Contest entry-Year 2000 Celebrity
My Moment as a musical Celebrity
When Spring 2000 semester came around, I decided to take a music class at the local junior college. Since I needed an instrument, I thought about playing piano, but I loved the sound that guitar strings make. The bad thing is that since you would have to strum or finger pick, it is inevitable--your fingers will soon be calloused. On the other hand, guitars are more portable and can be carried around a lot easier than pianos. So far technology has not figured out a way to make hand-held pianos.
I browsed the closest pawn shop to see what they might have, and saw several guitars hanging on the far wall. There was a smaller one, which wasn't electric/acoustic. I asked the attendant about it.
"This one is not like the usual guitars that people have. Instruments like these are called requintos," the attendant said. "Maybe you would like one of the larger ones?"
"No. I like it, but just what is a requinto?"
He looked at it. "These are different in how they are tuned and how they sound."
I wanted to know more. "Oh?" I said. "So, is that the name of this guitar?"
"Yes it is, but the term requinto is, also, used in both Spanish and Portuguese to mean a smaller, higher-pitched version of another instrument. There are requinto guitars, drums, and several wind instruments."
"Interesting. Thanks for sharing that with me. Well, I need it for a class I am taking. I'll take it," I said, then we proceeded to the register. I paid and left.
I remember having to play for my midterm, yet I cannot recall what I did. Every time midterm or final exams came around, I would walk around with sweaty palms; my body broke out in a cold sweat. I thought about how I would be standing or sitting in front of all my classmates making a fool out of myself. At the same time, I was excited, but also wanting to hurry up and get it over with. I used the Requinto to practice my class lessons, and also used it for the mid-term exam
For our final exam, we had to perform two songs. One song was selected by the instructor, which was in our music book; the other one we could choose. I couldn't make up my mind. I had a Elvis Presley song book, and looked for simple songs. All songs utilize chords. I knew, by then, that chords in song books correlate to where you place your fingers on the fret (neck) of the guitar, which, in turn, changes the sound that comes out when you play.
I looked for songs, which had less than four chords in them. I found two. Each had a slower tempo. One was called Big Boots--a cute song for children; the other one was called Don't. I chose it because it has a nice melody to it, and I figured it was slow enough that I might be easier for me to practice with. Even now, I think of the performer, Elvis Presley, and his voice. I can almost hear those great vocals in the background, yet I would not have any for my performance.
Time seemed to go by a lot quicker than I wanted it to. The closer we got to finals, the faster my heart was beating. To ease my nerves, I decided I'd better take some private lessons. After practicing that some, I got a bit nervous and looked for another song , but still realized I might not be prepared in time. I can tell you this much, if you can play one song, you can play many.
The instructor told us that we could have a partner, so of course we paired up. Mine had a cool strumming pattern so we decided that she'd do that , while I would do the finger picking part. Our teacher told us that we should sing too, if possible. I shot him a look that said he might be needing a eulogy, but I decided prison life was not going to be a fun option. For me, playing and singing at the same time is akin to chewing gum while sleeping.
I wanted my final to be the best that it could be, so headed to the music shop to browse for a new full-sized guitar. The store attendants knew my brother, who for years played bass. I selected a gorgeous Oscar Schmidt Washburn electric/acoustic guitar, and when I tried it, I admired the bassy sound that came out. After that, I was shown a hard case to protect it, and a small amplifier. They let me borrow it. I had a feeling that my neighbors would love me for that. I didn't need it for school, since they had huge ones there. Next, I signed up for private music lessons at the same music shop.
My partner and I had to decide on a name for our group. Neither of us could think of anything, but I was out shopping the next day and noticed a box with air freshener in it. When I went back to class I told my partner how I was inspired by that box. I also mentioned how I saw similarities between it and the amplifier we'd be plugging our guitars into. Our mind was made up. Our plan was not only brilliant, but meaningful. We would now be known as The Glade Plug-ins.
I changed my mind about what song we'd be playing. I finally decided on one called, What a difference a Day makes. It was originally sang by Eartha Kitt. When it came time to take my final exam, I found out afterward that I had played the same song twice. The good news was that I got a halfway decent grade for that class. I was so relieved and could now put that behind me. It was fun but also nerve wracking and now I could settle back into the normal everyday life.
What I didn't know was that later that week, I would meet up with my brother in an attempt to show off my guitar. He was going to be at a jam session in town, so I would meet him there and take my guitar with me. When the owners of the bar found out who I was and that I played guitar, they asked why I didn't sign up for the jam session. I explained that I wasn't that good and only had it there to show to my brother. He didn't seem that impressed. They came back around and asked me if I would play at least one song with them. I kept saying no, and that I didn't even have any songs memorized to play. They kept encouraging me to try it. I had one of my exam songs inside my guitar case. I showed them, knowing that they couldn't possibly know it instantly, but much to my surprise they caught on quickly, and hauled me up on the stage.
If anyone had told me I'd be up on stage playing my guitar, I wouldn't have believed them. I had seen plenty of movies on television where angry audiences booed, hissed, and hurled beer bottles, fruit, sandwiches, chairs and even lamps they'd torn off the wall. I, seriously wondered just what I'd got talked into. With just the tiniest bit of guilt, I secretly hoped that maybe all the people in the audience would already be in a drunken stupor and they'd not notice or care if I messed up, unless they instead went into liquor-induced fight syndrome.
It took less than four minutes to play. After I was done, I looked out into the sea of faces, wondering what my fate would be, and if I would live to tell about it. With chin held high, I braced myself and bravely faced the consequences.
I was quite lucky, because the announcer thanked me for my performance, and told them to give me a hand, which they did quite nicely. Just the sound of the applause made me feel better, but I still wondered what they really thought about it. It was a big step for me, but, boy, did it feel good. I drove home daydreaming about whether I would one day end up being selected as a member of the Pussycat Dolls, or if I'd just go solo and be the next Shania Twain. Those nagging thoughts crept over me though. My mind was still wondering if they, too, would clap even if my performance sounded awful.
Word Count 1446 (after edit and revise)