So. At this point in my life, it looks like I’m probably not going to be an Olympic athlete, or a neurosurgeon, or an anthropologist, or a DJ, or a fluent speaker of another language, or a Voodoo priestess. In theory these things are still possible, I suppose, but realistically, they are remote.
Most days, the fact that by now I’ve closed a bunch of doors to walk through others doesn’t bother me much. But lately, I’ve been mourning my alternative lives, particularly that of guitar prodigy – like 27-year-old Orianthi Panagaris, the Greek Australian badass Michael Jackson picked to play his “This Is It” tour. (Here’s what Carlos Santana says about this chick: “It’s not cute any more. It’s seriously ass-whupping. If I was going to pass the baton to somebody, she would be my first choice.” Of course, she’s hot, too.) I am peeved that I did not have the 27 this girl is having. You must go right now to YouTube and check her out.
Jeremy sparked this latest Walter Mitty foray. Charming Jeremy of the soulful brown eyes and toothy smile, who started his musical career on saxophone before moving to guitar and did not know about Orianthi until a week ago. He was the teacher for my younger son’s rock band camp, and on the last day while waiting for the kids’ performance to begin (“Smoke on the Water,” “Seven Nation Army,” etc.) we chatted for a while. I reveled in the opportunity to enlighten him about my heroine, as well as to confess my secret wish to be a rock star. He looked at me thoughtfully.
“Well, you know,” he told me, “you can take guitar here. I’ve taught classes to women in their fifties, and they’ve done really well.”
Just for the record, the minute I cross the threshold of 50 I will glory in the gifts of that age. But I am not there yet – no, no, no, dear Jeremy! — and it was a tad challenging to see myself through his eyes as an aging, wannabe rock mama, clutching for any last remnants of cool before the eyesight goes.
Look, the forties are great, chock full as they are with painful self-awareness and intimations of mortality. But it’s bittersweet, watching Orianthi strut the stage, her fingers flying up and down the frets, because even if it was ever a possibility (!), that version of myself — that kind of 27 — is out of reach.