Thursday, December 1, 2016

Must You Harp On It?

Go away, I'm practicing my harp.

Imagine, if you will, a harp in a living room, circa 1966-ish, in a humble town called Westwood. My friend Naomi (not her real name), a smarty from the get-go, took harp lessons. The harp was grand and imposing and for reasons only a therapist might understand, scared the crap out the SJG. To me, Naomi's harp sat there like a towering tchotchke of doom. The harp seemed to say, "Oh, Pluck Off, You."

I'm just going to put it out there. I didn't like Naomi's harp. Pithy thought: We often don't like what we don't understand. So, fine. I didn't understand what an eight year old was doing playing the harp. This couldn't have been her idea. This idea had to have come from her very strict, harping mother. As in, "Naomi, you will play the harp. You will be a harpist. You will travel the world, thanks to that harp. You will thank me, profusely, every time you step foot on stage. You will curtsy and say, 'I'd like to thank my mother for forcing me to playing the harp. I'm so grateful to her. I'm a harpist because of her belief in me.' "

Naomi and her stupid harp. One time, she was at my house, and we were having a fun time, doing what eight year olds did back in the '60s. We weren't texting or watching YouTube. We were playing with Barbies or playing Crazy 8's or checkers. Good clean, non-harp-related fun. And then my mom, who never forced me to play the harp, but did force me to wear some questionable outfits from time to time, came in and said, "Naomi, your mother just called. She said you have to come home and practice the harp." Worst play date ever.

So, did Naomi grow up to be a harpist? No, she didn't. How long did she play that unportable instrument? Not that long. One day, the harp was gone. I can't tell you when the men from Rent-A-Harp came and took it away. Much like the harp, the string holding our friendship together eventually frayed. But every time I see a harp, which is almost never, I think of Naomi. Naomi and her stupid harp.

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