Play a Guitar!!


I love music and my grandma could play any kind of musical instrument. She never had any lessons. She played by ear and she could play any song you wanted her to play as long as she had heard it before. She played the guitar, piano, and harpsichord. We would visit grandma and grandpa every Sunday after church. Grandma always had a big spread for lunch and later in the afternoon, we would gather in the living room and she would play the piano for us. As she played I would sing along with her.  Boy, I still love to sing. My grandparents had a big farm. I believe it was about one hundred and twenty acres and I thought it was the size of Texas because it was so big. All us kids use to run around that farm and stayed busy playing all day. Me and my cousin use to go to this big rock and sing songs. We pretended that we were movie stars and singers.   Every Sunday we practiced and practiced and we just knew on day we would either become famous singers or movie stars.

My mom and dad got divorced when I was young and later, she started dating this man who played the guitar. He was really good at it and we would go to his friend’s house and they would play and sing all night long.  They had an entire band including, electric guitar, bass guitar, acoustic guitars, drums, a steel guitar, a bass fiddle, a banjo and a fiddle.   My mom’s boyfriend taught me some chords on the guitar and he would let me use his guitar to practice. His guitar was huge and I could barely get my hand around the neck to press the strings. I learned a few songs and got pretty good at it.  Then, after about a year, my mom and her boyfriend broke up.

I don’t know if my mom was proud of me for sticking with something so long or if she just felt sorry for me because I no longer had a guitar to play, but she decided to buy me a guitar for Christmas. I had no idea I was getting a guitar until she wrapped it and put it under the tree.  Have you ever seen a guitar wrapped up under a Christmas tree? Well, it’s pretty oblivious what is and even though the present had no name tag on it, I knew it was mine. It was two weeks before Christmas and I couldn’t take my eyes off that present.  Day after day I would look at that present and wonder if it was really a guitar. It must be; what else would be shaped like that?  One Saturday Mom had to work until noon and I just happened to get up early that morning. I turned the television on and sat there for a few minutes. Then I felt my eyes drifting towards that present. Dang it! I got to quit thinking about that present. I got up and fixed a bowl of Cocoa Puffs and sat back down on the couch. Took a bite; got up and turned the television to a different channel. Took another bite; got up and switched the channel again. Took another bite; look at that present. Took another bite. Got up and looked out the window. Sat back down; took another bite; looked at that present. Took a bite; looked at the clock; looked at the present; looked at the clock; took a bite; looked at the clock; calculated the hours until Mom would be home. Got up and turned the television off; look out the window to make sure I was alone. Went over to the Christmas tree and pick up that present. Yep, I did something I have never done before. I opened my present before Christmas. I was careful not to tear the paper because I had to wrap it back up when I finished looking at it. That was the prettiest guitar I had ever seen. It was smaller than the one Mom’s boyfriend had. I put it in my lap and placed my hand around the neck and man-o-man it was a perfect fit. I pressed my left fingers on the strings to play the C chord and I took my right hand and strummed the strings. What I heard was the most awful sound in the world. I should have put that guitar up right then, but I didn’t. I knew exactly what was wrong; it was out of tune and I had seen grandma tune her guitar so many times, I knew I could do it. Grandma called it plucking it in tune. I still had a couple of hours before Mom would get home so there I sat plucking, strumming and tuning. Play a G – tighten the string. Play a C – loosen the string. Play a D – tighten the string. G – tighter; D – tighter; C – looser. Pluck and strum; pluck and strum. After about thirty minutes, I almost had the guitar in tune. All I needed to do was tighten one more string. That’s when it happened. I turned the string just a little bit to tighten it and pling – damn string broke in half. Holy crap! Now what was I gonna do?

Think, think, think! Ah! Superglue.  The problem was, I didn’t have any superglue. I telephoned my friend who lived down the street but she wasn’t at home. I didn’t have any money so I couldn’t go to the store and buy any. Mom would be home soon. Damn it! I did the only thing I could do; I wrapped up the guitar and placed it back under the tree and it looked exactly like it did two hours ago. My plan was to get some superglue, and then when Mom left the house I would glue the string together. I kept trying to get in touch with my friend but she wasn’t home all day. Mom came home and boy, was I good the rest of the day. I have these facial expressions that give me away a lot of times. So I stayed away from Mom the best I could because I knew my face had “panic” written all over it. I finally got a hold of my friend that night.  I told her I would come by the next day and pick up the superglue. Next problem? We were going to grandma and grandpa’s house the next morning so we wouldn’t be home all day. Well, I decided I still had a few days left and I had plenty of time to fix the guitar before Christmas. We spend all day at my grandparent’s house and when we got home I took a bath and went to bed.

Us kids were out of school for Christmas vacation, so I got to sleep late again. When I got up, Mom had already gone to work.  I turned the television on and fixed a bowl of Cocoa Puffs. It was close to ten o’clock and when I finished my breakfast.  I put my cloths on and brush my teeth and brushed my hair. I put my coat on; jumped on my bike and headed down the street to my friend’s house. She gave me the superglue and I went back home to repair the broken string. I went into the house, took off my coat and went straight to the Christmas tree. What the hell? The present was gone. I look at every present under that tree, but it wasn’t there. Maybe Mom found out I had opened it and it made her mad and she took it back to the store. Maybe it wasn’t mine to begin with. I was bumfuzzled and I didn’t know what to do. I thought she must have hidden it because she hadn’t had time to return it to the store. I looked everywhere; in every closet, under every bed, and I even looked in our dirt basement. It was not there. There is only one other place it could be – in Mom’s car.

When Mom got home, I went outside and looked all over her car. Not in the car anywhere, so it must be in the trunk. I waited until Mom was taking a bath and I snuck her car keys out and opened the trunk. Wouldn’t you know it; it wasn’t in there either. Where the heck could it be? I wanted to ask her, but I didn’t have enough guts. Christmas was just a couple of days away, and I was hoping that guitar would show up soon. Christmas Eve came and still no guitar. By then I was absolutely convinced that Mom had hidden it really good and would bring it out Christmas morning. Maybe she would pretend it was from Santa Clause. Christmas morning came, no guitar. Now I was really puzzled and a bit worried. What could have happened to it?  It took all I had not to say anything, but I never did. I just went on like nothing in the world was wrong.

After we opened our gifts that morning, we went to my grandparent’s house. Everybody was there.  My brother, my sister, my cousins, my aunt and uncle, Mom and Grandma and Grandpa. We had a big lunch and all of us kids were excited when it came time to open our gifts. We all gathered in the living room and since my sister was the oldest, she got to hand out the presents. Just when she had handed out about half of the presents I spotted it. Lo and behold, there was my guitar. Evidently Mom was so excited about giving it to me; she wanted everybody to be there when I opened it. They all kept trying to get me to open it, but I was dreading opening it, so I saved it for last.  When I finally opened it, I pretended to be surprised and so happy.  Just a minute after I opened it, I was going to put it away so nobody could see that the string was broken. I was going to put it on the bed with all our coats and as soon as I walked toward the bedroom, Grandma wanted to see it. Of course as soon as I handed it to her she noticed the string was broken. No one could figure out how in the world that could have happened. I suggested that they must have done it in the store. Mom did admit that she had ordered it from the Sears and Roebuck catalog and she didn’t really look at it that well when she got it. Everybody felt really bad for me, but Grandma played the guitar even without that one string. Later in the week, Mom went down to the Sears and Roebuck store and fussed about the broken string, but it didn’t do any good. Now, I don’t know how I manage to get myself in these situations, but after that episode, I never opened another present before it was time.

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