Guitar Hero II replicates the feeling of playing the guitar in front of a fickle but easily excitable crowd, requiring you to become embarrassingly proficient at punching the big colorful buttons that represent a guitar’s frets while you strum a switch that serves as the strings and pull down the blinds that serve to keep the neighbors from seeing you.
While it’s awfully fun, there’s something about wailing away on that plastic guitar that seems eerily reminiscent of the little plastic Fisher Price lawn mower that I had when I was a kid, the one that went poppity-pop-pop when pushed across the kitchen floor.
“Wook at me, Daddy! I’m mowing the wawn! And shwedding out some ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ by Guns N’ Woses. Wock on, dude.”
But now I can add “Pretty good at playing a pretend guitar” to my resume of useless skills, right under “Can sometimes catch things behind my back” and “Used to know how to play Chinese checkers.” Incidentally, in China, they call that game “Marble Receptacle.”
The saddest thing about being a wannabe fake guitarist is that there’s a very real guitar sitting in my basement, its case acting as more of a sarcophagus. That guitar has seen less sunlight in the past two years than Dracula or Dick Cheney. I swear I’m going to start playing that thing again one of these days, but really, what’s the point of playing the guitar after you’re married? All the motivation is gone. You’ve already got a groupie for life.
My groupie is also quite a talented fake guitarist. This is the first video game she’s ever really enjoyed. Now I’m regularly greeted by riffs from the Allman Brothers and Black Sabbath when I walk into the living room, as Kara rocks back and forth and says things like, “Aw, yeah, who’s the man?”
It’s odd to find her playing video games of her own accord. I’m not sure quite how to react to this behavior. She’d probably feel the same way if I suddenly picked up an interest in, say, painting toenails. We’d certainly have more common experiences to talk about, but would she have to worry that I’d start hogging all the little foam toe separator thingies?
Regardless, it’s too bad kids don’t learn how to play guitar in school. Rocking out is much more useful than fractions. When I was in the fourth grade, I chose to learn the trumpet because it seemed like the coolest choice. I pictured myself playing in a Dixieland band on a riverboat somewhere. But there aren’t that many riverboats in suburban Philadelphia, at least none that I could bike to. And the world just doesn’t need that many bad trumpeters. Ska isn’t even cool anymore, and I never once scored a date because I could play the theme song to Indiana Jones at a volume that would knock books off a shelf.
I should have at least picked the drums. Choosing an instrument is just too big a decision to place with someone who consumes Jell-o through a straw just because it sounds funnier that way.
You can trash a hotel room with Mike Todd online at firstname.lastname@example.org.