Tuesday, September 25, 2018

We have the tools, and we know the Benadryl

THAT SOUND YOU HEAR? It's Johnny Cash rockin'
and rolling' over in his grave.
"I love you."

Though I had met Nancy for the first time just 10 minutes earlier, I went and told her I loved her.

Last night. Twenty four hours ago.

I'm fairly certain she didn't hear me. She was busy rooting in her purse for drugs. And I didn't mean to say, "I love you." I just sort of blurted it out, like a sneeze.

And when Nancy and I see each other again next Monday night, I'll be prepared, so the topic of love won't rear its ugly head.

But it's true. We will see each other again, me and Nancy. I'm really quite looking forward to it. And this blog isn't sounding at all like it's supposed to. Maybe I better, as they say, walk this back.....

First of all, I'm still married to my wife of more than 32 years, Helena. (32 years and 28 days to be precise.)

A few weeks back, she decided to enrol in a vegetarian Indian cooking class, offered by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). She suggested I find another special-interest course at the same time, and we could go at the same time. Pretty romantic, I know.

My first choice, and I'm not making this up, was "Blues Harmonica for Beginners."

I logged on to the TDSB's website, punched in a bunch of information, and it turned out mouth-organ class was full.

Second choice: "Almost Beginners" guitar class. It ran the same time as the veggie Indian thing and and though I've been  hacking around on the guitar since I was a little boy, I can't exactly call myself a "player."

We signed up.

Next day, Helena realized that her book club meets on Mondays so she switched her veggie class to Tuesdays. I would be going to guitar lessons, alone.
SIGNATURE TUNE:  Callo couldn't have picked a better number

Last Monday was our first class.

I hauled my beloved Fender six-string (autographed in magic marker by the late Stompin' Tom Connors) down to Central Tech, found my way up to the music room, walked in and sitting there, holding acoustic guitars in various states of preparedness, were 19 or so other students, the vast majority of whom looked exactly like me

Except for two women and one teenager,  this could have been my St. Charles College Boys School grade nine reunion.

Either that or an AA meeting. I felt at ease.

The teacher, a Latino guy named Callo who is so short that I'm taller than him even when he is standing on the second tier of the music room floor, is the most enthusiastic instructor of anything I've ever had. There were going to be no hard lessons; we were going to have fun.

Callo handed out a few pieces of paper; one with some charts on it, the other with the words and chords to "Stand By Me" and for the next 90 minutes, we all sort of traded jokes, farted around and wached time fly.  I got home and Helena said "you're sure in a good mood."
 AND ONE OF THESE DAYS: These boots are
going to stomp all over tunes.

Class number-two was last night. How great was it, you ask? Get this.

I was applauded. Not for my guitar playing; for singing. The first half of the class, Callo taught us all how to do that familiar Johnny Cash strum that I've been working on since grade, oh, 7.

Some guys in the class weren't familiar with it.

Then he taught us a simplified version of the guitar solo from--I hope you're sitting down--"Fulsom Prison Freaking Blues"--a song I know every breath of. It might be the one song I've sung out loud more than any other  beyond "Happy Birthday."

And then, during the second half of the class, after we all had the intro, the chords and the solo down pat, he said we could sing along. If we like.

Well now.

Three lines in and -- I've never used this phrase because before last night, I'd never actually done it -- I was just givin' 'er. The rest of the group wasn't even trying. Why would they? They were there to learn guitar.

Me? With my six-month-old cowboy boots keeping time and 18 or 19 acoustic guitars pounding out the chords behind me, I was completely neck deep channeling Johnny Cash. Or Waylon Jennings. Or my late brother Pat who -- like me -- believed he could sing, too.

This was Pete's Blog&Grille music.

Four times we went through the song, and each time I did my very best, and after class a few of my new buddies told me how much fun it was. One said I could be on stage.

And they were laughing. At or with me didn't matter. It was..oh. Right. Nancy.

The thing was, when I arrived at class, for some weird mysterious reason, I was having an allergy attack.

My nose was running like a busted toilet. My eyes itched and I was sneezing every 12.4 seconds.

When I first sat down, it was beside Nancy and she asked if I had a cold. I reassured her I didn't.

Then she said, "You won't think I'm weird if I ask you to move a bit further away will you? It's just that whenever you sneeze, well, it's sorta surprising, and I'll be uncomfortable."

I said something like, "I don't blame you; I don't want to be near me right now." I moved my butt one chair north.

Still, for the first five or so minutes of class, while all my chums were tuning their Yamahas and Martins, I was thinking I wouldn't be able to make it through the next two-hours.

I.  Detest.  Allergies.

Nancy leaned over. She said, "I think I might have a Benadryl. Would you take Benadryl?"

I turned and out it came: "I love you."

I didn't mean it. It's the drugs I love. But still. I know what a junkie feels like.

By that time, Nancy was poking around in her purse. She didn't  hear me. But she came up with a Benadryl. And then I had a Benadryl!

Just over 15 minutes later my sinuses had dried up; I could see clearly now and I wasn't wheezing or snorting. I got down to serious belting out.

Like most of my life, I have a feeling these classes are going to go by way too fast.

I'm so glad I signed up. But "Almost Beginners" guitar class is nothing to sneeze at.

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