As I rode down the escalator to the subway system a month ago I heard sounds that were similar to fingernails being dragged across a blackboard. It was a noise so bad my teeth were vibrating and as I got closer I found out that one man was creating this noise all by himself.
There by the side of the wall stood a man playing the violin very badly, to put it mildly. As he began to adjust the strings before playing another piece of noise I dropped a dollar in his violin case and told him I found him quite interesting and shook his hand. He told me that his name was Melbourne Mordacious and he was the son of Franz Lehar. I had to chuckle to myself as I actually knew descendants of Lehar but did not mention it.
I used to admire a couple of kids that I went to school with who I called the Lativian twins. Peter and Marianne Terauds were everything I thought I wanted to be. They excelled in sports, school and popularity, which was everything I did not. One night my father asked me if I wanted to go along to an electrical job he had at the Lehar house. The Lehar’s lived across the highway from Peter and Marianne and I thought if I went along I might get a glimpse of the dynamic duo. That night I did not see Peter and Marianne but I did make friends with Elizabeth Lehar.
Elizabeth was the same age as me and had a great smile and two long blonde braids like Heidi. We quickly became fast friends even though we were very different. A few months later I was invited to her birthday party and I was so overwhelmed by their musical history I wrote a composition about it. My teacher some how enjoyed those six sentences so much she sent it to the school annual and it was published.
I wrote about how talented their family was and that we enjoyed delicious Hungarian chocolate cake. Even though some of my memory is gone I can still see the black shiny grand piano in the living room. Her father, looking much like a David Niven type in a black suit and bow tie asked me to play the piano. I sat down and played Fuer Elsie on their grand piano and I imagine I sounded much like Melbourne Mordacius.
I looked at Melbourne’s scratched red violin and asked him what he was going to play next. He scratched his head and said he wasn’t sure but did agree I could take a picture as long as I did not look at his music. That was top secret he said quite firmly. Melbourne told me he was originally from Little Rock Arkansas and had been "called" to San Francisco in 2004. Within three days he claimed he became famous all over the city and had a front page article about him in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Melbourne tipped his bow across the strings and said,
“Lady, I am going to play The Merry Widow’s Waltz in honour of my late father.”
And just as Elizabeth’s father had stood there and listened to my horrible rendition of a classic, I too stood there and listened to something that was slightly worse than awful. And with that three people walked by and yelled in unison,
“What the heck is that noise? Did someone die?”
I had to agree as I threw another dollar in his violin case. There was no way that Melbourne Mordacius had received any genes from his alleged father Franz Lehar. Nor did I get any musical talent from my late mother, who was an amazing pianist. Sometimes you just have to work with what you have and pray for the best. Even if it sounds like hell!
Happy Father's Day to all those Dads that are real or imaginary.
Text : Linda Seccaspina 2012
Images: Linda Secaspina 2012
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