Monday, June 17, 2013

“Lose Your Fingers!”

A recent, lengthy walk to the edges of Bensonhurst led me to a folksy-looking bric-a-brac shop. Inside, below racks and rows of delicate teacups, porcelain figurines and various other pieces of precariously-cluttered daintiness, there beamed a beautiful, flame-colored electric guitar. The mock Fender's presence seemed like a deliberate artistic statement: a discordant bit of loudness among the myriad quiet, fragile, civilized things displayed.

I expressed interest. “Fifty dollars,” said the jovial, Eastern European shopkeeper, “but for you, forty-five.” When I turned-down the offer, he said, good-humoredly, “I hope it doesn’t end-up with one of those bands that smash their instruments at the end!” He repeatedly smashed an air guitar and laughed to himself.

On the walk home, I decided that I had made a mistake. I thought about the guitar constantly. I even decided to give it a name: "Jocylin." Several more days of rumination passed before I returned.

Jocylin was still there, smiling her big, fierce guitar-grin. I walked over. A small boy, perhaps the store owner’s son, seemed to mirror my enthusiasm. He wanted me to play.

“You gotta do it,” encouraged the boy, “lose your fingers!”

“Lose your fingers?”

“Yeah!” said the kid, “you gotta lose your fingers!” That extra “L” struck me as a perfect metaphor. I held Jocylin for him and began alternating between C- and G-Major as he pawed the strings with his fingertips. The two of us spent a minute "losing our fingers" on the guitar, smiling widely all the while.

I bought the guitar and high-fived the kid as I left.

Once outside, I defrocked Jocilyn from the plastic bag that the shopkeeper ridiculously wrapped her body in: the world should see her. At first, I carried Jocilyn by the neck – like a dead, flame-colored phoenix, ready to burn and reemerge, electric and anew – but because holding Jocilyn in this way felt somehow disrespectful, I instead began carrying her like an assault rifle. As I forged ahead through the streets, as high on adrenaline as a successful revolutionary, it occurred to me that I was wielding a far more powerful weapon: all an assault rifle can do is kill a man.

Jocilyn turned heads. Once, a group of kids, away from their mother’s tether, saw the guitar, stopped what they were doing, and lined-up against a wall: staring awe-eyed, as though for a newly-coronated king in his first royal ride down High Street.

For the amp, I went inside a local music store, where I gravitated towards the black hole in the center letter of “VOX.” I was sold once the owner mentioned the “wah wah” sound effect option, hearkening me back to that bizarre advertisement/track on Pebbles Box of Trash:

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