Ashoor Drama Group's “Curtain Call”
Posted: Sunday, July 08, 2012 at 07:34 PM UT
Ashoor Drama Group's
by: Peter Bahi
It is not common for authors to include a foreword in their story when the story they write is completely fiction. However, when you’re the son of Samir Bahi and this book is dedicated to not only him but the entire Ashoor Drama Group itself, I thought it would be fitting to write the foreword to my own story. This foreword is based on a true story. I was originally intending on using this as an introduction to another book I was going to write, however, Lord knows nothing is guaranteed in this world so here is a foreword to my foreword and as you read this please remember that “Curtain Call” is fiction, but the foreword that is below this foreword is true. Whether or not you enjoy “Curtain Call” is not the point, the fact of the matter is I wrote it and I am proud. This novel is dedicated to my late Uncle, Albert Bahi, along with someone I considered a second father, William David. May the God of peace bless you for helping support my ministry.
It was June 2nd 1997 and the sun was shining so bright. Summer was upon us, and at the ripe old age of fifteen I was preparing to end my freshman year. As I woke up that morning I remembered seeing my father, Samir Bahi, in his black briefs, flossing his teeth and pondering the day ahead. My mom, Eileen Bahi was in Chicago visiting family so it turned out just to be Dad and I at the time with both of my other brothers already headed out for school earlier. I went inside the little men’s room downstairs preparing myself. As I finished combing my hair I gave my dad a quick nod as I headed for the door. I remembered thinking how strange it was to see my dad that early in the morning. If I had understood Jesus Christ at the time and what He does for His children by allowing them to distinguish certain events by showing us signs, signs in which we blind children can not see, I should have ran over to him, told him that I loved him and told him how proud I was to have him as my father. Regardless of the signs I headed for school looking forward to what the day was going to bring. I attended Johansen High School from 1996 until 2000. I wish I can sit here and tell you that I graduated with honors, receiving a full scholarship to the University of the Pacific, but unfortunately I can not. Heck, during my time in high school I wasn’t even accepted at the University of Phoenix. I ended up failing my freshman year all together so summer school was upon me. I was not in the best of moods knowing that my entire summer was going to be ruined because I had to waste my time hearing boring lectures from teachers when I should have been enjoying the summer playing with my Super Soaker Fifty with my friends at the time, David David and Reggie Rucker. I was proud to have the same group of friends from elementary school all the way until the end of high school, some of which, I still stay in contact with today. I remembered how I was supposed to help my friend Gary with moving. I do not recall in what capacity I was going to help him move but I was looking forward anyway to spending time with my friend. I should have realized however that any moment I look forward to something there is always something that robs me of my joy like a thief in the night as described by Jesus in the Bible. As I headed home my neighbor, whose sister was a nurse at Doctors Medical Center, knocked on my door and told me that my father had a seizure. I thought to myself, ok my dad had a seizure, a fifteen year old who just failed his freshman year is going to know exactly what the definition of a seizure is as somehow she may have confused me with Dr. Oz. I knew a seizure had something to do with the brain but I did not understand at the time the ramifications of how deadly a seizure, especially a grand mal seizure can be. I called Gary up and told him the bad news that I could not help him move today because my dad had a seizure. I described it to him as someone who realizes he can not go outside to play because it is raining. My emotions were not in full comprehension with reality. I received a phone call from Homey Hermiz, my dad’s long time friend and side kick with the Ashoor Drama Group (For more on the Ashoor Drama Group, check out my bonus novel “Curtain Call” at the end of this book)
“Hey Homey, Dad’s in the hospital, he had a seizure.”
“What?” He responded in shock.
“Yeah, apparently he’s at Doctors Medical Center and he’s in intensive care.” A fifteen year old who knows what an intensive care is can be compared to a scholar who knows how to dance. I received phone calls from Homey, as well as my uncle Joe, Sam’s youngest brother.
My mom’s brother Ashoor Lazar, as well as my grandmother, Kathy Lazar, came and picked me up as we headed for the hospital. I remembered wearing my Michael Jordan jersey. Before we walked into the Emergency room I remembered walking nonchalantly to the hospital as though I had no worries. We walked into the emergency room and there was a special room for us. I opened the door and all I remembered seeing was my aunt Diane, Joe’s wife, crying. She was pregnant at the time and her words pierced through me like King Arthur’s sword: “They said your dad has zero to no chance of living!” Joe responded: “My worst nightmare has come true!”
Ok, so let’s rewind this story for a second: Let me remind you that I was fifteen at the time. My dad was doing great in the morning, flossing his teeth and wearing only his black briefs. I was already ticked off that I failed summer school. My mom was in Chicago and I couldn’t help my friend move because I was too busy explaining to him that Dad had a seizure, and now the story goes he has zero to no chance to live. Prior to waking up that morning my only worry was whether or not my freshman year crush, whose fictional name I will use is Karen Springer, was going to accept being my girlfriend (to everyone’s surprise reading this story she unfortunately said no, which made my day even more amazing than it already was turning out!). Patra, our next door neighbor, who also was a nurse at Doctors Hospital, explained to us again that Samir had no chance to live. Everyone in the room is crying including yours truly. I had no understanding of what death was about. It didn’t seem possible. There was chaos in the Bahi household and no one knew what to do. My friend David’s dad William came to the hospital to pick me up and I stayed the night at his house. I remembered just crying the whole way to his house. I was very hungry and William was an amazing cook. He always found ways to take care of me. After we arrived to his house I told him I wasn’t hungry, even though I was starving. As I was crying my eyes out I was eating kabob and drinking soda. David didn’t say a word to me that night. I just remember going into the room I normally slept in when I stayed the night, shut the door, cried some more and had a great night sleep.
The next morning we went back to the hospital. By this time Mom already received the news of Dad’s prognosis so she stormed back to California. I took the day off from school stating I was too emotionally devastated to listen to a lecture about calculus or any other subject for that matter. My brother Paul, the oldest brother, unfortunately had to take leadership of the house at the elderly age of seventeen. He told me it’d be best the next day for me to head to school to kind of clear my head. I concurred though I was not a happy camper. Hearing my dad’s chances of survival were improving daily I decided it was best to head back to school even though I was going to have to attend summer school, I just got rejected, and I sure as heck did not want to listen to any lectures in Calculus. The only teacher I was most looking forward to seeing was Mrs. Jones, whom later that year passed away of kidney failure. She was my Business Law teacher, whom strangely my brother Paul and I had as the same teacher in the same class, very odd for siblings, one a senior and the other a freshmen, to have the same class together. She was very comforting during my time of hurt even though she too was suffering. She always told me that whenever I had doubt in myself to always tell myself that I can do it! (This was way before Rob Schneider made the saying famous). Day to day prognosis of my father was getting much better. He went from zero chance to live to twenty four hours, to forty-eight hours to over thirteen years later still alive today. God is so amazing! Though Dad is partially paralyzed today from the left side, though his speech may not be as effective as it once was, regardless, as Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus Christ, so was my dad and for that we can celebrate!
