Rock and Roll Years
Today, I celebrate my 16th year of marriage. For me, it is hard to imagine, but it must be near impossible for my wife. I am not the typical guy. I am pretty irresponsible with everything from money to manners. (I’m sure some of you women are rolling your eyes right now and thinking, “Isn’t that all guys?”) The truth is, I’m waaaaay worse.
I’m untrainable. I watch the same movies over and over for their “artistic” value and I can’t keep from commenting on the minutia of how the film was made, who wrote the script, how the actor landed the role and which other actors were passed over. (Can you imagine Raiders of the Lost Ark with Jeff Bridges, Tom Selleck or Bill Murray?) I do the same thing with music. I was watching Pulp Fiction again for the nth time and my wife comes in and calmly says, “Did you forget some of the lines?” She says this with humor, not sarcastically, not complaining at all. She accepts me just as I am. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I am having more of an influence on her than is healthy.
I knew that I would marry her when years ago I brought her with me on a stand-up gig. I told her at the outset, “Listen. You’re fair game just like everybody else in the audience.” She politely agreed to accompany me anyway. My whole bit, improvised, of course, was about the shame I felt dating a white woman. I half expected at the end of the night to be driving home alone, but she never said a word. In fact, she bragged to her friends that I had inserted her into my act. Since then, her wit has grown sharper and we joust verbally on a variety of subjects every day . I’m probably more sensitive than she is.
I’m the way I am because I am a guy, but more so because I’m a guy that thinks he’s an artist, a creative mind, a musician. I have, in fact, been playing guitar for the past four and a half decades and I have played in some bands, made some records, sold a few songs, but like most musicians, without much success. I’ve written a few books, done some acting, some stand-up, tried to sell a script or two and had a few wild brained ideas like printing up t-shirts for sale and producing some concerts just because I don’t want to have a real job. (Uggghhh!)
A few years ago, I boldly announced that I was quitting my real job to go back into music full time, a financial disaster for us, but my wife never squawked about it the whole time. She knew it was something that I wanted to do and she carefully managed the money to keep us solvent until I found something else, a music related gig that would keep me happy and keep us sheltered and fed. When I screwed up our taxes, she handled it all with a calm and professional manner and handles the finances for our only successful music business. As I embark on my next literary adventure, she helps, editing my stories, offering suggestions and helping me submit to magazines.
Musicians never grow up. Or at least they grow up very slowly. We are lost in our glory days, playing for free, enjoying the adulation of the crowd or the feeling of accomplishment when you finally learn that new riff, all the while pretending we are all better than we are. We like to think that ours is a more noble endeavor because we live life on our own terms while relying on wives, girlfriends, family and friends to keep us from starving to death. I can name several guys in middle age who spend half of their time on the road sleeping on couches or camping out at festivals waiting for their turn on stage.
Artists, musicians, whatever you want to call us live our lives in rock & roll years, kind of like dog years, but less noble because we suck the people closest to us into our time warped vortex. My wife and I have been married for sixteen years. That’s like 105 in rock & roll years, and she has remained married to me, looked after me and encouraged me as if I really were talented and had a future and I can’t love her enough for it. Here’s to the next 105 years.
Copyright 2017 by Jose Antonio Ponce