How to Become a Rock Star

First, make sure to take as many lessons as possible with the elementary school orchestra. Drive your parents crazy until they buy you the much desired violin. Imagine yourself playing at the school concert and everyone standing up cheering and clapping. Go home and play for your parents. Ignore their expressions of pain as you screech out song after song for them. Your dad nods and says that maybe you could use a little more practice. Your mom smiles and tells you it was wonderful, but maybe you should practice on the back porch from now on.

Glare at her, feel completely put off, but go practice on the back porch. The neighbors come outside. Mr. Rickers asks you to please stop making that racket. You glare at him and say you have to practice. His wife peers across the fence also. She's short little woman with hair that reminds you of a mushroom top. You can only see her eyes right now. She informs you that the baby was asleep, but now is wide awake and screaming for attention. Apologize and mope. Decide that maybe you'll just get better if you play more loudly in class.

At first it seems that your method is working. Everyone stops to watch you play, surely out of admiration. The sixth grader behind you "accidentally" smacks you in the back of the head with his viola. You stop playing and give him a dirty look. The conductor frowns at you and suggests that maybe you should play a little more softly, and it might be even better if you would play the notes on the page. You glower at him and inform him that you're an artist, normal music cannot contain your vision. You're just too brilliant to be in this orchestra, you tell him.

He suggests that perhaps instead of being in the orchestra, maybe you'd like to be in the principal's office. Do three days detention for mouthing a teacher. Decide that maybe you would not like to play the violin. After all, sixth graders can join the band and that's only a year away. Two years later, you finally join the band. At this point, since they pretty much have all the positions filled, your choices are limited to the French horn or the oboe. You argue with the teacher and insist that you want to play the accordion. When he informs you that there is no accordion position, you get angry at him, but agree to play the French horn.

Go to four practices. Decide to murder the person who invented the French horn. Go to the library and look up everything you can about the inventor and see if you can track him down. Find out that he died over a hundred years ago. Mope. The librarian asks you what's wrong. You reply that your attempts at murderous revenge have been thwarted at the earliest stage. She stares at you blankly and says "Well, if you need help finding anything, just let me know."

Go home.

Throw the French horn off the back porch.

The neighbors come out and yell at you for making so much noise. You apologize, gather up your French horn, and go back inside. Your mom asks you why your French horn has a dent in it. You say a word that your mother doesn't think a twelve year old should know. She smacks you across the butt and demands to know where you learned that kind of language. You make a mental note not to say that in front of your mom again.

Return the French horn to the band instructor. Insist that the dent was in it when he gave it to you. You scold him for giving you a defective instrument and inform him you're quitting the band because of his incompetence. He's not amused. He suggests that you should go to the principal's office to discuss the matter. You do five days detention for destruction of school property. The principal tells you that it's best that you don't try to learn to play any other instruments at this school. "If you like music so much, why not join the chorus?"

A year later, you decide to give the chorus a try. Go to one practice, complain about the costume. "I feel like a girl." You say. Give a lengthy speech about being kept down by the adults who think they're so superior. Say some very pretty words about the costume to the teacher. The teacher tells you not to come back and once again sends you to the principal's office. He bans you from all music programs indefinitely. "Maybe when you get to high school." He says noncommittally. He gives you a day of suspension for repeatedly disrespecting authority figures.

At least you didn't get detention, you muse. Your mother doesn't see it the same way. "Wait until your father hears about this!" she grinds out and you retreat to your bedroom.

Your parents decide that being grounded would help your attitude. As punishment you're supposed to clean the garage. That means organizing all your parents stuff from their crazy eighties days. In one box you stumble across an old cassette labeled Black Sabbath. Get your first taste of angry rock music. You've finally found the music you've been looking for.

Start wearing all black. When no one really notices that you've changed that much, sneak off with your mom's make-up box and apply liberal amounts of coal-black eyeliner. Admire your reflection and decide that now you really look like a rock star. You just look too cool to wash all that off and go to bed, still wearing the make-up. When you wake up in the morning, your right eye is swollen up and very sore. You wash the make-up off and go to school. Your teacher sends you to the nurse's office. The nurse thinks you have pinkeye. She calls your dad at work, who then takes you to the doctor. The doctor says your eye is infected from wearing too much make up for too long.

It's a long, uncomfortable trip home and you and your dad don't say much. Eventually your dad asks, "Is it just make-up or do you like girl's clothes, too?"

You scowl at him as fiercely is possible, considering your face is swollen up and kind of crooked. You inform him that you weren't wearing girl make-up, you were wearing rock star make-up, like those guys from that cassette you were listening to. You inform him that you're going to be a rock star very soon, so he'd best treat you nicely now if he wanted any of the money. Your dad says that a lot of thirteen year old boys want to be rock stars, but usually it's best that they work on another career, just in case that doesn't work out. "Besides, you don't really do well with music anyway." He tells you with a laugh. Scowl some more. Decide he definitely doesn't get any of your massive riches.

Your parents won't let you wear makeup to school, so you settle for using Crayola markers that you keep in your locker. You develop a reputation as the school weirdo. No worries, high school is right around the corner and surely they'll understand you much better than those losers in middle school did. Unfortunately, it's the same people you went to middle school with that you're now going to high school with. You and your friend Clyde decide you want to start a band.

He knows how to play the banjo and his little brother can play the tambourine, so you just need to learn how to learn to play a guitar like Jimi Hendrix and you're on your way to fame. You figure that will only take you a week or two, so you go ahead and start designing t-shirt logos. Give your band a really cool name. The three of you argue over what it should be called. Clyde wants to call it Bluegrass Boys. You want to call it the Black Plague of Misery. His little brother wants to call it Fluffy Bunnies. You both ignore him because he's six. You eventually agree to combine the names and end up with the Bluegrass Plague. Clyde's dad says he'll teach you to play the guitar. Six months later, you can play two songs on the bass guitar you worked so hard to mooch off your parents. Ninety-nine dollars out of a discount magazine. At least it's black. Clyde's little brother complains that you are an awful bass player. Clyde tells him to shut up. You tell him to get lost. Your band is now just you and Clyde.

You don't seem to be getting anywhere with your guitar lessons. You hear Clyde's dad ask his son if maybe you're retarded or something. Clyde says he's not sure. He doesn't think so, but he'll ask you when he sees you next. You're frustrated; it seems that once again you're stuck with people who don't see your unique talent. You decide to break up your band with Clyde. He shrugs and points out that the only reason he was in the band was because he felt sorry for you.

You continue to play the two songs you learn from Clyde's dad, but only the bass part. You decide that you'll just have a band where there's just you and the bass guitar. You spend the next three years of high school practicing Sweet Home Alabama and Iron Man. You play them so often that your mom has once again banished you to the back porch. The neighbor's kid is nine now and likes to stare at you through the slats of the fence. Mrs. Rickers comes out and brings her daughter inside and you hear her say, "Stay away from the fence when that weirdo's out there."

No one will hire you to play music, so you get a job at the local convenience store. One night when you're mopping up, the country station is blaring since you can't figure out how to change the station, you hear an interview with the lead singer of the group at the top of the charts. "Now Clyde, how did you decide to start the Bluegrass Boys?" the woman with a heavy southern twang asks. You push the radio off the shelf and stomp on it until it goes silent.

This is a quirky little piece that I wrote back in 2005. I haven't really worked on it much in a long time, but I was revising it and I thought I'd throw it up here for perusal. - KMC