May this book bring you closer to Jesus Christ and the impact He continues to make in not only my life but my dad’s life as well, amen.
Prologue: June 26th, 1990
Arbella’s Arena was the home of the group’s most memorable moments. The damp lit arena, which is located on the outskirts of northern Illinois, is filled to capacity with twelve thousand screaming fans. All were there to see one group; the Ashoor Drama Group. They had played in the arena a dozen times before, but no day was ever going to be as meaningful as this one. Backstage in the dressing room the smell of sweat roaming through the air from the previous day of rugby athletics, with the entire men sweating profusely and on Samir Bahi’s face there is a look of sadness.
“I can’t believe this is it for me,” cried Samir. “I’ve been performing for about twenty years and I just never imagined this day would come so soon.”
According to the Assyrian Journal, which is to Assyrians what the New York Times is to authors praying to see their book land on the “Best Seller’s List”, Samir was voted as the “Most Influential Musician of All Time”. The moment Ashoor Warda, the pompous talent scout, who discovered Samir outside a nightclub performing with his now defunct band, “The Bat Band,” he knew he had discovered greatness and knew he had to be signed right away. Flash forward to this day, Samir in his early 40’s, showing shades of gray, which cannot be spotted with his long brown wig that is being sported along with his blue & orange winter hat to stop the wig from falling off. But before he goes out to perform as Patel Odisho, he must stop pacing himself back and forth as sweat streams down his painted face due to intense nervousness. At times like this, his agent, mentor, and best friend, Ashoor Warda would have been the one he would have turned to calm his nerves when times were rough. However, throat cancer had taken his life a year earlier; but Samir can still hear his infinite words of wisdom echoing backstage:
“Sam, you gotta relax man,” whispers Ashoor Warda through his imagination. “You’ve done this thousands of times, don’t treat today any differently.”
Those were the words of wisdom Ashoor would have instilled in Samir’s brain which was why the performer became as great as he did. After hearing those chilling words, Samir, the influential legend, was ready to head out to the Arena along with the rest of the group. If Ashoor were still around today he would be so proud of how far they had come. There was hesitance in Samir’s posture. Next to him was a life size mirror staring him down like a John Wayne showdown. Through the mirror images from his past flashed before his very eyes: the rough road of the Bat Band, to concepts of the formation of Patel Odisho with his late mentor, to his first performance of, “Why You Care?” There was a sudden smirk on Samir’s face that was longing to be seen by the rest of the group throughout the entire evening. As Samir came back to reality, he realized how silly he was making himself out to feel considering his expertise in his line of work.
He straightens out his long brown hair and his winter hat, and signals for the rest of the group to come together; “Let’s go guys, it’s time!” All the years that the group had spent together this was going to be their final curtain call. The twelve-thousand screaming fans yell, “Drama Group!” “Drama Group!” “Drama Group!”
With a roaring standing ovation, Samir looks around in awe. He can feel Ashoor smiling down on him and the rest of the guys knowing that this was the vision he had in mind, and this was the final curtain call he had hoped the group would receive.
That at least was his hope…
20 YEARS LATER
Spencer, Illinois had an eagle flowing across the stream-feel to it which was why I had decided after it was time to hang up the boots, if you will, to move down to this peaceful community after spending half of my life in Chicago, where I was supposedly adored. I usually kept to myself during the weekends, devoting most of my time to sports, my family, and of course Jesus Christ; not ranked in order, mind you. After I had decided to retire from active show business I realized that I hadn’t devoted enough time to my beloved family. My wife of 30 years, Eileen, had sacrificed her life to take care of the family and fill the void that I had left while away on the road performing with a guy dressed up as Michael Jackson.
“Samir! Eileen candidly yelled. Homey just called, he wants to know if he can come over to watch the Bulls game tonight?”
“Tell him of course!” I said enthusiastically.
Homey and I have been friends for well over 30 years. He was one of my original members of the drama group along with my brother Edmond, and Ashoor Sargis. Salem Hasamo came later; but he became my most talented and creative friend of the bunch considering how I made him dress up as the Assyrian version of Juliet; and for those who remember she wasn’t a pretty sight. Regardless of my competitive banter it was time to move forward and move on with life. Homey and I hadn’t really discussed the Ashoor Drama Group, as we now have moved on to more important things, the Chicago Bulls! Later in the evening Homey, a heavier set, fun loving kind of guy came over as I had the Bulls blasting on my forty-two inch Samsung television flat screen.
“Did you bring the pizza?” I asked curiously.
“Um, no I thought you were bringing it?”
Homey had his way of making sure I not only provided the entertainment but satisfied his belly too. We were having a great time yelling at every Bulls player miss shots and stating the usual:
“Michael Jordan would have made that shot!”
It was in our nature to always bring up the beloved Chicago icon no matter what sport we were watching. Even during Bears games we always had a way of bringing Michael Jordan’s name into the topic of discussion, even if it included our conversations about Church and Church politics:
“Michael Jordan wouldn’t have preached that way!”
After the game was over and we, as usual, lost, Homey finally made his way out. It was getting late and the wife, whom I hadn’t shown much attention to thanks in large part to Homey & I bickering about our beloved team, Eileen wanted to have the famous “talk”. I always wondered if every woman got together and discussed a “union” of sorts in order to find a way to get their husbands to sweat like a pig and show mercy and pretty much agree with everything they say.
“Samir, you know we’re running low on cash don’t you?” Eileen murmured.
“Look, I’ve always told you not to mention money around me didn’t I?” I yelled.
Eileen never enjoyed the tone of my voice rising to the level all the neighbors could hear so she usually made me feel guilty and left the room before I could even finish speaking my piece. I felt that I was in the right though.
“When I say something why can’t everyone just listen to me?” I thought. “I guess God didn’t create certain individuals this way”. I went after her to do the usual; apologize. Normally, it would work. I’d run down to the local flower shop and grab the best dozen roses I can find, along with her favorite French Vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone. Sure it was corny, but with all the years I made a living with my sense of humor, I didn’t enjoy making anyone laugh more than my beloved wife. Today however, was different. As she stated the obvious; yes we are indeed running a bit tight on money, but I for one never wanted to acknowledge it, nor did I ever enjoy money being a topic of conversation. On usual days I can entertain her like I’ve entertained millions, but today just wasn’t the case.
“So, what are you going to do about the house?” she argued. “We are behind rent just in case you forgot.”
“No, I didn’t forget, I just haven’t spent much time thinking about it that’s all,” I argued back sounding more like a poor soul than someone who has things figured out.
“I’m happy to hear the Chicago Bulls are more important than your family’s well being.” Whenever someone brings up the Chicago Bulls in a negative sense I tend to retaliate, but I obviously knew better than to argue against the wife. So, I decided to take a stroll out in Gardado Park, a beautiful, well lit park near our home where my wife and I usually go out for a walk when we feel overwhelmed in the house. Today, I am going at it alone.
