From Our Readers
October 08, 2015 7:52 am

When I met my future husband, I had no idea he had this, ahem, hobby of air guitar. I was very skeptical of this newfangled pastime and I had a lot of questions. Were there actual guitars? No. Do people sing? Well, they lip sync sometimes. How are they rated? Technical merit, stage presence, and, of course, “airness”. All I could do was laugh at the preposterous idea. This could not be real! Real people pretending to play the guitar? Why didn’t they just play an actual guitar? Little did I know that attending air guitar shows would one day change my life.

Joe and I met in an improv class and it took a year before I even agreed to go on a date with him. Fast forward three months into our relationship, and he asked me to attend his upcoming air guitar competition. I thought that I was going to make fun of it to no end. That these were strange people, doing strange things. But I went anyway to support my boyfriend and it was, to say the least, an experience. There was comedy, flare, costumes, gags, magic tricks, and rock n’ roll.

It wasn’t until the first air guitarist stepped on stage that I truly understood the skill and craft that the sport requires. I watched Joe’s first competition with a brewing excitement. To see him on stage shredding it like a rock star in his spandex and fake mohawk made me swoon. I thought it would be the lamest thing I had ever seen, but I was loving every minute of it. I was in complete awe, not only of Joe, but of the air guitar community as a whole. They welcomed me as a member of their tribe, always greeting us with joy and genuine enthusiasm. I couldn’t believe the support they gave this hobby and anything else these air guitarists did. It was like a built in brother/sisterhood that I found extremely endearing in a city that has far too long been labeled cold and lonely.

I found out that in air guitar you tend to root more for the underdog and we were definitely the underdogs of relationships. It’s odd to meet someone in an improv class and have it actually work out. Let alone an improv class in New York City. Now, I have attended every competition at the Bowery Ballroom for the last three years (plus countless qualifying shows and even “Aireoke”- air guitar karaoke. Don’t ask.) and it feels like it has been part of our relationship since the beginning. However, this last show was to be the one that would change my life.

When my boyfriend signaled for me to go up on stage, I, of course, shook my head no. Not knowing what was about to happen, one of the air guitarists performing pulled me up to join them and I proceeded to do what was expected…air guitar on stage, right? Well, yes and no. When Joe dropped to one knee, I was ripping my best air guitar cord until I noticed his unbuttoned shirt, revealing Marry Me written in permanent marker on his chest. He pulled out an air ring box with a presumed air ring inside and I laughed, thinking I was part of one of his comedy acts. Then he withdrew a real ring from his pocket and the delicate loop of sapphire and diamonds left me speechless. Before I knew it, all our fellow air guitarists had lifted us onto their shoulders to celebrate and we cemented ourselves forever in air guitar rock history as the first “air proposal”.

In my many air guitar competition attendances, I found the competitors’ passion for the sport infectious and their friendship irreplaceable. I believe this group of men and women are that rare community that accepts you no matter who you are or what you do. All they want to do is rock out in the best way possible and I feel blessed to have had the chance to experience it. At first, I viewed air guitar as a joke, a laughable comedic show. Then, I found that I was truly floored by the authenticity of this man, his proposal, and even air guitar. As for me and my fiancé (still getting used to the sound of that), it was a perfectly fitting proposal for a perfectly unusual relationship. And I have the video to prove it!

Michelle Petterson is a writer-performer living in Brooklyn. She’s obsessed with making hummus and has a very loud laugh. You can see her in a movie out on Amazon now. She sometimes makes sketch and other videos Here. Follow her on Twitter @MishPetterson and Instagram @mishpetterson see what other weird stuff she is up to. 

[Image via author/Facebook]

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