This afternoon, my family and I stopped at Guitar Center. My dad went to look at a guitar he wanted. My brother picked up the Fender Stratocaster he’s been coveting and hooked it to an amp. I was practicing “Man Who Sold the World” when my mom came up to me. “Let’s go check out the drums,” she said, her eyes shining.
We walked into the drum section and my mom requested drum sticks. A cute guy close to my age was checking out a kit. He handed his sticks to my mom as she sat on the drum throne. “Do you play?” he asked her. “Oh no, I don’t,” she said. “But my daughter does! She’s a drummer!” “Oh yeah?” the guy said, looking at me as I thought, great. “Yeah, I’ve been playing for a year or so,” I said shyly. “But I’m not really very good.” “Here, why don’t you show us how you play?” he asked, handing me another pair of sticks. “Oh no,” I said hurriedly, “that’s okay.” “No, go ahead,” the guy said. A Guitar Center employee chimed in, “Yeah! Give it a try!”
Thanks Mom, I thought as I sat on the drum throne. This was rapidly becoming my worst nightmare. I am very insecure about my playing. Maybe if I practiced more than once a week, I’d feel more confident about my playing, but that’s a whole other story. Plus, drumming is not a female-oriented instrument. (What prominent female drummer do women have to look up to? Don’t say Meg White. That woman can’t even keep rhythm). I feel like guys judge drum female drummers more, even though I may be unfairly making that assumption.
Besides, I don’t like playing in front of people, and I don’t like being the center of attention. Insecure musician, dislike playing in front of people, not wanting to be the center of attention – it’s not the ideal trifecta you want for a successful public performance. I’ve only played in front of people once, at Tap’s birthday party back in February, and that actually went well. But I can’t say I was exactly sober for that performance. Four vodka and cokes take a person from near hyperventilation at the thought of playing in front of a crowd to, “THIS IS NOT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN. IF THEY DON’T LIKE IT, THEY CAN SUCK IT.”
As I sat on the throne in limbo, I considered what I could play. Busting out a Neil Pert fill would be awesome but again, that would require me to practice more than every once in awhile to perfect. I could play “Everlong,” but I hadn’t mastered that song and I very easily could mess up and embarrass myself. I had to play something that would sound awesome and would enable me to hide the fact that I really am not a versatile drummer. I decided on “Breed,” the reliable standby. Any real drummer would know how easy that song is to play, but if I cranked up the volume to Dave Grohl level, it would at least sound good.
That’s exactly what I did. I skipped the drum roll at the beginning but played a verse and chorus at full volume, adding in a drum roll for the fill. To my horror, as I continued playing, people started crowding in to watch me, including another Guitar Center employee. My brother told me later that he could hear me play from across the store (he says I sounded good, though, and I trust his judgment).
I would like to end this story by saying at the end, I stood up from the drum throne, shook my hair sexily, looked at the guy, and said something like, “Your turn” with a charming smile on my face. But instead, I sat on the throne with an embarrassed look on my face while my mom was complimenting me. She kept egging me to play some more, but I felt like I couldn’t play anything that would sound better than I just played, and gave up after an aborted half-hearted attempt at “Everlong.”
When we got home, she said, “You played so well! You were all over that kit!” “Not really,” I replied. “That song is pretty easy.” “You just need to be more confident about the way you play,” she said.
All I need to do is practice more so that the next time a cute guy dares me to play at a Guitar Center, I can bust out an amazing fill. And instead of being embarrassed and unsure of myself, my attitude will be all, “YEAH, THIS IS HOW I PLAY, BITCHES.”
At least I impressed my mom. I guess that’s something.