After his Ashoor Drama Group stints, my beloved brother, Edmond Bahi, finished college and earned his PhD in English Literature. His demeanor was like no other. His 6 foot 4 stature had mistaken him regularly for a basketball player, and who knows, if the whacky idea of joining his brother as a performer hadn’t come his way, perhaps he would have pursued athletics. Edmond is a professor of English Literature at the Henrik Ibsen Center for Creative Writing located in Spencer, Illinois. Unlike yours truly, Edmond seemed content with what he had going for him. After all, his salary had tripled since the Ashoor Drama Group called it quits. Edmond would be teased for his demeanor in English Literature while on the road with the group. He would annoy us with his theories on whether or not Jane Austen was poisoned to death or did she really die of natural causes, or whether or not George Bernard Shaw was more popular than Shakespeare. Edmond didn’t care, even if he knew his theories were a bit tacky, he just enjoyed stirring things up, which makes sense as to why he loves his job today. Sipping a cup of coffee during his intermission after having a two hour lecture on the life of Margaret Mitchell, famed author of Gone with the Wind, Edmond talks up a storm in the teacher’s lounge, all 6 feet 4 inches of him, very enthusiastically and passionately like a preacher at a Pentecostal Church, ready to save people from the fires of hell.
“I am telling all of you flat out,” Edmond yelled. “This news may come as a bit of shock, but I, Professor Edmond Bahi, have come up with a theory not even the famous Nostradamus could have even predicted! William Shakespeare was really a woman!”
He continued, “The idea a woman was to write such famous plays during the 16th century, gives it a perfect cover up ploy to change her into a him and make her/him a William!”
Edmond drew laughter from the other professors in the lounge; however he never seemed to be shaken up by their lack of interest.
“I’ll show all of you!” cried Edmond, with his fist jolting in the air like an athlete celebrating victory.
After a long day of creating controversy Edmond did live a normal life with a beautiful wife and two grown children. Edmond and Linda met on the set of, “Pira from Africa” while Linda worked with the Ashoor Drama Group as lead Costume Designer/Make up artist. From the moment he saw her he knew she was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Little did she know at the time she would end up marrying Pira, whom a lot of fans of the Ashoor Drama Group today still recognize as the second most popular song in their history only behind, “Leh Beyin Bekhta”, performed by Salem Hasamo.
“Lucy, I’m home”, Edmond giving his best Ricky Ricardo impersonation, as he jolts his way into his home still craving attention he hadn’t received from anyone at Henrik. “What we havin for dinner?”
“Oh shut up,” jokingly states Linda as she rushes at Edmond’s side like a linebacker ready to sack a quarterback.
“Sam called, she continued. “Apparently Eileen keeps reminding him about their lack of financial security. He’s down at Gardado’s, doesn’t seem to be doing so well.”
“What else is new with him?” an agitated Edmond mumbles. “He hasn’t had a real job since I’ve known him. All he does is relive the past by going to those stupid Legends Conventions every year where only about 10 people show up to get his autograph. He needs to get his butt back in order and drop Patel Odisho once and for all.”
“Edmond Bahi, how could you say such a thing about your brother?” Linda cries in a look of disbelief. “You dare forget before you were Mr. Nutty Professor you were a member of the Ashoor Drama Group yourself?”
“I’m a Nutty Professor because I get away with being one, brags Edmond. “You think the Board of Directors at Henrik would have ever hired me if I appeared to be sane to them? Besides, I’ve moved on from the Ashoor Drama Group. It’s been twenty years since our final performance. That show was our final show so what more can someone with his caliber ask for? He received a rousing standing ovation, everyone in the audience was teary eyed and everyone thanked him for his contributions. It’s time I go down to the park and kick my brother back into full gear before it’s too late for him.”
Linda just looked on in amazement as her beloved Nutty Professor hurried his way out the door to give me a pep talk I had been falling short of hearing for quite some time.
After I made my way around the beautiful gardens of Gardado, viewing felicitous families, celebrating daily life with their loved ones, flying kites and losing sight of the wind, free of any emotion, it was easy to get sucked into the dangers of depression, feeling as though life was not where you had expected it. My parents had always encouraged me to never give up on my dreams, but they were pretty adamant when it came to studying the religious life.
“What could have been?” I sadly found myself mumbling.
Before I was wearing funky costumes, wearing makeup and portraying odd ball characters and making a living at it, years prior to marriage, I was pondering living the religious life. My parents were heavy Catholics and they always wanted to be able to proudly tell their friends that their son was a priest. I can still imagine what goes through their minds as they watched me perform on stage dancing around and singing with some of the characters I portrayed. Perhaps I let them down, but I am forever grateful to my parents for never really showing their discomfort in my decision-making in becoming a full time performer after I had the sad honor of telling Father Stephen at Mount Tabor Catholic Church in Chicago that I was not going to pursue the priesthood after all; vowing my allegiance instead to the performing arts.
“Good times”, I thought to myself. “Good times.”
After making my rounds across Gardado’s I found the park bench Eileen and I would sit on and discuss our future plans, seeing the sky turn from blue to black in an instant as we counted the stars in the sky. I always picked the brightest, most beautiful star in the sky to be her. Today, no stars appeared; the only future plans I had were no plans at all. Edmond, who is never at a loss for words, finally made it to the park sitting alongside with me as two old veterans talking about their battles during the War.
“I’m guessing Linda told you I called,” I stated with pure sarcasm.
“Sam, what in the hell are you doing out here in the dark all by yourself? Edmond stated with worry in his voice. Where’s Eileen?”
“She’s kind of ticked off at me for not being employed,” I moaned.
“Do you think she has a right to be upset?” Edmond responded, knowing his response would generate a response from me.
“Ah, maybe she’s right, maybe everyone’s right. I just can’t seem to let go of the past. I’m not ready to let go of the past.”
I was certain Edmond would give me a pep talk about what is important in life, how I should drop what was behind and move forward to whatever is left of my life.
“You know what Sam?” Edmond stormed out of his park bench seat. “The hell with everyone and their opinions, you’re Samir Bahi! And if no one, including your wife, can appreciate who you are and what you are than I don’t know what else to tell them!”
My heart felt as though it wanted to burst open with delight.
Edmond continued; “You’re not going to tell Linda I said that are you?”
I laughed. “No, of course not, I appreciate you still believing in me Ed. You’ve always been a great brother you know that?”
Edmond never heard me tell him that enough. I know over the years I’ve always been too consumed with my own career, but family, as my parents always stressed to me growing up, always came first.
“So..what now?” Edmond asked with curiosity.
“Well, I know Eileen and I need money,” I replied. “But, we’ll just have to figure something out when the time comes I guess.”
“Well, you better figure something out quick Sam,” Edmond said with sound of discernment in his voice. “You’re not getting any younger or richer.”
I hated that he was right. I honestly didn’t even care to hear what he had to say after our touchy moment about the importance of family. I now know in my heart I must do something, or else we may end up losing our house, losing my vision of retirement, and lose, perhaps even my marriage. The idea of that scares the daylights out of me which was why a plan must be in order quickly.
