Saturday, July 25, 2015

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

When I was in my first full-time job, I had two friends who were seriously in the market for the guys who would be good enough to marry them.  We would sit at lunch and I would listen to them make lists of the qualities that their husbands would have to have.

I thought about what I wanted as well: I didn't care what his profession was, but a man who wore nice suits and wing-tip shoes to work. A good tan to set off the crisp white (or I would accept baby blue) shirts and rep ties that he would wear.  A nice car (the BFF was dating a guy with a yellow Corvette). And, when the time was right, someone who would propose to me with a heart-shaped diamond engagement ring.

When I met Wingman, the list went right out the window.  He was a part-time bartender going to a local community college after giving up an out of state football scholarship because he was homesick.  His wardrobe consisted of one peach polyester suit, and a drawer full of tank tops and tee shirts with holes. He had a motorcycle as well as a car with no muffler that sounded like her nickname: "The African Queen". And, after dating him for six years, he gave me not a rock, but a rocking chair to "seal the deal".

But he did have this great guitar.

Not actually a guitar but a bass.  A Rickenbacker 4001 Fireglow. The same brand of guitar that John Lennon played. And Paul McCartney on occasion. And that was cool, especially for a band-following groupie like myself. I didn't get the business professional but I got me a rock star.

He loved that bass.  It was never put in the trunk of his car, lest someone run into the back end and damage it. At home, it was stored behind his recliner where he could pull it out and play it while watching the Yankees or golf. But after the Beatles band he was in broke up and he was estranged from the guys he use to play with, over the years he took it out less and less.

When he died, the boys and I brought it to the funeral home-the first time it had been touched in probably two years. Afterwards, I put it back behind his chair where it stayed.

Until Sandy. That bitch of a storm had no mercy.

So much of the first floor was destroyed by three feet of water. The Ric got soaked.  I took it out of its case to dry out on the lawn while we piled up everything to go to the curb. Setting it in the sun didn't help it-rather the Ric started warping and splitting right down the middle, like a broken heart. A friend of ours who came to help asked if he could take it with him and try and fix it. With no expectations, I gladly turned it over to him.  He consulted a guy who makes and repairs guitars for some of the biggest rock stars.  He bought humidifiers and set up a room to dry it out, which took months. He removed every part and either repaired or replaced them. Finally last summer-a full year and a half later-he called and said he finished it. And it looked so good and played so well, I couldn't put it back in a closet. (Besides, the case to store it got ruined in Sandy anyway).  So it's been sitting in the corner of the living room for almost another whole year, being moved only when I vacuum.

Until last week when granddaughter #2 came over and wanted to play "the ukelele". As she plucked the strings, I couldn't help but remember back to the times Wingman would sit on the same couch with the Ric in hand, watching Jeff Beck and his female bassist Tal Wilkenfeld, and since the boys weren't interested, wish that he had a daughter whom he could teach the bass to.
And while I'm sure that, considering her parents athletic abilities, she will be the greatest dancer/lacrosse/softball player in the family, maybe, just maybe, he'll get his wish as well.

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