The Engineer and the Guitarist: Part II

Ted was from Thailand. His real name was longer than the Roman alphabet which nobody could pronounce or remember. So he was simply “Ted.” He came to the United States as a young college student in the 1960’s. He was a smart kid and was admitted to the prestigious UCLA Business School. While he did fine in his core curriculum he was more and more attracted to the study and enjoyment of music. He started taking some classes in music theory. He also took a couple of piano classes. Then he enrolled in a guitar class and he found his genetic resonance. His true passion was the Spanish guitar which he learned from a private teacher.

It was not clear whether Ted ever finished the requirements for a bachelor’s degree in business administration, but he and a few college friends formed a band called the Lalas and started doing gigs in clubs and private parties in the Los Angeles area. Although the band was quite good and had a nice base of clientele, it never received the national attention Simon and Garfunkel did.

Many years later Ted performed at a fraternity party at UCLA and met Megan. Megan was studying to be a math teacher. She was really impressed with Ted’s Tango de la Rosa and he was with her quick analytical mind. About a Engineer and the Guitarist_2year later, while Megan was still a junior in college, they got married. Although this new couple was genuinely and deeply in love with each other, the in-laws on both sides were not. Ted’s parents wanted him to return to
Thailand to take care of the family’s orchard business – that was why they sent him here to study business in the first place.

Megan’s parents were Caucasian Christians and they were not too thrilled that their daughter was going to marry a Muslim from a country known for its elephants. Megan’s mother came to their small wedding without the knowledge of her husband. Ted’s parents were not there.

They moved into a small apartment close to campus. The place was a bit run-down but the rent was reasonable. Ted was a good husband: whatever he made as a musician, he used it to support Megan’s education and the necessaries of the family. In return Megan was his most ardent audience. She would bring her sorority sisters — and her homework– to the clubs where Ted performed, just to listen to him and to support him. She would sometimes get up and led the audience to a cheerful baile while the Lalas delivered the togue and cante.

Three years later Megan graduated with a degree in math and a certificate to teach kindergarten to 12th grade. Good math and science teachers were hard to find in this country, so Megan quickly got a job teaching math at a middle school in a city called Claremont. Their only child Dennis came two years later. By then their frugal life style had saved them the down payment for a small A-frame house near Megan’s work.

The grandson and the house brought the grandparents and in-laws together. Megan’s parents lived in northern California and they would come to visit two or three times a year. Ted’s parents also came from Thailand once every two or three years. Megan nicknamed their son Dennis De-Menace, after the comic strip Dennis the Menace.

She explained. “It’s pretty amazing what a grandchild can do for a family. I would have never dreamed that my parents and Ted’s parents would come to visit us after how we insisted on getting married while I was still in school. Like willing conspirators, they cut off both our living allowances at the same time – that was our wedding present.” Megan told her close friends. “But once Dennis was born, and they saw his pictures, they couldn’t invite themselves over fast enough like kids over candies. That’s how we started calling him Dennis De-Menace, spelled
with the letters D-E, not T-H-E.”

“My dad, the ever-so-proud white American, even learned to do the Thai greeting with praying hands when he saw Ted’s parents. Once he did that, all the suspicions and animosity between the two families flew out the window. Now they are the best of friends. Dennis is really a miracle from above whether you call him God or Allah.”

*** To Be Continued ***

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