“Up for poker tonight,” I asked confidently.
Poker was our way of escaping reality like scholarly men and women who enjoy watching CSPAN.
“Of course,” Edmond ecstatically replied. “I’ll get a hold of the guys. In the mean time I have to get back to the wife before she gets worried. Is it alright if I tell her that I yelled at you and told you to quit reliving the past and to get up and get a job?”
“Yeah, that’s fine Ed,” I replied. “It’s better if we kept my thoughts a secret for now. We don’t know who we’ll piss off next.”
We both laughed but I was still pondering how true that sentiment was. Why anyone would want someone to give up on their dreams is beyond me. Maybe my parents’ vision of me being a priest was the way I was supposed to go. Perhaps choosing Patel Odisho over Father Stephen wasn’t the smartest decision, but it was a decision I never looked back on, nor would I trade the roar of the crowd for anything in this world! I’m always going to be proud of my legacy, regardless if I have to live off of food stamps for the rest of my life.
It was nice to have the wife leave the house for a while as the guys and I can have our annual “Poker Night at the Bahi Residence.” We haven’t been able to have it for a couple of months considering everyone had different work schedules and the like. It was nice to have the group together to get my mind off of things for a while, especially when I have Eileen around to constantly remind me how we’re not living in 1987 anymore. My invitees were: Edmond, the brother, Homey, the best friend who never shies away from personal invites. Salem Hasamo, our bulkiest member ever, and in my personal opinion, the most gifted of the bunch, and last, but not least, Ashoor Sargis, best known as “Assyrian Michael Jackson.” I may have been the one to write and sing the song, but Ashoor has always been in better shape than I, he also had more of the Michael Jackson look than the rest of us, without the changing of his skin color. My wife may like to remind me how it’s not 1987 but with the gang back together for our annual night, it sure felt like it was.
“Sam,” Homey’s deep voice emerged from the bunch. “Got anything to eat?”
“You eat too much man,” Salem angrily responded.
“It’s none of your business what I eat or don’t eat,” Homey protested. “In fact, I’m ordering a pizza right now Arnold.”
Homey mockingly pulled his arms out like he was a personal trainer showing an overweight person what it’s like to be in shape. Everyone laughed as I shook my head analyzing the two “goof balls” I loved so much.
“Speaking of Arnold,” I quickly replied in order to try and change the subject. “What’s with actors today? They’re not made the way they used to be in our time.”
“I’m not followin yah man?” Salem responded confusedly.
“He’s right yeah know?” replied Ashoor. Take for example Sylvester Stallone, now that was an actor man, today, you ain’t got nothin compared to Sly and his Rocky movies, Rambo..”
I interrupted. “Over the Top, Tango & Cash, and my all-time favorite, “Stop, Or My Mom Will Shoot.”
Everyone laughed, with the exception of Ashoor, who seemed upset at my attempt to mock his all time favorite actor. Ashoor idolized Sylvester Stallone during the 80’s. When Ashoor performed he always made sure the night before he would stay up to study his idol’s bodily movements during a scene so he would be able to emulate the same movements when he himself had to prepare for the stage.
“Why you gotta do that to me man?” Ashoor grunted.
“I see your point though guys,” Edmond said, as he finally wanted to let himself be heard. “We were a lot better at what we did back then than what they are doing today. I can guarantee you if you were to place us in the same role than a lot of these actors are portraying today, we’d outshine them in a heart beat.”
I always enjoyed Edmond’s confidence when it came to hyping the group up. The sparks always lit inside of me, and sometimes I wish he would give up being a professor to become a motivational speaker instead.
“So, you’re tellin me we better than Vin Diesel?” Salem responded.
“In your prime you would have played a better Riddick than Vin, yes I am saying that,” Edmond replied.
“Ha, I’d portray a better Riddick today even in my late 50’s.”
Edmond laughed. “Yeah, I agree!”
As we sat around the table the conversation went from playing poker to discussing 80’s movie stars. I needed to break the ice so I finally made the first move.
“I’ve got a good hand so I’ll throw in two quarters, and a personal replica of my red-button up shirt I wore in the “Say No to Drugs” video,” I said confidently. It means the world to me.
Everyone laughed and looked confused as to why they would want to own the material. To make this night more enjoyable, however, they all went along with it and Salem decided to throw around his own piece of history.
“Ok, Salem replied. I’ll throw in a piece of my own memorabilia. I’ll raise you two quarters, and I’ll throw in my wig I wore in the first “Romeo & Juliet” video I performed. I’m still pretty ticked about that video. Was Linda really trying to dress me up as Marilyn Monroe or something?”
“I think she was Salem,” I replied. “Regardless of that, you’re on!”
So the two of us, in our own personal glory, wanted to out duel the other, and though the times have changed, our competitive banter has not. With sweat storming down our faces like streams in a river, I ended up pulling out the victory as my four of a kind beat his full house.
“You lucky son of a….” Salem hesitated to finish his sentence. Anyone other than me he wouldn’t have. Thank God he loves yours truly to death.
“You can keep your memorabilia wig Salem, It’s a token of my appreciation for all your hard work over the years I’ve known you,” I replied.
“Thanks Sam, love yah too man.”
It ended up getting pretty late and all the guys were on their way out. The topic of how we can be better than the actors of today may have been a joke to them, or maybe it wasn’t. Either way it got me to think of the endless possibilities that are out there for us. We may be up there in age, but I bet the group can still out-perform anyone out there, especially those that are on Broadway, hands down.
Eileen has been employed in the grocery industry for as long as I can remember. At “Grocery-Rite Now,” they even made her “Employee of the Month” for the entire month of February. My argument with her was if they liked her so much why have they only benefited with her four hours into the day? If my wife had a weakness, one she will never concede with me on is her inability to stand up for herself; with the exception being when she argues with me about my life. The way we survive is food stamps, her part time job, and of course, “Legends Night at the Lazar,” a place where they bring out the legends of yesteryear onto the stage; whether to get laughed at or cheered, which in some cases, I’ve handled both. My talent agent, Sargon Dawid, always seemed intrigued putting me on stage as an “Old Timer” than someone who still has what it takes to perform, even for my age. I met Sargon ten years ago after he was trying to get some of the guys to come together for a final show. Though, he’s never been able to convince me or the rest of the guys to put on a final show, considering we had already done so twenty years ago, he still brings it up often, probably to out duel his former boss, Ashoor Warda, my late friend, who never felt Sargon was a liable asset to the group so he always seemed to keep him in the back burner, which often irritated him. Today, Sargon has come into his own, though, he’s more of an elderly man now in his late seventies, he still feels that urge to get the “band back together” and sell out arenas.
I walked into the building at Legends seeing my old agent Sargon dressed in his usual flannel-button up shirt tucked into his jeans, what you would expect from a normal seventy year old, not someone who is supposedly representing a “legend” if you will.
