Craig J. Hansen

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Milk Carton

“So, how long have you been playing that thing?”

“I don’t know. Since I was a kid.”

“Well, you’re pretty good.” The man who says this looms over the guitar player, looks like a biker. He’s big, leather jacketed, bandanna topped, bearded, tattooed, heavy booted, decorated with patches and pins.

The biker points at the guitar.  “Nice axe. Keep your eyes on it, or someone is gonna rip it off. This is a weird crowd.”

“Really?” the guitar player says.

“Yeah,” the biker says.  “You can’t trust these AA types, especially the ones wearing suits.”

“Okay,” the guitar player says.  “Does that include you?”

“No, I live by a code. But here’s the thing. You’re a pretty good guitar player, but you look like a kid on a milk carton.”

“Is that bad?” the guitar player asks.

“Hell yeah it is. You gotta look the part. Look at me. This says outlaw, not poser. Not a guy who puts on leathers for a Sunday ride and then goes back to being a dentist. You, you look like a lost kid. It’s not badass. You’re gonna to attract the wrong kind of people, the wrong kind of women. I’m just saying.”

“Thanks,” the guitar player says. “I’ll work on that.”

“You do that, milk carton, and you might amount to something someday.”

“My name is Todd,” the guitar player says.

“Your name is milk carton. Anytime you play something good, I’m gonna yell milk carton!” the biker says.

“That would be great,” the guitar players says.

“So,” the biker says, “you got an alcohol problem?”

“No,” the guitar player says. “A couple of guys in the band, they’re in AA, so we’re playing your Christmas party.”

“If you got a problem, you got to admit it.”

“I don’t have a problem, and I’m playing this show for free,” the guitar player says.

“That is so milk carton,” the biker says.

“We’re going to start playing again,” the guitar player says, “and I have to get back to the guys.”

The biker nods.  “Okay, milk carton, you go back and play your guitar. But the first step to solving a problem is to admit you got a problem. And you’ve got a lot of problems. You’ve got to man up.”

“I’ll work on that,” the guitar player says.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes, milk carton.”  The biker shakes his head and walks away.