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The Last Serenade

I was the only one in my group of friends who was able to play guitar. This meant that everytime one of us decided to get married, I was the unlucky guitarist who had to play “La Serenata” (“The Serenade”) under the window of the future wife. Generally La Serenata is performed a few days before the wedding day, and it involves all the  husband and wife’s friends and relativies. I repeat, All,  I’ve seen serenades more crowded than a concert or a soccer match.  La Serenata was, and still is, the most boring and embarrassing “ritual” of the Italian folklore. As I wrote here before, it is set under the window of the wife’s bedroom and it starts late at night because, theoretically, the musician should awake the girl  with his repertoire of songs. Once the wife wakes up, she looks out the window (next to her mum) and smiles to the crowd of friends and relatives. At this point everyone start to sing as loud as possible along with the husband and the unlucky musician.

Years ago a good friend of mine, Alessio, organized   a  Serenata for his younger sister who was going to   marry with a guy called Gabriele.

Obviously, my fate was sealed.

“Hey Matteo, can you play the guitar for us?” asked my friend one day, “we need a guitarist who can play along with us”. I had no choice. “Sure, it will be a pleasure” I answered  fake as Pamela Anderson Boobs , “I’ can’t wait for it to arrive!”. It arrived for real, and it was to be the worst Serenata of my life. Alessio and his family lived in Borgo Carso,  a little Borgo near the city. Most of the times the Italian Borghi are a sort of little villages, in which the people know each other very well. It’s like a family, a very big family formed by all the Borgo citizens. When I arrived at Gabriele’s house there were tons of people that were waiting for me. “Finally, the guitarist” screamed aunty Maria, “come on, let me hear you. Play Strada Facendo”.

The “Requesting Time” started.

Suddenly I realized that I had a problem: the repertoire of songs. Alessio days earlier had told me that he had all the songs tabs that the relatives wanted to sing.

It wasn’t true.

“Matteo sorry” he said to me, “but I don’t have the guitar tabs that I have promised”.

This meant that I had to “find” the chords for the songs during La Serenata, while everybody were singing. It’s not easy find the right key when you play along with so many drunken persons. Alessio’s father said that it was time to march to his daughter’s house. We started to walk and the marching parade of relatives, friends, and citizens became bigger minutes by minutes. When we arrived at the future wife house, there were all Borgo Carso Citizens.

Italian Borgo

My Long Hard Road to Serenade

An Alessio cousin start to sing a song that I ever heard in my life.

How could I find the chords?

The most sad thing was that everybody at Borgo knew that song, and immediately they started to sing. I play something with my guitar but it was completely out of key. “Stupid guitarist” said an old man, “you have to play along with us, and you have to play our songs”.

Their songs? I didn’t know their songs.

“Hey Alessio, where did you find this guitarist? He is USELESS ”. When they finished to sing, arrived the moment for the instrumental repertoire. So I started to play with my guitar classical songs as Jeux Interdits and other romantic pieces. “Play louder asshole” screamed at me Alessio’s father, “You have to wake up my little daughter. Play LOUDER”. One of the Alessio’s cousin catch a firecracker and threw it near my feet. As it took the ground it exploded with the violence of a flashbang. All the Borgo Carso citizens laught at me, but I didn’t hear them because I became deft for a few second.

Finally Alessio’s sister  woke up.

She looked out the window and smiles to the drunken citizens. They started to sing a song (which obviously I didn’t know). Somebody took my guitar and played along with them. Alessio’s father gave me a huge and said: “don’t worry, we have our guitarist. Relax and enjoy the serenata”.

I begun to drink red wine,  just to forget the embarrassing situation.

This is the last time I attend to a serenata” I sweared to my self while I was drinking, “no more serenate”.

Obviously, that night I got drunk.

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