“Sam,” yelled Sargon. “I have great news in store tonight my dear friend.”
Normally, the great news was I would go up first so I can get this night over with. Do my stand-up comedy, be given my $150 performance, give Sargon $25 for being my agent, and pay the electric bill.
“They want Patel Odisho Sammy! They want Patel Odisho!”
“No chance, no way,” I argued back. “I don’t do Patel anymore, didn’t you tell them that? Why on earth did I hire you as an agent if you can’t even do your job right by knowing what I want and don’t want?”
I was furious. I wanted to fire Sargon right on the spot.
“Their asking price was $300 if you will perform,” Sargon reluctantly replied.
That definitely changed the stance on my final decision.
“You’re damn right I’ll do it! I replied, suddenly changing my demeanor once the amount of money I’d be receiving was announced. “When am I on?”
With the way things were going for us financially, how could I say no to his proposal?
“Right after Peter Bahi is done with his act,” said Sargon.
“My son…what’s my son doing here?” I replied curiously.
Well, your son is a son of a legend which makes him a legend in his own right, I guess. Either way, the fans were interested.”
Peter was my second-born. Today, he’s in his early thirties, happily married, much to my surprise. I remember when he was a child he would always want to be around the group when we would perform. I even gave him a part in one of my video’s which is now known as the, “Say No to Dropping” video. In the video Peter dropped at least two passes that were thrown to him by a little girl which made him look twice as bad. Although, he may have made a fool of himself in the video, he is still my son, so I have to accept him for all that he is I suppose.
“Hey what’s up Daddy-O?” Peter vibrantly ran up to me giving me a huge hug as he always does.
“Peter,” I replied. What on earth are you doing here? Why are you dressed like that?”
Peter was dressed as though he was 5 years old all over again. His striped t-shirt, tucked in, riding down his dark blue jogging pants. His hair was also awkwardly styled parted sideways.
“I’m playing me Dad,” Peter said. “I’m playing me when I was in your video, duh!”
“Um, ok son,” I said. “If you’ve been paid to perform and dress this way, then all I can say is, why the heck not?”
Peter laughed. “No, I didn’t get paid for this Dad. I did this because I loved being five. You know, when you used to pay attention to me!”
Peter walked away as though I was the one who needed to seek counseling. Either way, I guess it was nice to finally see him again at Legends despite his busy marriage life.
After coping with my son’s rebuttal to relive his childhood I finally dressed up in my Patel Odisho-attire, which wasn’t exactly what I envisioned the return of Patel Odisho would look like. Instead of my famous blue and orange snow hat, which was once a Chicago Bears snow hat I turned into a “character hat,” I’m stuck wearing a green and white, “Robert’s Trucking” snow hat, which appears a dog had taken a few bites out of. My pajama pants were now sweats, and my wig was down to my lower backside. It made me look more like a raggedy trucker than Patel Odisho. I had no way out, and considering the amount of cash I was going to receive in return for my outlandish style this evening, I knew my options were limited.
“The raggedy return of Patel Odisho,” I joked to myself as I stared in the mirror anticipating this, somewhat, nonchalant return.
Sargon was too busy occupying himself with the little snack bar that was set up in each individual dressing room as a means to show us our importance as performers.
“I can’t do this, I hesitated. I’m not going on stage.”
“Um, what’s that Sam? I couldn’t hear you? These hot wings are to die for!” Sargon pretended not to hear me. But, he knew exactly what I felt.
“I know you heard me,” I said. “I’m not going on stage. I look ridiculous.”
“Sam,” replied Sargon. “Does $300 to go up there and sing a few songs seem foolish to you?”
“Yes…yes it does sound foolish Sargon because I’m not going to go out there and lower my standards for a few extra dollars. I mean, look at what I’m wearing! I look more like a rugged old trucker than Patel Odisho.”
“Sam, who cares what you’re dressed like,” Sargon said in defense. “No one’s going to hire you anymore. Don’t you get it Sammy my boy? This is your final opportunity. You’re not young anymore; you don’t have the luxury you once had. Your entire life is based on your characters, it’s never been based on Samir, no one cares about Samir, they care about Patel, regardless of what he looks like or dressed like. Either you go out there and earn a few extra dollars or you call it a career once and for all. Now, go make some money Sammy my boy, or just go home.”
As hurt as I was for Sargon telling me the honest truth, it definitely wasn’t what I wanted to hear at the time. He was right though, this would be my last opportunity to don Patel Odisho even if he looked ridiculous. But, my pride, like always, got the best of me. Though he was right to state his opinions, and whether or not I agreed with him is an entirely different issue, I did not hesitate to storm out of the dressing room with no return. I realized Lazar would probably never call me back, and the chances of receiving an income were even now more slim than ever, regardless, there would be no way possible I would tarnish my legacy, nor allow anyone else to tarnish my legacy the way they tried to tonight. My plans were becoming less and less as well as my income, but I just wouldn’t have it. As I hopped into my beat up station wagon, with Sargon Gabriel music blasting as I turned the engine on, I felt streams of water dripping down my cheek as tears ran down my eyes not knowing what lied ahead. I knew I had to think of a plan quickly because nothing seemed to be going my way. I sat there motionless in my vehicle contemplating ending it all right here, however, I heard a still-small voice whisper in my ear, “Get out of the vehicle and give me all your money.”
No, that was not the voice of God talking, instead, that was a mugger, wanting whatever money I had left.
“Get out of the car Patel,” the mugger yelled.
“I’m guessing you’re not a fan,” I joked.
He punched me in the stomach then hit me in the back of the head with what felt like a lead pipe. When I finally had woken up I was in an emergency room with my wife sitting beside me taking a nap. Despite my inability to move, or think very logically, I still couldn’t believe how beautiful Eileen was. It definitely was a breath of fresh air to see her. I made somewhat of an “ugh” sound, which somewhat startled her. She quickly rushed next to me. I must admit, I loved the attention.
“Oh my God Sam, how are you feeling? Oh, you poor thing,” her startled voice grew a bit louder. “Who did this to you?”
Barely able to talk, I put my hand on her mouth, giving her the “shh” sound as best as I could have. As tears streamed down her tan-complexion face, it was nice to see her smiling again, since that was a little inside joke we had on one another.
“You’re right…for once, when you “shh” me you’re right,” she laughed. “Just get some rest honey; I’m just so glad you’re ok. I was so worried…”
I “shh’d” her one final time.
She laughed again. “I love you, you know that. I do.”
She gave me a kiss on my forehead as my face was somewhat lacerated and swollen after the punches I took from this mugger.
“Go back to sleep Sam, tomorrow’s another day for us. We’ll get through this together, I promise.”
I hoped she was right. I’m not sure what hurt me more at this point; whether I was a dying breed or dying because my legacy was being tarnished, or could have been tarnished if I had went on stage to bring Patel back not to my best liking. I knew I deserved better than that. I knew Patel Odisho deserved better than that.
