Diary of Patrick Cooper, Rock Star

At the Chevy Chase Community Center tonight, I took my first guitar class. I saw a brochure and signed up online.

The major points of the hour:

-I am the only member of the class to have hit puberty.

There are seven of us. I’m not good with ages, but I’d say the rest of the class topped out at 11. This situation isn’t totally foreign. I took Intro Spanish my senior year at Gonzaga. There were 14 freshman, a sophomore and me. But at least we were all in the same general stage of human development.

-The instructor wants me to play right-handed.

“Uh oh, you’ve got a left-handed guitar. Are you left-handed? Do you do everything left-handed?” The irony is that the instructor is also left-handed. He plays the guitar right-handed because he says it’s easier for lessons and using other people’s guitars. Seeing as how I’ve already bought a left-handed guitar and don’t seem amenable to playing right-handed — would you like to see my chainsaw scar, sir? — he decides to save this discussion for later.

-The class is not an introductory one.

Community center brochure be damned, the 6 p.m. session is “a class of mixed ages and skill levels.” When I arrived at the room, two plausibly 10-year-old girls were relearning the chords to Amazing Grace. The boy sitting next to me in class, also plausibly age 10, is now attempting the Star-Spangled Banner.

-I have never played anything before.

Grade school plans to play the drums and college plans to play the harmonica remain in the shed. I play air drums, own a harmonica and know nothing about either. My guitar is about a year old, purchased after my move back to Washington and my subsequent feeling that I should learn how to play something. But chords, notes, frets, strings — of these, I know nothing.

-I have completely illegitimate expectations.

I have Zeppelin expectations — Bow-wa-wow-a-wow-a, bow-wa-wow-a-wow-a, bow-wa-wowawowawowwow. HEY HEY MAMA SAID CLASS IS GREAT, GONNA START AT SIX AN’ NOT BE LATE. Ah-ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah-ah… — in a SpongeBob room.

-I have much to learn.

I am now learning the chords to three songs: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Are You Sleeping (a little Frere Jacques with your Freedom Fries) and, for the safety of my sanity, Love Me Tender.

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