I grew up in the late 80s, and through my high school years I made friends with one of the most popular guys in high school. His name was Danny Stevenson.
He was a rock star.
Quite literally. He was kind of superhuman. He was tall, thin, with long blonde hair (which the girls loved). Think Poison or whatever other kind of hair band. Oh, and he was the drummer for his band. A great drummer.
I was a drummer too, but nowhere near as good as Danny was.
Most important, though, he was enormously kind. I was the awkward kid: part geek, part metal guy, without a girlfriend, who didn’t do drugs, and played role-playing games. And he was super cool to me. We always talked about music and various other topics.
Plus he was smart. We once had a competition to come up with the most synonyms for “walk”. I came in second; he came in first. I had like 15, and he beat me by like 8.
Plus, he was always saying insightful stuff when we’d talk about music or whatever. One time we were talking about how fast certain drummers were with double bass, and he was like,
I was like, <sploosh>.
Anyway, I looked up to him as a mentor in many different ways. He had girls, he played drums well, and he was just super laid back and nice.
One day, he invited me over with a bunch of his bandmates (and their women) to watch his band rehearse. I stayed in the garage with them for a bit, but then had to leave because it was getting annoyingly loud.
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He came out after a few minutes and asked me if I wanted to watch some drumming tutorial tapes, and I was thrilled. He put on a few hair band drummers, and I sat there watching while he went back to practice.
And that’s when it happened.
This one drummer guy is giving his smug little tutorial, and he says,
My world kind imploded for a few minutes. It hit me like the last part of Catcher in the Rye, actually. As if a deep life lesson had been taught—one that could never be unlearned—in just a few words.
He was just mimicking others.
Him. Danny…was just some guy.
So what did I learn that day?
I learned that when others appear to be perfect they may simply be posturing like I do. I learned that even those I admire are vulnerable and flawed and weak—just like me. I learned that there are no heroes, just people.