Both his bowl cut and his belly were quite round. His name was Derek. “Hello.” he said, not at all like a 13 year-old, but more like a door-to-door salesman. He began to state the obvious and describe all the clearly visible things in his hands. He had a noticeable stutter, but my family had just moved in to a house up the hill on Grey Street, where Raulston ended, so I knew him somewhat. It was weird seeing him in my house. It seemed weirder that he walked the whole way up the hill, carrying his bass and amplifier. It was his second lesson with my father. It was clear he was trying to contain his excitement, by the stoic and intentional way he stood very straight, starring at our kitchen that led to the basement door. “Hello” he said as my sister walked though the living room, in the exact same manner in which he had greeted me at the door. “Hey” she replied in surprise and continued on her way.
“Ah-w-w-where’s you dad?” He asked trying desperately to control his stammer, having particular trouble with the “D” in “dad”.
“He’s in the basement…he’s putting new strings on his guitar.” I replied.
“Cool, cool.” He repeated nodding his head in affirmation. Clearly conveying, both, how uncomfortable and excited he was to be at my home for his second bass lesson.
“You need a hand with those?” I asked not really knowing what else to say.
“Oh!” Looking at the items in his hand, as if he were surprised to find them there. “No. No. I’ve got ’em.” Another moment of mutual awkward passed, with us starring at his musical gear.
Finally, out of shear befuddlement, I started walking towards the basement in hopes he’d follow, which he did. He also returned to the upright, stoic stance he originally had. He was all business.
We walked through the kitchen and down to the basement, where my father was sitting alone playing guitar. “Oh–hey dip stick.” He said while never ceasing his playing of ZZ Top’s “La Grange”. The acoustics rang well against the grey brick walls of our basement.
Derek set his gear down directly across from my father’s amplifier and started pulling out his bass and plugging in his chords.
“Do you remember where we were last week?” My father asked still playing La Grange.
“Aah” Derek said taking in a deep breath and turning around to look at my father, “yeah, I do.”
“Great!” My father replied finishing up La Grange. “You remember how to tune that thing?”
“Yes.” Derek said now starring at my fathers Brown SunBurst Fender Telecaster, fixated in some sort of trance. He just stood there, watching my fathers hands. My father “brought it home” and ended the song. Carefully set his guitar on it’s stand and stood up out if his chair. All the while, Derek never taking his eyes off the Fender.
“Okay, I’m gonna go get another cup of coffee. Tune that thing and we’ll get started.”
Editorial Update: no one edit this.
My father walked away, taking his normal giant strides. Derek just continued to stare at the Fender. As soon as my father reached the top of the stairs, Derek approached the guitar on it’s stand. His gob gaped wide open, even more fixated. Without ever looking away, Derek reach down and picked my father’s guitar up and sat down in my his chair. He examined it from end to end. He held it with like my father did, but Derek was left-handed. He had this uncomfortable scowl on his face, like it hurt to hold the instrument that way. He thought, his brow even more furrowed. Then it hit him, you could see in his brow jump, as the thought crossed his mind. He just flipped the guitar over to his left hand and you could see it fit much better. He made the same chord he had just seen my father had play. And then he started…
He started to play exactly what my father had been playing, La Grange by ZZ Top. I stood in the doorway, where I had been standing the whole time stupefied I what I was seeing. He just kept playing. A left-handed kid, who had never played a right-handed guitar before, just picked it up and decided to do it. Before I knew it, I was in some sort of weird trance. What broke me out was my father’s curious “Hmm.. I’ll be..”. I looked over my shoulder and he was standing there not believing what he was seeing either, sipping his coffee. Which, as someone who had been scolded all of my life for touching my father’s guitar, I was now somewhat jealous.
“You never let anyone touch your guitar. Why don’t you let me play it?” I pointed out. My father still sipping his coffee, “Can you play it like that?” He asked. My silence was it’s own answer.
Derek wound down the song and “brought it home” just like my dad had done a few minutes earlier. He looked up and apologized. My father replied. “For what?”.
He took his Fender from Derek and Derek picked up his solid black bass. “Alright, now play it with me…” And they played the song again. Being that it was the third time and I was incredibly jealous, I chose to go watch tv.
An hour later, my father and Derek emerged from the basement with Derek’s gear. By this time, it was dark. So, Derek’s mom had arranged to pick him up after his lesson. She knocked on the door and came in to ask my father how he was doing. My father didn’t answer, he just went and got the check she had given him for the 5 lessons she scheduled and handed it back to her. “Well…I can’t teach him anything, he doesn’t already know. It ain’t right I take this money.” She smiled and excepted the check gratuitously.
That is the legend of Dorok…