Steve sat on the edge of his bed and fingered a new chord on his acoustic guitar. A drop of sweat rolled down his forehead. He’d been practicing for a few hours now and was just starting to tire. His fingers were hurt and cracking through his calluses. But, he was eager to show his best friend Tom what he’d been learning the last few months.
Tom met Steve freshman year of college. They found each other through their campus’s commuter events during orientation. Tom made the first joke – something perverted – and Steve referenced it to some of their other mutual friends many times throughout their orientation. Tom was a loyal friend. Steve considered him sort of kingly the way he constantly read the news and gave accurate advice.
When Steve brushed the sweat away, he began to play. Tom sat in Steve’s La-Z-Boy leather recliner across from him and watched him play the next song. Steve taught himself how to play a few songs the past eight months. Tom noticed how he played most of those songs very well; the timing between notes was great and he maintained a great rhythm. He was making a few minor errors, but nothing that wouldn’t happen to the best guitarists. Tom gave Steve a mini-applause when he finished.
“You taught yourself all those songs?” he asked.
“Yeah, with some help from youtube. What did you think?”
“Not bad, man. What inspired you to do all this?”
Steve rolled his eyes, then looked Tom in his pupils. “You know why.”
“You wrote and published a book of emotional poems for your ex and now this?”
“Well, this isn’t just for her. I’ve always wanted to learn how to play this baby,” Steve said patting his guitar’s neck, “but now I feel like I need to prove to someone, anyone that I’ve done some personal development over time.”
“And let me guess – you feel like learning the guitar accelerates that process?”
“Exactly,” Steve agreed. This wasn’t anything new for Tom. He’d been hearing it for over a year now; I want my girlfriend back. In spite of the improbabilty of the task at hand, Steve was at least dating other girls. Well, trying to. Most of them lost attraction for him because of how quiet Steve is naturally. Tom felt that, even though his motives behind why he was doing some of these things was wrong, at least he was making strides to improve himself. “But what did you think of my playing?” Steve asked.
“Very good man,” Tom said. “You’re very focused. I can tell the way you keep your eyes on what you’re doing. The fingers on your left hand are a little slow getting to the right notes, but they do get there in time. And you definitely taught yourself an awesome playlist in terms of lyrics, beat, and popularity.” Tom leaned back and raised the legs of the recliner. “What’s your plan once you officially know what you’re doing?”
“I want to start a band, dude,” he said. “You’d be the drummer of course because of how talented you are. Then I want to start touring around Jersey – from Nutley to Cherry Hill to Cape May. I don’t want to establish any invitations at bars or anything, but I want to play in the open, under the bright sun. I want people to hear us, to notice us. And when they ask who we are and why we’re playing, we can make up our own stories. And I can tell them that I’m rocking to show my ex-girlfriend that I’m a different man. I want this whole state to know what I’m doing – with the help of my loyal friends.
Think about it. We’d get to travel to every city, try new amazing restaurants, explore museums and go for long walks in the parks or on the beaches. There’d be girls everywhere for all of us. Girls in bikinis and short skirts with low cut tops. Well – okay I guess I wouldn’t tell them what I’m doing. But just imagine the fun we’d have!”
Tom laughed. “You’ve got quite the imagination. You want to start a New Jersey street band with the purpose of getting Amy back? Girls don’t mope about at home, you know. Odds are that we’d play in her town and she’d be off somewhere else… with her new boyfriend.”
“But that’s why we’d play during the day on Saturdays and Sundays. And I would spread word of what I’m doing. I’m in it for my ex, you could be in it for fun or to meet a band to join. Who cares!”
“But that’s not what we’re really doing. We’d really just be helping you.”
“Well, I can’t have a band where I play every instrument.”
Tom rolled his eyes. He knew Steve was trying to conceal his egocentrism, but he wanted to see his best friend happy again. “Okay, so then let’s say we’re playing a song and you see her in the crowd. What would you do? Stop? Address her? Or play a song that she’d recognize from your relationship?”
“The last one.”
“Oh, I know exactly which song,” Steve grinned. “Exactly which.”