I never expected to spend much time thinking about ukuleles this week. Or listening to them. Or believing they were anything much more exciting than your average kazoo. But oh, how wrong I was. Now I’m ready to
order a four-stringed beauty online, download every one of the ukulele instructional videos offered on YouTube, and spend much of my spare time strumming a happy tune. Because now I know the truth. Ukuleles are the secret to happiness.
What makes me certain of this is my experience a few nights ago at a concert performed by a ukulele orchestra. It was a group of about twenty-five musicians, all playing ukuleles, and looking like the happiest bunch of people this side of the planet. They strummed, they rocked, they bounced, they sang, and they looked like they could have forgone sleep and played until lunchtime the following day. I was fascinated. I was infatuated. I was ready to skip into the middle of their group, ukulele-less, and just soak up the joy.
Then I remembered a line in one of my playscripts and cringed. It appears in my third Cowgirl Cookie western melodrama, Cowgirl Cookie and the Ghost of the Grange. Cowgirl Cookie is in an argument with her best friend and sidekick, Snickerdoodle. Snickerdoodle has been enjoying the many classes and activities of her local grange hall while Cowgirl Cookie has been actively doing what she loves: reading. The two BFFs begin to debate over the value of “doing” versus “readin’ about it” until Snickerdoodle announces she is late for her ukulele lesson down at the grange hall and stomps off stage. As she does, Cowgirl Cookie bellows after her (and this is where I beg forgiveness from every ukulele-lover that ever lived), “Well, don’t let me stop you from learning the hokiest instrument ever invented!”
Oh, if I could take that line back, I would. Or maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe I would just change the ending completely and redeem the ukulele in Cowgirl Cookie’s eyes just as it’s been redeemed in mine. Cowgirl Cookie could buy a ukulele herself, learn every one of Johnny Cash’s songs, and join a ukulele orchestra. Or something like that. Ah well.
Here are the facts. The ukulele is considered to be the stringed instrument which is the least expensive, the easiest to learn, and the most fun you will ever have on four strings. It’s name in Hawaiian means “jumping flea.” And clearly Cowgirl Cookie had no idea what she was missing out on.
Please check out the entire Cowgirl Cookie Trilogy for more silly, completely unfounded statements by hilarious characters. They are a set of old-fashioned western melodramas that could stand alone or do well with a little musical accompaniment. A middle school ukulele orchestra, for instance. Just sayin’.