When I was a child in Buenos Aires, growing up in a house of seven brothers and sisters, I wanted desperately to be different from all my siblings; to be unique among them. Each of them seemed to have a special talent: one was a ballerina; the other an artist; the third was brilliant in languages; etc. Each had a special gift, except for me. I was just “Ernestito,” lost among the heard.
When I was in the cusp of turning 11 years old , it occurred to me that music would be the way for me to shine. I had seen an old movie on TV (probably something with Ingrid Bergman) in which someone played the piano in a lavish Paris apartment, and I thought it was the most elegant thing ever. I would master the keyboard like they did in the movies, and dazzle everyone. For weeks I begged my parents to buy me a large piano as my birthday gift.
The night before my party, Mom told me I would be getting something special the next day. I thought the piano would arrive and my dreams would come true. Instead, the next day mom and dad gave me a guitar, wrapped in newspaper (El Clarín). I was heartbroken, but acted surprised and pleased. They told me that they had also bought me guitar lessons, with some long-haired young man.
At first I hid the guitar under the bed, but slowly I began to admire the beautiful wood and the shapely curves of the guitar. It was masculine and feminine at the same time. I picked at the chords curiously, and amused myself with the quirky sounds I could make. Finally the day of my first guitar lesson came, and I met Eduardo, a handsome twenty-something with stringy black hair, who would be my instructor. Like the guitar, Eduardo was both masculine and feminine. He had long, well kept fingernails, that he used instead of a pick to play his instrument. When he lifted the guitar – my guitar – to his legs and started strumming, it was as if magic was exploding out of the instrument. The music was beautiful, and Eduardo’s singing voice was intoxicating. It was the first time in my life that I had a mystical experience in the presence of art. He opened my eyes.
Now as an adult, I often have that feeling of near-ecstasy when I’m in the presence of beautiful art or magnificent music. I never learned to play the guitar properly, but I learned to appreciate. I’m thankful to my guitar muse, Eduardo, for giving me this and perhaps in this way making me special.
(c) 2021 Ernesto Beckford