Mother dearest’s best friends second cousins father in laws step daughters ex-boyfriend’s father who almost graduated from Harvard in the 60’s once mentioned, “If you wish for your child to get accepted to Harvard, thy shall play an unusual instrument”.
And the next day when I got home, mother dearest introduced me to the banjo. And not just any Banjo, but an ancient mystical Banjo from the time of the Great Cyrus (God Bless His soul)and derived from ancient Zoroastrian traditions.
I looked at it the instrument astonished by its mystical shape and disposition. It looked like a large wooden spoon with strings. Three strings. I wondered how such an instrument could make music. And the mystical instrument was called the Banjo Setar (pronunciation, Seeeee-h tarrrr), not to be mistaken with its Indian cousin, the Banjo- Sitar.
The Banjoe was accompanied by a ancient Banjo Master. During our first encounter, he introduced himself, “Hello, I am Mister Ostad-e-Mohem , great great grandson of the esteemed Ostad-e-Saba, the greatest Banjo Setar player that the world has ever known.”
The man resembled the great Dumbeldore himself, except with a Persian accent.
At this point in the lesson, Mister Ostad began strumming the Banjoe-Setar and producing a noise from himself that sounded like a wailing donkey. Apparently he was singing. Suddenly, all the glass windows in my house started shaking. At the end of his number Mister Ostad said,” If you work hard enough and practice six hours daily, one day you can play Banjo-Setar like me and maybe even sing like me!” I told him I was looking forward to it.
During the second lesson, I finally mustered up the courage to ask Mister Ostad why the Banjo-Setar only had three strings. Mister Ostad was so utterly offended of my ignorance of the Banjo-Setar that he asked that I beg forgiveness from the departed spirits of the Banjo-Setar creators. After I finished, it took him the entire remainder of the lesson to explain the importance of the Banjo-Setars THREE strings; not four, not two, but three.
For the next couple of weeks, directly after swim practice, I had a two hour session with Mister Ostad and after that, school work. As my graders slowly descended, so did my Banjo-Setar skills. And at the end of the third week of Banjo training, Ostad announced that his great grandfather ,Ostad-e-Saba world renounced Banjo-Setar playing genius, traveled all the way from a cemetery in Iran into his dreams last night and told him that my soul was not pure enough to unlock the wonders of the Banjo-Setar. And he quit.
But mother dearest didn’t quit on Harvard, for the next day Mister Ostad was back at our house, and my brother Noble was holding the Banjo-Setar. And with that I’d like to say, Le’chaim to Banjo’s, Santa Monica College and piano lessons; Le’chaim to laughter, have you laughed today?