I accepted my aunt's request that I play Pachelbel's "Canon in D" at my cousin's wedding, which is today. It would have helped if I cleared up four months ago which song I was playing in the "Wedding for Guitar" songbook, instead of asking a month ago. It would have helped if I had starting practicing more than two weeks ago. Ditto for having the right guitar to practice on - all I have in DC is my acoustic, but for the sound to carry at this large outdoor wedding, I need my electric and amp, which is here in Oregon. I've been practicing on it for roughly six hours over the past two days, which may not sound like much, but I'm about ready to elope with myself to get out of playing this wedding.
My fingertips are turning ash-colored, as if they were being tortured cinematically. I'm getting guitar-elbow, a condition that results from sitting down with a sparkling-green fake Les Paul and fingerpicking over, and over, and ovvvvveeeeer. My index finger feels out of joint and I can't pop it back in. And my back muscles on the right are strained from lugging this blubberous amp I haven't hauled around since college. I've missed out on two nights of general carousing with my friends here to flop my fingers savagely against a fretboard in this record heatwave in my old room, because I was too naive to just say "no thanks" at Easter.
Today at the rehearsal - which I was reminded of six hours beforehand - everyone was looking at me with these "seriously, he's playing?" eyes. They smiled and shook my hand, but I could tell as I stumbled past them to find a chair, dragged my cord to the outlet at the top of the gravel hill, and fumbled through Pachelbel's Purgatory that they were just as incredulous as I that I was the Official Entertainment. This so-called rehearsal is incredibly vague, so I'm just practicing 50 feet away from the action, as they move around and echoes of liturgy waft up to my hillside perch. There are no mikes on, so I'm clueless as to what's going on. (Greg...Greg...) Greg! I look up and my cousin is yelling, because we're at the point, following the lighting of the Unity Candle, where the pastor says "thank you for that, Greg."
The ad-hoc sound guy is giving me a good-natured hard time. I become aware he's talking to me as I bite my lip and press on, with a rhetorical question that ends "practice, practice, practice." Thanks for reminding me, Font of Wisdom. As soon as it started, the rehearsal is over, and I have no idea what the program is. Auntie tells me I sound good, exaggerating out of pity, and I say I still don't have it down. "Just fake it," she says. Of course!
Hey, that sounds really good! my soon-to-be-Mrs. cousin says as everyone vacates. They thought it was a DJ up there but I said you were playing. Really good! she chirps. If I were blind and grabbed her face, I would probably say "you feel sincere."
Stay tuned - I'll have a followup in all its gory detail after the wedding.
UPDATE 8:46 a.m. Pacific: I woke up and my fingers are delicate blobs of flesh that recoil with pain with every touch. I picked up the guitar and played the first few notes and winced. This is what Eric Clapton meant when he said playing was "muhr-duh on the finguz." Pressing on, I played through a couple times as gently as I could while still fretting (physically and emotionally). Then I made the mistake of lightly touching my hot coffee mug with my fingers, which created fire like in a tough-actin' Tinactin commercial. Even typing this now is painful, but document I must!