It wasn’t long after the attack that my fame spread wider. Channel 29 News Team was the first to break the story:
We interrupt this telecast for a special news bulletin. Assyrian music icon Samir Bahi was rushed to a local hospital this morning after being attacked by a fan outside the parking lot at “Legends at the Lazar.” As soon as we receive more information about this shocker sent across the Midwest we will be sure to inform you. Samir Bahi was best known to his fans for being the leader of the hit 80’s band, Ashoor Drama Group.
Using was in the past tense scared the heck out of me. Did he know something I didn’t about my passing? Only thing going through my mind, back in the comfort of my own home again, was the realization that I was attacked and I would be darn sure charges would be pressed once we find out who it was that attacked me. However, with no memory of the incident whatsoever, I would be hard pressed to identify the culprit.
With my buddies by my side and my wife, whom this attacker should fear the most, I realized how blessed I was to be around people that loved me, even during these horrible circumstances. One person I was not very excited to see at my home was Sargon, though, as I had finally woken up from my deep sleep on the futon, he did appear a bit shaken at what happened to me.
“Sam, Sam…Sam my boy, I’m so sorry Sam. Are you ok Sam? cried Sargon, I can’t believe someone would do this to you my boy.” Although, inside his mind I bet he’s pondering; but if you only had listened to me and performed on stage instead of being out there all by your lonesome this attack would have never happened you nimrod!
“I’m..fi…fine Sargon, thanks,” I winced, struggling to get my words out due to the drugs I was given to stop the pain.
“Sam, Sam my boy, don’t talk no more, don’t talk no more…get some shut eye will yah…don’t speak, I can tell it hurts, don’t speak my boy.”
It was nice to have Sargon appreciate the pain I was going through, both physically and emotionally. I hadn’t realized though how much he and the others cared as well. Sometimes it takes a good butt whipping to figure that out in people.
The door bell rang. I bet Sargon and Homey were anticipating the pizza guy to pay a special visit, giving a special supreme pizza on the house in honor of my well being, but that was not the case.
Standing at a dripping wet, one hundred-thirty pounds at the most, was a journalist from Entertainment Illustrated, as his press pass hovered around his neck stated.
“Ah, good morning, ah sorry to have disturbed you fine folks, but I’m looking for a, ah, Samir Bahi, is ah, Samir Bahi, one Samir Bahi, ah available?”
Judging from his demeanor, he didn’t appear to have had much luck in high school with the women. He seemed brightly intelligent however, something I can admire in a person, one who went on to College to pursue a degree in their dream field of study. It reminded me of one of my older songs, “Be Cool, Stay in School.”
“Sam’s asleep,” my wife replied. “Who is inquiring?”
“Ah, sure, ah my name is Roman Agasi, and may I add, I’m a huge fan of his, which was part of the reason why I ah wanted to come and meet the man myself. I feel like a kid in a candy store just to be in the same ah house as him.”
Eileen couldn’t help but smile at the appreciation I was receiving from a die hard fan.
Roman continued. “Anyway, ah, the reason why I’m here is because, I ah wanted to write a story about the Ashoor Drama Group. After hearing the news about Samir’s attack I just knew ah this would be the perfect opportunity to try and recapture the magic that the group so much deserves.”
“We’re right here,” as Salem pops out from the kitchen, hearing every word that Roman said. “What do you want from us?”
The rest of the group with the exception of Edmond, were there, Edmond was too busy giving lectures and theories at Henrik’s.
Roman was startled. “Oh….oh my God, it’s…it’s really you…..and…you and oh…I don’t believe I’m standing in front of the Ashoor Drama Group!” It was nice seeing Roman so excited, though, I was at ten percent at the time on the couch recuperating.
He continued. “Can…I must…ah…ok, let me get back to you guys!” Roman opened the door as he was about to burst out of the scene like someone winning the lottery. He stares right at the guys before he leaves and gives them a quick Ha ha!” The guys were just staring at one another confused. Roman storms back in.
“Ok…I’m back!” he said excitingly. “I’m ready to interview the, ah, legends.”
“Alright, what exactly do you want to know?” asks Ashoor.
“This is a great question, Ashoor, Ashoor Sargis, oh…oh my gosh, Ashoor Sargis, the Assyrian Michael Jackson!” He gives them another Ha ha!
Roman continued. “Well, first off, I wanted to let you guys know that once my story is, ah, you know, written and published, I ah, wanted to forewarn you about the fame that will be spread out again, especially with Samir’s most recent attack.”
“Yeah, that’s cool wit us,” replied Salem. “Fame’s a good thing. It ain’t a ….”
Homey interrupted. “Watch it Sal, not in front of the kid man.”
“Kid?” asked Roman in a confused monotone.
“I’m actually..anyway, look, ok, bottom line is, ah, I just assumed your age would be a burden for all the fame you’re, ah, about to receive. You know, I just assumed, it ah, may be a health hazard that’s all.”
That last statement nearly set Salem off as he wanted to pounce every bit of skin left on Roman’s body.
“Age?...Are you calling us old?”
Roman freezed. “No!..No! Oh my gosh no! That’s not what I meant, not at all…ah…ok look, I’m not going to brag but I’m the most read journalist the Illustrated has, so, along with, ah, Samir’s latest attack, this gives the group double the exposure, it ah, initially had bargained for.
Everyone looks around each other waiting for the each other’s approval.
“Yeah, we can live wit that”, replied Ashoor. “Like Salem said, fame’s a good thing.”
“Exactly what I said,” interrupted Salem, with an ounce of sarcasm.
“Ok great!” Roman, just relieved to be on the group’s good side once again. “The group is in line for, ah, somewhat of a makeover if you will.”
“Makeover,” Homey interrupted. “Hey look, I’m all for fame, but, I’m not ready to put on any kind of ridiculous makeover outfits like they have on those talk shows you know?”
“Absolutely not,” Roman replied. “I’m not suggesting a physical makeover, ah, even though that may be necessary when it comes to 21st century costumes, and the like. But, I’m more suggesting, ah, well, you know, it’s been twenty years, since ah, the public has seen any of you for the most part, all together at least. I know, ah each of you have done special occasions where you’ve done some performances on your own, but, ah, the group, when it comes together, there’s, ah, there’s this majestic thing to it that no one can ever take away. So, when I write this story, when your photo is plastered all over the magazine, I ah, want to be sure I capture that spotlight once again, and be the one to put the Ashoor Drama Group back in the spotlight, even ah, more of course, than it already is, with all due respect.”
“Ok, so what’s in it for us?” said Ashoor. “What do we get out of this besides being recognized once again? I’m not sure you heard us correctly when we said we’ve retired, and I’m sure you remember calling us old. We’re not thirty and forty anymore, we’re in our sixties man, what do you expect us to do now? I mean, do you think people still want to see us? Even after twenty years since we last did a show?”
