DON’T ASK-Pre-mid-life crisis comes with a twang

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DAVID VOGEL
I think I’m going through a pre-mid-life crisis.

Generally, a guy begins his mid-life crisis when he realizes that his life is half over, and that the rock band he thought was “real neato” as a teenager can now only perform on wheelchair accessible stages.

I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly strong individual, and believed I would be able to overcome any complications mid-life threw at me. However, here I am, almost 17 years old, and I’m already showing signs of a crisis.

For example, I recently began listening to country music.

I blame this particular part of my pre-mid-life crisis partially on my girlfriend, a friend who frequently leaves her car keys in other people’s vehicles. As a result, I’ve ended up giving her several rides.

On one particular ride, she decided that my car’s clock needed to be set to the correct time. I did have to agree with Amanda on this, mainly because, since I bought my car last May, it has never been anywhere near the correct time, primarily because I’ve been too lazy to fix it.

I was OK with her setting my clock, but when she decided to program country stations into my radio, I became a little leery. However, now, if you happened to get into my car and turn on the radio-and I’m in no way advocating this-you would hear country music.

This bothers me, mainly because only a few weeks ago I would have smugly proclaimed that country singers were a bunch of wimps who have a pessimistic outlook on life, and that the band that sings about life being a highway-Southern Weenies, I would have called it-needs to find something else to do “all night long.”

But now I find myself singing along, even to the one that goes, “We’re from the country and we like it that way.”

And in another song, when Josh Turner and I sing our duet about “If I gave you my hand would you take it and make me the happiest man in the world,” I wrench myself out of my seat, gripping the steering wheel, and we wail away about just how happy it would make us.

In our country twang voices, of course.

Then I realize there’s someone standing right by my car, watching me sing. So I start acting as if I’m really having a terrible coughing fit, and leave the rest about “if I told you my heart couldn’t beat one more minute without you, girl” to Josh to finish up by himself.

You can probably see to just what extent this pre-mid-life crisis is affecting me.

The realization of my crisis came about several weeks ago, when I randomly mentioned in a large group of people that I wanted to learn how to play bass guitar. Of course, the God of Let’s Make This More Pertinent Than He Intended caused another person to tell me that they had a bass guitar for sale.

Having no experience playing a stringed instrument, very little free time to learn and even less money, I of course said, “I’m very interested.”

The only experience I’ve had playing a guitar was when, at 4 years old, I had one made out of a shoebox, rubber bands and a paper towel tube. At that time, I considered myself to be a pretty good player.

On the other hand, I also considered myself to be a pretty good astronaut just because I could yell incoherent commands from inside a refrigerator box.

The person selling the bass is letting me have it for a trial period, so I can decide whether it’s something I want to pursue.

I’m very thankful for her lenience, mainly because I have a tendency to get really passionate about learning something for a short period, and then move on. Here I am reflecting on a period of about two weeks in fourth grade when I thought jazz dance would be really cool.

But getting back to the point, I now have in my possession a fairly expensive bass guitar, which I can play no better than I could play a kitchen utensil, say, a wok.

Can you see where I’m starting to get a little concerned?

I think the main reason I want to learn to play bass guitar is that it will open a lot more opportunities for me than the other instrument I play. I play trombone, which is great unless you want to be popular.

I want to be the foundation of the music. I want to be the notes that go way below the bass clef. I want to be the rumble that vibrates your major organs at live concerts.

(Then again, the rumbling in your lower intestines could be the chili dog you ate before the concert.)

So I’ve equipped myself with a small amplifier and several “teach yourself” resources from various friends, who are humoring me through this difficult time in my life.

Mid-life crises are defined by someone making changes in their lives. I’m starting to see that definition in myself. I’m listening to new music. I’m attempting to learn a more “hip” instrument. And on top of that, I’m letting people change the time on my car’s clock!

I may as well buy myself a custom chopper and sit back and listen to the hair growing in my ears as I prematurely age. Maybe I’ll even go out and get myself a toupee.

But I plan to overcome this crisis. Admitting I have a problem is the first step to a full recovery.

The second step is figuring out the base line to “Louie Louie.”

* * *

UFO: The wok originated as a Bronze Age Mongolian helmet. It later doubled as a cooking pan. (Perhaps in the heat of battle. Pun painfully intended.)

Don’t ask why.

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