She was hanging around a dingy pawnshop when I first saw her. I’m a happily married man, but something told me I simply had to have her.      
She was a stringy blonde who was obviously past her prime. But, she had a long, elegant neck and a stunning hourglass figure. I somehow knew we could make beautiful music together.      
I asked the guy how much. Even though he tossed out a ridiculously low price, I made a counteroffer. We soon had a deal.      
I snuck her home and hid her away from my wife in the spare bedroom. Whenever I could, I would steal away to spend time with her.      
I finally couldn’t stand all the sneaky subterfuge. One evening as my wife watched TV, I trotted her out for my spouse’s perusal and approval.      
“A guitar?” she asked archly. “Why did you buy a guitar? You don’t know the first thing about music.”
That is totally correct. I can’t tell a treble clef from a tuning fork.
“Maybe I’m someone who can learn to play by osmosis,” I sniffed. “Maybe I’m an idiot savant.”
“You’re right about the idiot part,” she said.     
Music that is read and played has always been a foreign language to me. The first thing our grade school music teacher, Miss Widmer, taught us was all that “do, re, mi” business. Then, she tried to tell us those same sounds were also an alphabet soup of notes. It was as if she were teaching us how to speak in Klingon and write in Chinese.      
I became so enamored of the idea of making music that I joined our junior high school band. I chose percussion, mainly because percussionists get to whack things. It’s a drumbeat not a drum tickle.      
Plus, drummers didn’t have to learn the scales. We barely had to differentiate between notes. Is that a whole note? Whack the drum. Is that an eighth? Whack the drum.
All the drum notes were on the same line of the scale. It was beautiful in its simplicity: Whack, rest, repeat.      
I would pay a price for my sloth. When the time came for our homecoming parade, I was assigned to carry the bass drum. Our band teacher said it was because of my superior sense of rhythm, but I think he was punishing me for my laziness.      
I was harnessed to a bass drum the size and weight of a rear tractor tire and marched the infernal thing all 200 miles of the parade route. It took three days for my spine to return to its normal curvature.      
That’s when I lost my desire to learn music. After all, my goal was to be a dairy farmer. The only musical skill I needed was the ability to whistle for the dog.      
So, I was a total musical ignoramus when I purchased that old guitar. But my thought process hadn’t changed since junior high. I don’t want to learn music; I just want to play it.      
The internet has made such things possible. Sadly, you can’t go to YouTube and download the ability to strum “Black Magic Woman.” Were such a thing possible I would have been first in line.
But, there are numerous videos that show how to play the guitar without having to learn how to read music.     
The first thing I wanted to learn was the opening bars of “Smoke on the Water.” The instructional videos were a revelation. Did you know that those 12 notes are mostly repeats and that many of them are played on open strings? Even a complete musical dunderhead like me can learn that.    
Guitar Hero has long been a popular video game. Having played both Guitar Hero and a real guitar, I can state conclusively that Guitar Hero has little to do with music. Playing Guitar Hero and thinking you’ll become a rock star is like learning to ride a bicycle and thinking you’ll become a neurosurgeon.      
And a guitar is much better for hitchhiking. Stand at the roadside with a guitar and people may think, “Let’s give that traveling troubadour a ride and maybe he’ll serenade us with some jaunty tunes.”      
Try to hitchhike while clutching your Guitar Hero game and people may think, “What sort of loser can’t go anywhere without his Xbox console?”      
I’d best get back to my do-it-yourself guitar lessons. It wouldn’t be bad, but my pupil is a knobby-knuckled, fumble-fingered idiot.      
But let me know if you need someone to kick off a major rock concert by playing the opening notes of “Smoke on the Water.” I might know a guy who can help with that.   
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry works full time for Dairy Star as a staff writer and ad salesman. Feel free to email him at