right as years of driving experience had taught me to do. However, based on their experiences in their native land, their knowledge of avoiding colliding with an inattentive, not watching where he was going individual was to swerve hard left, directly into the path of said subject. With precision of timing that would impress the Joey Chitwood Drivers (those who don’t know the reference, can assist you) the three of us completed a series of moves that allowed us to all pass without bodily impact. Of course in a language they could not understand – English – I muttered something under my breath about foreigners not watching where they were going. As if synchronized by a movie director, they appeared to be mumbling something in a language similar to a chicken singing opera that I could not understand about Americans not watching where they were going. On the surface, we all smiled at each other, said “excuse me” and continued on our way, sort of.

We each slowed our pace, altered our intended paths, shifted heads ever so slightly so as to not to appear to be staring and looking out of the corners of our eyes focused on a subject of mutual entertainment. Totally oblivious to her surroundings, the young lady was doing her best to follow the finger key patterns being displayed to a Dire Straights’ song. Clearly this was her first (or I at least hope that it was her first) attempt at this form of non-air-guitar air-guitar. I would have personally selected a slightly easier song – Twinkle Twinkly Little Star perhaps – as opposed to Money For Nothing which features some fantastic music compilations. And enough finger moves to harvest a tree of cherries. (Not really sure about that comparison, feel free to ad lib your own version.)

I paused to ponder if the inventor of this electronic pet rock (you either get this joke or not), was not the kid that at night in his or her bedroom whom cranked the radio up loud, turned the lights down low and played air guitar on their bed while pretending they were on a stage with millions – or at least a few dozen – screaming fans cheering for them. Much like I did, I just missed the boat with the invention. If you consider it from the simple facts, you are playing air guitar while holding a guitar-like non guitar while listening to the performance of real performers playing a guitar while you pretend you are playing the guitar. Karaoke anyone?

I secondly had to ask myself, if you are going to put that much effort and that much money into your musical attempts – why not buy a real guitar and a DVD to watch which will teach you how to actually play? Then of course the re-sell value of the video game might be more then a used guitar when you finally give up and realize air guitar is the only guitar you only sightly suck at. Especially if you pull an El Kabong with the guitar. Or, which is equally common, a roommate does an El Kabong with it.

Money For Nothing ended, and of course, Eric Clapton magically appeared. Not wanting to be rude by continuously staring, or actually not wanting to be caught being rude, I picked up some information about cell phones and pretended to be reading. As I scanned the nearby crowd, I noted that the Asian couple appeared greatly interested in a display of DVD players neatly stacked in a row. All 20+ of the boxes contained the same item, but it appeared that the couple was slowing taking their time reading each box, as if one might somehow be different. I also observed, in my Sherlock Holmes investigative fashion, that other individuals and couples appeared to be engrossed in studying TVs, Wii’s, Xbox’s and other assorted entertainment devices, yet all had a peculiar body slant affording the ability to watch the Guitar Hero heroine.

Finally, unable to watch any more, I continued on my way deeper into the recesses of this magical man-cave supply house in search of something I did not need but was certain that life would cease to be livable without.

I will always wonder if the woman in question was not an employee of the manufacturer or of the store. After all, how many of those in the crowd that day: before I, while I and after I was there, did not go home that night, turn down the lights, crank up the stereo and jump up on to the coffee table to act out some air guitar action. Having been convinced that if she can do it then they can do it, at which they returned to purchase their own copy of the game. I sadly admit, I did play some air guitar that night, but not having any roommates nor a coffee table, the lights were on and I was in the center of floor. My only fan in attendance – my dog. And he walked out in the middle of the second song. Like I said, I can not carry a tune: air or otherwise.

No, I still do not own Guitar Hero, because, as attested to by the mutt; Guitar Zero would be much more fitting. Which is okay, as I secretly suspect, many others are as equally untalented as I at air guitar, and I can at least write. Smile you're on candid website

John C. Carter

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