Once Upon A Time
It was my third high school. I was sitting in Auto Shop Class. It was the only elective available for someone who transferred mid-semester. Mr Lingenfelter was talking about draining brake fluid when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I leaned back without turning around.
Do you play bass? he asked.
I was surprised at the question so I turned around. He had long blonde hair, a mouth full of braces in a mouth too big for his small face.
Uh, I can play scales on a guitar?
Good enough. Wanna be in my band?
I don't have a bass.
I have one you can use.
Cool. You're in.
I had no idea what I was doing the first time I played with Doug's band - aptly named Confusion. The bass he had for me was a garage sale special with action so bad I had to almost stand on a string to get it to the fret board.
At the same time I was a regular at my local church youth group. They needed a bass player so, I volunteered as tribute. The church had a much nicer Fender Squire bass. I liked it. So... I borrowed it on occasion for my not so jesus-y gigs with Confusion.
My grades were improving (to this day I have no idea how I actually graduated) and my dad realized I was actually doing this music thing.
A year later, for Christmas, I had this gorgeous red thing under the tree.
|She likes to be slapped.|
I need to stop right here and disabuse you of any notion that I was at good at playing bass. I was a hack. But seventeen year old girls can't tell the difference between a bass and a guitar and that was fine with me.
Eventually, Confusion disbanded. College and shit.
I also left the church and it's band of merriment makers.
When I joined the Air Force I took her with me. First to Monterey, then to Dover. I jammed here and there. Even joined a band for a time in Delaware.
I also had a temperamental ex. She was not a fan of me or my bass. Really, that relationship is a case study of why nineteen year old manchilds should never be allowed to date.
One day, whilst I was serving our glorious country on a base in a state you cannot find on a map, she decided to take a machete to my gorgeous bass and toss it off our second story apartment balcony.
It was the first time in my life I seriously considered homicide. I knew I could dump her into the Atlantic and she would never be found. I also knew I would be the most likely suspect.
I took the broken bits and drove her to a local music store. In Delaware that meant driving to Maryland.
Music repairman suggested buying a new bass. Said it would be more cost effective. I said no. He suggested I replace the entire neck, bridge, fret board. I said no. He said it wouldn't ever play or sound the same. I said I don't care. He said filling the gouges and repainting would cost more than a new bass. I said that is superficial so leave it. Just make her work again.
He repaired her.
|If you really look, you can see where the fret board separated from the neck.|
Like she'd lived the blues.
For years I left her naked, her scars on display for the world.
Then, one day, I stopped playing.
She got put in her case and put away.
Then, one day, my dad died.
When the hullabaloo that accompanies all deaths and funerals finally subsided, I took her out.
She was a connection to my dad. She was one of the few connections with him that I didn't have to share.
After a time I put her away again. I moved on in my life. Back to Monterey. Then onto a life with TGB.
When we made our home here in Mexico Beach I took her out again. I decided she needs to breathe, be a part of this world. So I put her on display.
She is a beautiful mess of a bass, but she is a self-conscious girl. So I covered her scars.
|Little bits of the life I have lead cover her scars.|
After the hurricane she went back into her case and back into storage.
Now, she is finally home. She is safe and has a view of the sea from her lofty perch on my office wall.
Don't worry, she will get played. A lot.
You can always put to music what you can't say in words. That's what my dad once told me.
The bass guitar is a far superior instrument to a guitar, or even a piano. A bass carries a song. It is the foundation. Without it, your favorite song sucks.
The bass gives a song its soul.
That is my religion.