Nashville

In Nashville you can be anything you want. Arrive with only a guitar, grit, and a feelin' -- and you just might make it. An easier option is to sit back in a bar and realize you can claim to be whatever it is you'd like. As a musical mecca and transport hub, Nashville is the gateway to the world, and home to more academies of learning than Ancient Greece. In Nashville, you can always find a new crop of people who are about to learn an awful lot but don't yet, at this precise moment, know a damn thing - making it the perfect place to practice bullshit.

Barroom Bullshit is the most vital skill there is. Not only vital as in "important," but also vital as in "to do with life" -- and that can mean creating any life for yourself that suits the moment. Convincing a crowd of strangers that you're a bomb-disposal expert takes psychology, confidence, acting, body language, and an incredible amount of fun. Trust me on that, and on the free drinks it's earned.

I've been a vet, a physicist, and, on one very memorable night, a deep-sea diver. Tip: unless the bar has a serious flooding problem, no one can disprove that. On another night, I've been an accountant (thanks to an event-crashing at the conference center of my hotel, and if I'd claimed to "account" for the finances of a premier porn production company, well, that just made my stories more interesting). If you're caught, give them an "Aw-shucks-y'got-me" grin and buy them a whiskey, because you've found someone smart enough to be worth talking to. Or, things may take a more drastic turn, as with the time I became a country music star for a night in Nashville.

Sipping whiskey in a District honky-tonk, I started chatting with a fledgling country band, sharing with them my expertise on the "Six Strings of Sadness." (To achieve this, I whipped up an on-the-spot formula for song names, whereby you mention two sad things, connected by a common phrase, e.g. "My dog gone with my woman.")

Everything was going perfectly, as I imparted my wisdom onto the nascent band - that is, until they found that the event they were playing at that night was one performer short and they asked me to fill in for five minutes. I considered admitting that I can only grab the right end of a guitar two tries out of three. But, if you've been paying attention, you'll know I wasn't going to miss the chance. This was it: the ultimate test of the structural strength of sheer bullshit - so why not tag-along?

The event hall was packed with all walks of Nashville life, from students to old cowboys, and the spotlights poured every ounce of adrenaline from their bodies into my one overloading heart, thundering and pumping my limbs with liquid lighting.

I walked on stage.

There is no feeling like it. Now I know why so many actors go completely insane -- this is the greatest feeling in the world and it is utterly unreal. I felt as though I could fly and punch through the concrete ceiling and shout so hard I'd explode and had about five seconds to do something with this before they caught me.

I grabbed the mic and shouted "Woooo!"

They agreed "WOOO!" (So far, so good.)

"Are you ready to kick ass?"

"WOOO!"

"Are you ready for this?!"

The hall exploded. The surge was like being the sun. My first time doing another very famously enjoyable thing hadn't been nearly this good. I basked for a whole two seconds, dropped the mic, backed up, then ran and jumped straight off the stage into the blazing lights of glorious history.

True, to a casual observer this "glorious history" might have looked like shouldering through an incredulous mob and straight out a fire exit, accompanied by the sound of maniacal laughter and the pelting of full-speed feet. But that's every lesson in life right there: we're all heading for the exit. It's what you do on the way that matters.

This story is fictional and does not represent actual people or places.

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