The Five-Song Juke Box
I’ve been called a lot of things in my day. When I was in sixth-grade, a girl at Fastnight Swimming Pool looked at my crotch and called me pencil-d*ck. I took it in stride. In fact, I used that callous statement to formulate a rule for all men. When dancing close with a woman, never carry any of the following things in your pocket: Miniature golf pencils, a package of Certs, a single Vienna Sausage, etc.
Recently, I’ve earned a new nickname…The Five-Song Juke Box.
I come from a long line of mediocre musicians. My Grandpa in his day could pick a mean guitar. I’ve got uncles who play mandolin, cousins who can sing so it will melt your heart, a Dad who can turn out a pretty good version of The Flying Burrito Brothers’ “Sin City,” and a long list of pseudo-uncles and cousins who can turn a guitar into something quite listenable.
So, when I was 12, I picked up my Dad’s old Kay (the strings sat about two feet off the neck), some chicken-scratch directions my Dad wrote, and taught myself to play. Years passed before I could play any song from beginning to end. But I got better and better.
I helped form a garage band. The Flaming Puppies (working album title: “Pet us. It won’t Burn”). We had fun, learned a lot, and the bass player married my 7th grade girlfriend. We don’t talk much anymore.
I went to college and spent years on decks and back porches playing for my friends. I wrote dirty songs about oral sex and baseball players who all the girls wanted to sleep with. There was a time I knew about 100 songs word for word, note for note. I could sit on a porch and play for three or four hours without playing the same song twice. Most people were encouraging. But it was about that time that I realized, the back porch guitar player can get a little annoying.
After college, I contained my guitar-rambling to myself for a few years. My short career as an un-paid medorice public musician was on hiatus.
Then I moved here and fell in with some riff-raff (also known as my very good friends) who owned and sometimes played guitar, drums, piano, etc. I broke the old guit-fiddle back out and started playing again. I realized quickly that my 100-song repertoire had fallen on hard times. I still remembered a lot, but a lot was lost in the bottom of a Stag beer bottle.
I kept playing, even kicked out a new song about a friend who is too virile for his own good. But, those old lingering feelings about being Annoying Guitar Guy kept coming up. I started doing my best to limit my performances. But it came back and bit me in the ass.
Virile Friend dubbed me the Five Song Jukebox. The implication…or maybe it is an inferrence…is that I only know five songs and it gets pretty annoying listening to them over and over again.
I don’t know what to do with this nickname. I mean, over the years, I’ve annoyed a lot of people. My parents who had to go through the years of learning. Willard High School basketball fans who couldn’t undertsand why the rhythm section of the jazz band was mounting a mutiny and playing something much louder and crunchier than the Tiger of San Pedro. Neighbors who were trying to figure out why three guys were singing the lyric “Tude likes to show his penis” over and over again. Drunken party-goers who had heard one too many requests for some Indigo Girls. And now…this.
So now I have a decision to make…do I re-learn the 100 songs I once knew or unplug the juke box for a while?
This all made a little more sense when I was an underaged drunk who could pick up girls with a piece of wood and six metal strings.