Roman smiled. “If you, ah, can understand how much of a fan I am, and ah, which I can’t stress enough this all important thing; that you trust me and believe what I’m going to do for you guys will bring you back to the promised land you boys deserve to be at. It ah, may not be the same as it once was, but that’s ok, because ah, you know, times have changed, entertainment has changed, but, once everyone is aware of your “rejuvenation” if you will, then phone calls will be, ah, lining up for you guys to come out of retirement.
“What are you talking about here?” Homey asks with confusion.
“I’m talking merchandise. I’m talking a “Best of” compilation, I’m talking action figures, I’m talking t-shirts, and the like. I, ah, am talking twice the money you’ve ever made even during your glory years.
Homey, hearing the sound of money gave him excitement. “You have a deal! When do we start?”
“Not so fast,” interrupted Ashoor. “We got to wait for Sam to wake up to get the final approval.”
“Sam will agree, look at him. He needs the money anyway,” said Homey.
Even though I was dozing off on the couch, dazed with the medication and the pain I was in, I still caught everything that was mentioned and I must admit, I was highly impressed, considering in all our years together we’ve never came out with a “Best of”compilation, or especially action figures, which never even came across my mind at the notion. I was much more excited to hear about the action figures than anything else, but of course, during times like this, the idea if our name was thrown out there again, regardless of whether or not it’s positive or negative, will have people talking about us once again, which was something we all had craved during our misfortune years of being retired. Even Eileen, though she much prefer I work a steady and reliable job, couldn’t help but be somewhat fascinated at the notion that more money would generate with all the merchandise that would sell.
“Sure, I can’t see why not,” Eileen brought her self into the mix of people agreeing with this rejuvenation. “Money is tight so anything would help, especially right now with Sam being on the shelf.”
Roman was about to jump up and down like Tom Cruise on the Oprah Winfrey show. “Then it’s set! The Ashoor Drama Group is back baby! The way it was ah supposed to. And, once Sam is up and ready we’ll get the photo up as well. Congratulations guys and welcome back into the mix! You’ve definitely been ah, missed.”
“That sounds amazing,” Eileen said. “So, what is this story going to be titled?”
“I was thinking, since this comeback of sorts won’t last forever, I was thinking we title it, “Ashoor Drama Group’s Curtain Call.” How does that sound? Too, ah, edgy or what?”
“No, I like it!” replied Eileen. “Someone should go tell Edmond he’s back in business.”
Eileen and Roman laughed. Others really didn’t consider what Edmond would feel, nor Sam for that matter, regardless if they wanted to or didn’t. The simple fact that the fame would be back their way after a twenty year layoff was definitely a bright spot during this dark time with Samir’s latest attack.
“Are you going to interview the agent as well?” Sargon asked with a sound of sadness in his voice.
“Of course you can Sargon!” replied Eileen. You’re part of this family too! The others looked at each other with a bit of confusion, but who can argue with Samir Bahi’s wife? Compromises have to be made so by this time they would agree to anything just as long as the group would once again earn honorable mention.
MARCH 4/11 2010
ASHOOR DRAMA GROUP’S
BY: Roman Agasi
WE CAN ALL AGREE ON SOMETHING HERE: The Ashoor Drama Group is the greatest Assyrian Comedy band of all time; with their continued influence on all children alike across the country. But let us remember; when the group launched in the beginning of May 1984 with “Patel Odisho,” Samir Bahi and the rest of the gang had no idea how big the group would become. No one was predicting a “Comedy Revolution.” In fact, their agent-then owner Ashoor Warda had given the Ashoor Drama Group just one volume they were only going to produce. No other commitments were made. “Commitment should be in quotation marks,” joked Homey Hermiz, one of the group’s most notable faces. “I thought we’d do one volume and that would be it. Sam and I had dinner one night and I said to him, “I can’t believe Ashoor is letting us continue this! “It just seemed like we were doing what we wanted and having fun and they were actually putting us in more videos. It was a mystery to me how this was occurring.”
Through every good story remains a dark side however; with the recent attack of Samir Bahi the group is left questioning whether or not they were ever loved to begin with. “When something like this happens you begin to wonder if everything we had done over the years was ever worth it,” says Samir Bahi, the lead vocalist of the group. “But in the end we did it because we loved it and that is all that matters. If we had to do it all over again today we would do it in a heart beat.” Celebrating their twenty year anniversary from their previous farewell concert held in Arbella’s Arena, the Ashoor Drama Group cannot thank their fans enough for the support they have showed them through the good times and the bad. Even longtime friend and current agent of the group Sargon Dawid agreed: “The fans we will always love and cherish no matter what happens to us”. Asked whether or not there is a possibility the group will ever reform and go back touring Samir hesitantly replied, “I always like to keep the hope; so with that I say never say never.”
THE GROUP REBORN
Every year for Christmas the group and I, along with our significant others, get together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, better known as Christmas. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday ever since I can remember. My parents used to take Edmond and I every year to meet Santa as youngsters growing up in the outskirts of Iraq. I remember one year I received a plastic toy guitar that Edmond used time and time again to hit me over the head with. Ever since our teenage years we would stay up late watching WWWF Wrestling imitating our favorite wrestler growing up, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. Those were definitely the “good ol days,” as the elderly refer to it. Sure, I have scars on my back to remind myself how painful those times were, but emotionally they were always the best. Even today, when we gather together to celebrate the day Jesus was born, surrounded by loved ones, not stressing over bills, or anything even remotely close to dealing with financial insecurity; gathering around the dinner table eating turkey, rice, smoked ham, and whatever the gob Homey’s wife decided to bring along, was exactly the reason I enjoy living and celebrating this very day.
“You’ve outdone yourself today with this…delicious steak Evelyn,” I gleamed. Evelyn & Homey have been married well over twenty years so she is well aware of my false pretenses.
“It’s pork Sam, said Evelyn, as she looks upon me as though she would like nothing more than to shove that steak..pork…or whatever it may be, right in my throat.
“Oh..right,” I responded hesitantly.
