The Old Gods Return

Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m just leaving the Sam Ash store on Tyvola. Wow. What an interesting experience a music store is when you’re 41 years old, cut your hair a long time ago and just generally don’t give a shit. I was actually saddened by the would-be rock stars who were sitting around, bashing away on various guitars and glancing around to see if anyone was noticing.
I think a good example of my interaction with the general culture in there could best be summed up by my experience in the bass room. When I went in, a man was sitting on a stool playing a bass. Long, blonde hair, pulled back into a pony-tail. Arms covered in tattoos. He looked at me and kinda smiled to himself. I figured since I was just kinda looking around, he pegged me as a gawker and not someone who knew what he was looking at. No problem. I wasn’t there looking to be part of any clique anyway. Only one bass caught my eye, and that one only because I thought it was an Alembic. Then I realized it was an Ibanez.
I said “Damn, that looks like an Alembic. The logo’s even similar.”
He said “Won’t find an Alembic in here,” and pointed to the Warwick bass he was holding. “This is the closest thing to it here.” I nodded and started to wander out, when Dude said “Wanna play it?”
I didn’t, really. Didn’t care. I have an Alembic at home. Why would I give a fuck about a Warwick? But there was something about the way he said it. And, well, that smirk on his face.
“Yeah,” I told him. “I’ll play it.”
And I did, too. The old gawker that Dude probably thought would get a thrill out of holding a real bass guitar … he played it. In fact, he played the fuck out of it. Hell, I even pulled out the four string tapping thing I used to exercise with. And I kinda liked that while I was playing Dude was gawking at me like he’d swallowed his tongue.
I just grinned and told him “This plays nice, but it’s no Alembic.”
He took it back, and said “Damn, dude. Show me that tapping thing.”
Hehe. I figure at that point certain perceptions were proven wrong. I showed Dude the basic idea behind the “tapping thing”. When I left he was practicing it.
I walked on out and headed toward the counter to get my strings (which is why I came). Along the way one of the budding rock stars smirked at me, and kept banging out Pantera riffs on the guitar he was abusing. At the string counter the guy was surprised when I rattled off five sets that I wanted and in what gauges. When I got up to the front desk where they check your merchandise against your receipt, the astute security chica asked me if I meant to get one long and one short scale set of bass strings. I hadn’t. She told me I could go switch them. But I looked over the place. At all the hair. All the tattoos. All the random smirking.
I shook my head. “Nah,” I told her. “I’ve seen enough.”

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