You’re front and center and illuminated by warm light. You’re all anyone can see. You’re definitely all I can see. You begin to strum and I’m watching your fingers dance, remembering them or imagining them or both. You clench the frets and I feel pressure building beneath my skirt. I wore it for you.
I crane my neck to find the perfect view but we both know you’re striking from any angle. The girls to my left whisper; they’re smitten. They’re strategizing. I pity them. “Enjoy the show, girls,” I think. “He’ll be picking and plucking me later.” Your hand slides up and down the fingerboard effortlessly. That hand. I know it well. I’ve watched it disappear beneath my shirt.
My stare breaks, sees the bigger picture. You. Your guitar. Wood and strings, words and chords. When you blend these things together, do you get love? Is this love? You. Your guitar. It is love.
What I didn’t understand at 17 is that I’d hit it on the head. Love, that is. Wood and strings, words and chords, you and your guitar. Love. As for me? I’m the girl who paid a five-dollar cover to watch you bask in undeserved adoration.
I was a dumb teenager, boy crazy. I heard a soft note drift from someone’s lips and thought, “honesty.” I heard an opening chord and translated it – “trust.” I saw a broad smile and a guitar and nothing else. “No, I don’t know his last name but just listen to Track 3! This guy gets it.”
There’s something intoxicating about musicians. They’re passionate. They make you want to go home and write poetry until you’re recycling couplets and your pen runs dry. But the guys I dated didn’t want poetry. They wanted me to shed a solitary tear when they played a new song for me, they wanted me to buy a disposable camera and capture them at all the right moments, they wanted me to bring my friends along. Occasionally, they wanted to kiss me – a secondary impulse, of course.
I was a teenage girl and always in close proximity to a stage, stoned and swaying. My hair was long, my body frail. My parents never expected me for dinner. I was the perfect fan. I’d get picked out of the crowd, I’d make sure of it, and the lead singer of the band and I would be inseparable until we weren’t. Until one of us wanted more or wanted less. We’d part ways; I’d find a new band and he’d find a new groupie.
I went to college; I met guys who weren’t in bands. I figured out who I was, and who I wanted to become. Despite those strides, I still couldn’t figure out what I was looking for in a male counterpart. I spoke up when it didn’t count and held my breath when it could’ve made all the difference. I met guys who were right for me and then dated their friend, instead. And yes, on occasion I found myself at a show, sipping a flat Gin and Tonic and thinking, “This one seems different.”
Musicians aren’t all the same, but the guys I’d fall for weren’t content to just be musicians. They wanted to be Gods. They had the looks and the talent; and they wanted the world in return. They expected it. They wanted to be idolized, dreamt about, cried over. One girl could never be enough. I got older and realized that I hadn’t been attracted to their guitars or their lyrics; it was their goddamn egos that roped me in time and time again.
A man with conviction in his abilities is a man I want to be with; a man I want to support. I’ve met enough men to know that they exist. The difference between those men and the boys I used to surround myself with is that men don’t need to objectify or belittle anyone else to prove their worth. There’s nothing sexier than someone who empowers the people around them. After all, the success of others doesn’t devalue your accomplishments. You’re the only one that can do that.
So, guys I haven’t talked to in years who bomb my Facebook inbox with invitations and my phone with mass-texts outlining the who, what, where of your next show, here’s what’s up. I’ve got my own fucking ego. My ego tells me that I deserve a guy who wants to stay up drinking Sparks with me until we can recite each other’s intricacies like the alphabet. Someone whose words are meaningful and not the rough draft of some contrived song. Not someone who occasionally glances down from their platform of superiority and somehow mistakes me, a person, for an accessory. A fan.
Find another fuckin’ groupie.