Guitars and cauterwauling men

It is a truth universally acknowledged that as people age and lose their youthful looks they must develop new qualities to ensure their attractiveness to the opposite sex.

Women and men both diet and stay active. And that works for some. Others – especially men --rely on their bank accounts. Now, it is true that having a sizable bank account will make you more desirable, it is also true it seems to be the key ingredient for short marriages and multiple divorces.

Plus, when you go from a whole lot of money to half of half of half in three or four divorces, it does cut into the beer money after a while.

For us mountain men, we don’t rely on our bank accounts but on other qualities that the opposite sex seems to find attractive in us. Things like providing meat for the table by fishing and hunting. Of course, we don’t factor in the costs of what it takes to hunt and fish as that would take all the fun out of it.

And, woe to the woman who mentions that we should account for it. She should, instead, look on the bright side and realize that if all that mythical money were in the bank, we would long-ago traded her for a younger model, have lost it all in subsequent divorces, and our children would have become street urchins. Somehow women just don't keep things in proper perspective.

But, back to being a mountain man and courting a lady. Now, hunting and fishing are grand, but, it has come to my attention, showing a soft side really makes the ladies swoon. This is hard won wisdom, so listen carefully, my friend.

There is nothing that turns a woman's heart like a man singing to her. Learn a few John Denver songs and throw in John Mellencamp's “Hurts So Good,” and you have her heart forever. I was doing very well when South Fork had the karaoke nights but alas that disappeared taking with it my path to stardom and paparazzi fame and fortune or at least impressing the local women.

Without a mobile karaoke machine, I decided that I should learn to play the guitar. This Christmas, after listening to me whine around about that, my kids surprised me with a guitar. And, ta-da, a star was born – at least in my mind.

I brought the guitar home and made a special place for it on the wall. Since I could already play the bass guitar and read music, I was certain that playing would be easy. Someone, though, (and we won't mention any names - Paula, er I mean Trixie) said “You have to practice to learn to play.”

Now Trixie, who is an accomplished pianist, just doesn't understand the “osmosis” or “think” method of learning a new skill. In that method, you sit in your recliner, look at the guitar and every so often think about playing.

I saw that on The Music Man Musical and it worked for them. A group of small town boys were suddenly transformed into 76 trombones and 110 cornets. Now that's some kind of osmosis.

Finally, I got on YouTube and found some ideas for playing three to four chords. A tool called a capo fixes the key changes and I recall the swordsman Zorro had something like that, too, but in black. Or was that a cape? Regardless, he had the women swooning also, didn't he?

Quickly I realized that by knowing a few chords, I can now do a great eulogy at a funeral or take up an offering at church strumming along slowly while talking in a shaky voice, which I am practicing, too. These are things I am now available for on a fee basis. After all, the Bible says. “A workman is worthy of his hire.”

So now here I sit most evenings, singing and playing my favorite tunes while Trixie swoons, mesmerized in the background. Her eyes glaze over, her head tips to one side and she gets a far-away look in her eyes. Some would say it’s the night talking but I know that it's the gentle caressing melodic notes emanating from my soul. Writing the sentence above should tell you, the reader, what tremendous cultural good has come to me from learning to play the guitar.

The truth is that learning to play has opened up new possibilities for me. In a few weeks, you’ll find me strumming and humming on Susan's back porch, campfires in the mountains and long slow evenings under the stars at the Aspen Ridge RV park. Trixie’s mom says she just “dying to hear” me sing, or something like that.

Apparently creativity is good for the soul and good for the social calendar. Don’t be afraid to pick up your own guitar and start strumming, it’ll release the inner artist in you!

If you hear someone caterwauling and professing his undying love to his sweetheart, know it’s just Ol’ Dutch trying to add a few years to his experiences with Trixie. I have her fooled for now so please don't tell her about my plans. Here's to a season of pickin’ and grinnin’.