When I Rocked

Nine years ago today I retired at the peak of my rock 'n' roll career. Sure, I've had calls to return to the scene (mostly from my mom), but, frankly, my price is too high. When I ask for an all-expenses-paid lunch at Burger King in exchange for sharing a few of my hits, so-called "booking agents" (again, usually my mom) anxiously check their cash coffers, then slump their shoulders in disappointment upon realizing they simply can't afford me.

Which is regrettable. I had a string of memorable performances there in the mid-90s. There was that one time when I played for a capacity crowd of 4 or 5 out on DT field and forgot the words to "The Longest Time". I think that really affected a lot of people.

Then in my ward talent show that year I sang this one Toad the Wet Sprocket song pretty much completely out of key. Critics hailed it as a "creative re-working of a modern-day classic".

During the same show, I accompanied a cute girl from my ward on guitar as she beautifully sang an obscure Roxette song. In a display of random spontaneity, I tried to harmonize with her during the chorus despite the fact that I don't know how. Some might say I ruined the song. Revisionist historians, however, are already declaring that I "provided a brilliant, post-modern backdrop of dissonance to an otherwise tired, clichéd melody."

The early years of my career were also full of acclaimed performances featuring my prodigious talent. My debut came at age 14, when I played "Tears in Heaven" for an audience of tired housewives and lightly dozing octogenarians. Talent scouts (my mom) gushed after the show about my virtuoso guitar skills. When I pressed said talent scout to comment on my singing ability, the scout was silent for a moment before replying, "You play the guitar very well." I was on my way.

But the peak of my career came nine years ago today when I opened for Peter Breinholt. Peter Breinholt is famous. I'm really surprised you haven't heard of him. He won several awards. I think. Maybe. Probably not.

My opening for him was an accident. I had scheduled myself to do a 45-minute set that night at Mama's Cafe, and Pete (we're on a first name basis) just happened to drop in to play a few numbers. He was transfixed by my performance. I saw him look at me several times, usually when my voice broke on a high note.

I played a half-dozen of my greatest self-penned hits. My groupies swooned. There was the one about the psycho chick drinking root beer and writing abnormal poetry. Then there was the bitter ode to the girl that dumped me earlier that year where I sang about dropping her off at the Arizona border to fry with a warm Coke.

I played the birthday song where I worked in references to terminal diseases, Christmas presents, and Catholic mass. I closed my set with a cover of the Violent Femmes' "American Music." This one chick sitting by the edge of the stage got up and started to dance. I think she'd had one too many milkshakes.

After I played the last note, I thought about making my retirement announcement right there. I knew I'd reached the pinnacle of rock stardom; there was nowhere to go but down. But causing two dozen people to break down in tears, wracked by sobs, was not something I felt would be professionally responsible. I kept it quiet.

But as the months rolled by and my absence at all my usual venues (the curb outside Q Hall, the edge of the sand pit on DT field, that one hill down at Helaman Halls) became conspicuous, I think my fans knew it was over. They bravely went on, graduated, and forgot my name together with the fact I ever existed. But at least they can carry the memories of witnessing the shooting star of my rock 'n' roll career.