When choosing a career path, I really think I should have gone with being someone who is paid money to rock.
I received a small organ when I was a child, the kind you turned on and it sounded like it was breathing.
My sister put on her leotard and we had a concert.
To get the neighborhood children to come to the gig, I had to give them some of my toys.
It was not long before I realized the organ was limiting my creativity and I took up the guitar.
Many of the chords proved really difficult, like those weird bar chords with names like F#/Bm6, the ones where you are supposed to lay your whole body on the neck of the guitar and play it by uvulating.
Before frustration could overrun me and send me into the arms of the piccolo or jaw harp, I discovered the magic chord: E minor.
You only need two fingers.
And it sounds like sadness and brooding.
E minor was the new soundtrack of my life.
Parents making life so hard? E minor.
School so boring you could scream? E minor.
Girl so pretty but not like you? E minor.
DunDunDun, E minor.
I saw now that I was becoming a person who rocks, but needed accompaniment.
My band consisted of a guy with a disortion pedal and a hatred of healthy hearing, and a girl with a drum set who played Wipeout for her marching band and spent most of the time telling us about how much she liked black guys, because black guys were so funny, and black guys were so laid back, and black guys were so sexy.
We did not really have any songs, it was more like he played loud, she pounded the skins occasionally and talked to black guys on the phone, and I made up lyrics while strumming E minor.
Somewhere is a cassette tape of our practices and I am certain it would musically destroy you and your family if you heard it.
A friend of ours had a barn he converted into a "hang-out", and he regularly had bands play there.
This was our chance.
On the night of the big show, the girl decided she was bored and did not want to play, and four other guitarists came to jam along.
They all had distortion pedals too.
One actually talented person set up a drum kit.
No one knew the same songs, or really any songs, and I just made up things as I went along.
During a brief pause in all the rock 'n' roll, I could hear someone screaming for us to please stop.
Some of the guitarists got mad at some of the other guitarists, but I think it was just because there was not enough room for all those guitar necks to swing dramatically around and still leave space for the one fan who was moshing by himself.
The sight of a 14-year-old skater kid repeatedly moshing himself like that made me sad and uncomfortable, and I began to retreat into that jaded place so many rock stars find themselves in, when they have seen too much of the road, done too many of the drugs, and French kissed with too many of the groupies.
My decision was made for me though, when my guitarist decided he could actually sing and write better songs than me, and he and the little drummer girl soldiered on without their frontman.
I laid E minor down, certain to never pick it up again.
But Fate and the Lords of Rock with me had not finished.
Many years later, a friend of mine had a giant party to celebrate his graduation from college.
His mass of relatives from all over the country were there, as well as many friends, classmates, and well-wishers.
A band had played earlier in the night, leaving their equipment set up.
Spirits were soaring as high as alcohol would allow, and at one point the graduate's father asked if anyone knew any Bob Dylan songs.
I staggered drunkenly to the microphone, slung a guitar over my shoulder, and began to apply full body bar chords to the strings while audibly trying to recall the first line of "Lay, Lady, Lay".
Not sure how familiar you are with Bob Dylan's catalogue of music, but when someone at a rocking high energy party of young and old people dancing together and getting smashed asks for a Dylan song, I cannot, under any circumstance, imagine they had "Lay, Lady Lay" in mind.
The song does not say good times, it does not say fun party, it does not say graduation.
It says come have sad, introspective sex with a guy wearing dirty clothes in his big brass bed. He is pretty tired from working all day picking beans or something and really what he wants right now is to have some sex and then fall asleep.
From what I recall of the looks on people's faces, I would say the overall sentiment was, "God is pooping on us."
My friend's father approached me tentatively, wanting me to please stop but not wanting to say it.
A small crowd of little children stood near by as I said loudly into the microphone, "Sorry, Mr.D, I'm too fucked up to play." Oh God in heaven I might have even begun to cry a little.
He patted my back, his other hand prying the microphone from me.
"It's okay," he said, his face a mix of terrific pity and excruciating awkwardness, which is one of the worst facial expressions a human being has ever produced, "that song might not have been the best choice anyways."
It wasn't, I screamed inside, it was a terrible choice, a terrifyingly beautiful choice dammit, and I ran from the party and hid myself in the woods.
I grew older, wiser, my finger tips lost their guitar calluses and became baby soft again.
My job at a group home for developmentally disabled young men consumed much of my time, and we were planning our Christmas play.
I had just fit one of my Fetal Alcohol actors with his Superman suit, only to step back and see with dismay that the tightness of the pants ineffectively hid his thunder.
Christmas could not be allowed to be ruined by a pornographic Superman, and I ordered all the players off the stage in frustration.
There I was, alone, stage lights upon me, a microphone nearby, and someone, some angel, had left an acoustic guitar in a corner.
I was fifteen again, I had my hair and my earrings back, I no longer needed my bra or my tummy cinch.
My audience was a group of developmentally disabled boys milling about, some humming and rocking, one digging deeply into the back of his diaper, but they were my audience.
I had them.
They were my slaves, and I was their god, their god of rock.
I picked up the guitar, approached the mic, and hit that first E minor.
As one, they looked up to the stage, their eyes wide, never having witnessed such beauty, such mystery.
What tune shall the Piper pipe at the Gates of God?
What melody cut from lightning, forged from the fires of inner earth?
All the world hesitated to breath.
I opened my mouth to sing.
"If....you're...happy and you know it, clap your hands!" clap-clap
"If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!" clap-clap
My fans erupted in cheers.
They clapped, they laughed, they begged for more, and at last I felt the impossible adrenaline of the performance explode within me.
The moment in life when all the pieces fall together and you see exactly who you are and what your are meant to do had come.
Ask me then.
Ask me who I am, but then jump back ten feet when the answer singes your face.
Who am I??
I AM GWEENBRICK, AND I ROCK THE WORLD OF SPECIAL NEEDS.