Last week I took time off from work to relax and get some projects done around the house. The first few days were very productive. It’s amazing, when you really have no life to speak of, how totally satisfying it can be to do something like arrange your dress shirts in order based on the colors of the light spectrum. Towards the end of the week I finished most of the menial tasks I had on my vacation “to do” list, and was looking for a fun activity. I glanced at my WWTCD bracelet for inspiration. “What Would Tom Cruise Do?” I asked myself.
I have recently turned to this celebrity for guidance and inspiration. I used to resent Tom Cruise because of his money, film career, money, beautiful wife, and enormous amounts of money. But then I realized, rather than be consumed with petty jealousy, I should embrace Tom. He has earned his success. Besides, in addition to being a Hollywood celebrity, I heard that he is also a scientist. How can you not respect a person who wears a cool white lab coat and explores nature in order to discover general principles?
I remembered reading in an article that to prepare for his next movie role as a musician in a rock ‘n’ roll band, Tom had to learn play the guitar and sing. What a wonderful idea. I could spend the final days of my vacation practicing the guitar and singing.
While the culmination of my efforts would not result in a movie role, perhaps I could perform in the area. Ed Dufresne writes a column in this paper titled Capital Sounds in which he informs readers of venues for live music in central Vermont. I could look to future columns for an open mic night, and thrill the local folk with my amazing musical talents. I was so happy with this plan that I went into the living room and started jumping up and down on the sofa in honor of Mr. Cruise.
Now that I had a sense of direction, I had some work to do. I have an old guitar, but to assume I’m a guitarist would be like assuming a kid that owns a Superman cape can fly. Without bragging, I would say my guitar skills fall somewhere in the range of very limited to non-existent.
The first thing I did was take the guitar out of the case and tune it. Next, it was time to get to the important stuff. There were many decisions to be made. I stood in front of the mirror. Shirt on or shirt off? Conventional strum or windmill strum? Leather pants or spandex? Hair plugs or attachments?
I was getting too caught up in the minutia of performing. It was time to practice. I sat down and spent literally minutes preparing. Once I memorized the three chords and four verses of lyrics to the classic Credence Clearwater Revival song Proud Mary, I was ready for some feedback. I needed a test audience. Up to this point in my musical career, I had never played the guitar in front of actual people. Fortunately my sons were not home, so I was able to keep this record intact. I went to the kitchen, saw my dog “Yogi,” and asked if he would mind coming to my room for a minute. He stared at me with a look that said he would pencil me in for the afternoon, but that he couldn’t promise me anything as he anticipated a busy day of sleeping, scratching, and getting into the trash.
Yogi underestimated my powers of persuasion. I grabbed a dog biscuit and walked down the hallway, and he followed closely at my heels. Once we were inside the bedroom I closed the door and had a captive audience.
I sat in a chair in the middle of the room. “I want to thank you all for coming tonight,” I said, practicing my rapport with the audience. Yogi rolled his eyes and started licking himself. This was going to be a tough crowd.
I started strumming the guitar and the dog began to whimper. As soon as I began to sing, Yogi proceeded to bark furiously and scratch at the door looking for an exit. This was not going well. The test audience hated me. It was time to end this fantasy and move on.
I went to the computer, Googled Tom Cruise, and learned that he is still racing cars. Now this was an idea that sounded fun.
After putting on a bike helmet and a pair of leather gloves, I asked Yogi if he wanted to go for a ride in the car. When he wagged his tail, and I knew it was going to be a great afternoon.
Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.MORE IN Letters
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