Monthly Archives: July 2011

Another Man’s Guitar

With a subtle shrug of his shoulders, responsibility fell to the floor. He gently grasped history and began to strum the tune of his dreams. Timidly at first, soaking in the moment, he picked out the notes of his childhood. Soon the notes became chords and the chords became a strain – a symphony of aspirations suppressed but not forgotten. His awe of the instrument began to blend with his joy of the music and soon the two were so intertwined that he could not make a distinction between the harmony of his wonder and his revelry. Time that seemed to speed up as his body slowed down, suddenly came to a halt, and he was suspended in the moment. He clung to the old guitar just as the great ones before him. They had walked the line and triumphed through fire and fear and miles of hopeless desperation. Every sound – whether from the fingers of the man in black or the hands of the crowds that cheered for him – led up to this singular occasion in time. Every tear, every bead of sweat, every sleepless night or drunken stupor, every confession of love or rush of angry emotion; now lay softly on his lap. The melody swirled around him, awakening the child within, and renewing his passion. But time, cruel as she is, put life back into motion. And as the chorus faded into the air, he found himself back in his office. His profession beckoned; there was much to be done. Deadlines and details waited in tidy stacks for him to handle. Phones chirped and voices echoed through the halls. The guitar case was closed like a vault before he even had time to grasp his surroundings, much less bid the instrument farewell. But the strings of remembrance could still be felt on his fingertips and the contentment of his first love still rang in his ears. As he slowly stood up, dutifully ready to get back to the trappings of adulthood, the lyrics of his anthem  danced once more through his mind, “I’m old enough to have drawn blood, yet still young enough to bleed.”

My old friend, Dutch, had the opportunity to play Luther Perkins' guitar today. It was the guitar used by Johnny Cash to record Walk the Line. For one of the most incredible musicians to never make the big time, I'm sure this was an awesome experience. I wasn't there to witness it, but this is how it went in my mind.

I Can Handle That.

There is something about being honest with yourself. Sometimes I think we are more honest with other people than we are with ourselves. But then again, there are those of us that just hear whatever we want to hear regardless of what is actually being said. Generally speaking, there are a few phrases that tend to be confusing for many people. These phrases are “I just want to be friends” and “I can handle that.”

“I just want to be friends” is a phrase often uttered by a male to a female. What the guy is really trying to convey to the girl in this situation is “I just want to be friends.” But in many cases, what the female hears is “I just want to be friends with you right now, but I bet if we were to continue to hang out together, like all the time, and you did a bunch of nice stuff for me like my laundry or cook things for me or have sex with me a lot; I bet I would wake up one day and realize that I’m actually in love with you and that nothing would make me happier than making you my wife.”

Similarly, when a woman is in a conversation with a man and he says something like “I just want to be friends,” she may reply with the phrase “I can handle that.”  Now what the female really means in this instance is “I can tell myself that I can handle that and I can do my best to constantly suppress my true feelings for you while falling deeper and deeper in love with you, and then I will beat myself up over the fact that you were honest with me from the start and I was really the stupid one to think I could handle it even though I can’t so it’s really my fault and not your fault at all; and now the only real question is whether I should totally loose it emotionally and go off the deep end in a public place, preferably in front of your new girlfriend and your coworkers, or if I should eat nothing but Ben and Jerry’s until I’ve gained fifty pounds and only leave the house when I absolutely must go to the grocery to buy food for the seven cats I’ve adopted from the local shelter, most of which are mange ridden and unlovable – just like me, or if maybe I should just start using meth and become a back alley hooker.” Although this seems implied, many men do not actually take this away from that simple phrase. What they incorrectly hear and understand is, “She can handle that.”

So is it that we are not honest with each other? Or is it that we seem to just hear what we want to hear and say what we think people want us to say? I think guys and girls do this equally. Or maybe girls do it a little more than guys do. I’m not sure where I’m going with this except maybe this: If you love someone and they tell you they just want to be friends, just be honest with yourself. You can’t handle that. Just walk away. If you haven’t really changed, but you want to; don’t say you’ve changed. Say that you haven’t changed, but that you want to. I’m all for that “if you can believe it you can achieve it” bull-crap, but you know what? Saying it doesn’t make it so. If it did, I’d be a size two, tan person living off my monthly interest payments on my vast fortune amassed from sales of my best-selling novels.