Be The Air Guitarist.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 4.824% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I learned a vital lesson about life when I went to the Air Guitar tryouts, and watched pudgy men blaze out solos on imaginary guitars.
Now, Air Guitaring is a serious business, as the world championships are a highly prestigious event. There are camps you can go to that will improve your technique, prevent the “wobbly-neck” syndrome common among amateur air-guitar-wranglers. And of course, there are the various schools of air guitar approaches
…but mostly, it’s about being willing to flail about like a complete idiot in front of large crowds.
Now, the air-guitar tryouts had some impressive stunts – backflips, magician’s fire, surprise confetti – but the best thing about it was the lineup of former air guitar champions who graded and critiqued everyone’s performance.
And after one particularly enthusiastic-but-technique-free attempt, one of the judges said what is perhaps the most interesting thing I’d ever heard:
“As world-famous air guitar heros, one of the questions we get asked all the time is, ‘Do you get groupies, playing imaginary guitar?’ And I am ashamed to admit this, but…
“Yes. All the time. Tons of them.
“As it turns out, if you do something with all your heart before a crowd full of people, they will react to that thing, no matter what it is.”
This is, to a large extent, the driving factor behind my whole blogging career. Who the fuck wants to hear about a pudgy neurotic from Cleveland? But I’m unashamed in what I do, and I put a full-throated passion into writing about such ludicrous topics as, say, playing air guitar – and so people react to that.
Which is why it drives me nuts when I keep hearing that “women like bad boys” over and over again. And not just because it assumes women are some homogenous compound, where one woman can be profitably replaced by any other woman because they all tumbled out of the same mold down at The Woman Factory, where women have been identically manufactured since the Neolithic era.
Now, some women do like bad boys, because some segment of women are guaranteed to like almost anything. But I suspect what most women are drawn to is what people are drawn to:
Passion.
And for all the talk about bad boys being a Venus flytrap for women, I’ve seen dudes who are super-passionate about the stupidest things manage to date, and date well (as long as they were interested in dating well, which – because men are not homogenous either – some of them were not). I’ve seen dudes super into Magic: the Gathering – one of the nerdiest fucking games in existence – manage to date with wild success, simply because they loved what they loved unapologetically, and people liked being around that.
Because folks are hardly ever passionate about one thing. I find that people with passions are so brimming over with enthusiasm that they’re not just into hacking, they’re into lockpicking too, and fencing on the side. That firebrand liberal activist isn’t just into getting her candidate elected, she’s into woodworking and going to Burning Man and learning fire poi.
Yet passion is a sadly lacking quality. Nice guys don’t have it: they’re too eager to get along with people, and passion involves occasionally coming into conflict.
Passion involves not just doing the thing, but being so into the thing that you become an advocate for it, thundering “WHAT? YOU’VE NEVER SEEN ‘THE ROOM’? OH MY GOD, DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH FUN YOU COULD BE HAVING RIGHT NOW?” and then hauling ’em off elsewhere.
And I think what women – what people – want is not someone who shrugs and goes, “That’s all right, I guess,” but someone to swoop into their life like The Doctor and cry, “ADVENTURES ARE AHOY!” and take you out somewhere to try to share all of their zest for life with you. (And, in turn, to find the new things to get passionate about, which they can often find through you.)
Bad boys want things, and aren’t afraid to ask for it. But so are good boys, and bad women, and good women. The passion’s the piece that locks all of them together.
And a lot of folks aren’t passionate because they’re afraid that if they did really go for this thing they want with all their heart, people would think they were foolish. And some people will. Because people are not a homogenous entity, either. Someone’s going to think you’re foolish no matter what you do, and you can’t escape that.
But if something as inherently silly as air guitarists can have women longing for their loins, then whatever you do with fearless passion will also acquire fans. You just have to have that bravery to do it, loudly, unapologetically, and with all the mistakes you’ll make when you’re doing something at the edge of your abilities.
Maybe you don’t have the talent to play the guitar. But still – you could be the air guitarist.
Be the air guitarist.
People will follow.

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