As we were sitting around the dinner table enjoying our fine festivity; what was on the television set grabbed my attention. I asked Salem to turn it up a bit, as he was closest to the T.V. It was none other than liberal phenomenon Gavin Osborne. Gavin has a degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which means, anyone who has Ivy League credentials listen to him; or, anyone who wants to feel educated from an Ivy League graduate listens to him. Most people take his rants as pure gospel; with the exception of the few who compare him to Adolf Hitler. Regardless of how one views the man, everyone indeed listens:
“Listen Up to Gavin Osborne”
“So there appears to be some type of confusion. It appears to me we are living back in 1985 once again. I said, it appears to me we are living back in 1985. No, I’m not referring to the Super Bowl Shuffle, no, I’m not referring to the Blues Brothers, and no, I am definitely not referring to that vagabond, Cindy Lauper. Folks, from the looks of things we are in for a hostile takeover from the 80’s. Has anyone read Roman Agassi’s latest column about the so-called “Curtain Call” from the Ashoor Drama Group? Roman, I know you’re watching, now don’t get me wrong my friend, I’ve read all your material, that’s what we Ivy Leaguers do right? We read all day and party all night, isn’t that right my friend? Let the camera zoom in closer to me as I feel the hairs crawling up my neck. Roman Agassi, you not only shamed your University, after all, that Journalism degree from Princeton buddy, is now officially a crock pot, so you might as well bury it with the rest of your oranges and apples in your backyard, because who knows, you may grow some, dare I say…credentials along the way. You allowed these deadbeats to once again appear in our homes? Next to our children’s Charles Dickens/William Faulkner collections where we expect to raise the bar with our future generations to come? I don’t know about the rest of America, but I don’t find someone who shows complete disgrace to the African American, Indian and Latino communities as “funny.” Is that funny to you Roman? Are you laughing at what makes this great country so great to begin with? The freedom to be united with one another regardless of creed, sex, or nationality, because I’m not laughing, I know America is not laughing. Look at me Roman, listen to me Ashoor Drama Group…WE…DON’T…WANT YOU BACK…You had your run in the 80’s…great…but your time is up, you retired twenty years ago, so drop it. Drop it before you tarnish whatever bit of legacy you had left. Roman, I say the same to you…don’t tarnish your legacy as well by reliving your childhood fantasy, drop it, move on from it, and we can sleep on it tonight and forget Entertainment Illustrated ever published your material in the first place. In closing, I would like to propose a toast to the 80’s…may it finally…rest in peace! Cheers! Listen up to Gavin Osborne, and who knows, it may due you a bit of good.”
The room suddenly got quiet as the look of shock on everyone’s face appeared to do the speaking for them.
“I’m going to kill him!” Salem screamed, ready to raise havoc on the entire world.
“Who are you going to kill,” replied Edmond, ducking for cover in case Salem was going to throw any foreign objects around.
“What do you mean who am I going to kill?” replied Salem in both his infuriate tone and a tone of confusion to go along with it.
“Didn’t you just hear what that dirty rotten snot nose punk just said about us?” he continued. “He’s going to pay! I promise he’s going to pay!”
“Look guys, Roman told us we were going to be famous after this, so, it appears that we are,” I said, trying my best to twist this tension into a positive affirmation.
“Obviously he said some things that were deemed as insults, but guys, come on, we can use this to our advantage you know?”
Eileen, Linda and Evelyn were in the kitchen gathering all the leftovers and cleaning all the dirty plates & silverware. It’s not a surprise to any of us that they decided to part ways with us during our spiel. Eileen is usually the positive one out of the entire family, but even she knew anyone who would disrespect the group, especially if they were celebrities themselves, ought to be ashamed of themselves. The kitchen seemed like the obvious choice of settings the women can enter without worrying about the group taking their frustrations out on them.
“Is the coast clear?” whispered Evelyn.
“Ummm, I think I see your husband carrying a chicken leg. I wonder if he’s going to use that as a weapon?” replied Linda, doing her best not to allow the group to see someone “stalking” them.
“Oh don’t worry about that,” said Evelyn. “He’s just saving that for when he comes home, although, if anyone can turn food into a cause for self defense it’s definitely my husband.”
Meanwhile, the group decides to take matters into their own hands, only this time, they mean war.
“Guys, listen, this whole article was intended for the sole purpose of our fans to know that we love and miss them,” I said. I have no idea where the perception of us making a comeback got mixed up into all of this.”
Ashoor was reading over the article once again to figure out what Gavin saw that we had not seen earlier.
“It’s simple,” Ashoor said. “In the last sentence you said:
““I always like to keep the hope; so with that I say never say never.”
Before the group wanted to John Wilkes Booth me I had to remind them that the only reason why I made the reference was because that is what you are supposed to say when you are retired. The group wasn’t having it.
“I’m not going to sit around and battle my friends,” Ashoor continued. “I say we have a lot of work to do. If Gavin wants to bring out the combativeness in us, then so be it. Let’s get to work.”
Who knew Ashoor was so vengeful. One thing I have always loved about Ashoor however, was his adoration for the group. He never allowed anyone to say a harsh thing about us; unless of course, you were a member of the group. He has always hated the media, ever since a news story broke about him allegedly gambling on his own Little League squad he used to manage for the heck of it back in '91; around the time the group had said their goodbyes to the world. The story turned out to be false and Ashoor had won a settlement against the Chicago Chronicle, though, his reputation was a bit tarnished after the allegations. If I were to want to pray for anyone more now than ever it would definitely be Gavin Osborne, the Ashoor Drama Group nemesis.
Meanwhile, after taking a hiatus from marriage life due to conflicting “work” schedules, I was able to finally relax with my lovely wife on New Years Eve. New Years Eve was a special time for Eileen and me. We not only were celebrating the end of another illustrious year, but we were also celebrating our thirty-one year wedding anniversary. Due to my financial constraints I wasn’t able to provide her with the diamond earrings every woman craves for their anniversary however, I was able to plan a very in-expensive & romantic evening for the night thanks in large part to, well, of who I am, quite frankly.
I have never really understood why for so many years people adored me. Sure, I took pride in what I did and I was always proud to perform skits and sing songs that did not necessarily hurt others but motivated them to become better people; unless of course, you consider, “Leh Beyin Bekhta,” or, “I Don’t Want a Wife,” to those who are unable to understand. The romantic evening started out at Mar Toma’s Diner in Champaign, IL, hence the title of the city. Sure, having a romantic evening at a church hall doesn’t sound too Casanova like, however, I always found ways to make the night fun regardless of the situation. My wife was very pleased with the setup. I had personally ordered a dozen roses for her that had been waiting on the table. The roses were given to me by a friend of mine who works at a floral shop. Apparently roses, if they haven’t sold in quite a while, usually get thrown away, depending on their appearance. Thankfully I was able to convince my friend to give them to me instead. This was definitely going to be my night.
“Wow Sam, I love this!” my wife gleamed from one ear to the next. “But, you know we can’t afford all this. How did you pull this one off?”
I had the group dressed up as waiters & chefs to make the night even more special. Edmond was waiting by the table and ready to push in our chairs once we had sat down.
“Edmond? What are you doing here?” my wife asked in a stunned, yet amused tone.
“Dinner is ready you two so can you please sit down?” Edmond asked in a bit of a distressed tone. “My feet have been killing me just waiting for you two to arrive.”
We sat down and enjoyed our evening together. I had Salem come out with the cake and Ashoor play the violin for us. Tonight was definitely the night of my life.
After dinner we made our way to Mikey Hasso’s New Year’s Party at the Naho Banquet. Everyone still dressed in their finest. It had been a while since I’ve danced Khigah so now was my time to shine once again. My wife and I ran into a couple of friends of ours from the past, whom we definitely didn’t remember what their names were. Usually in the Assyrian community you never address someone by their names; it gives the appearance of you knowing who they are and are very excited to see them.
We made our way into the circle we call, “Assyrian Line Dancing,” or, “Khigah.” I never understood why dancing in a circle was so entertaining, but judging from my wife’s expression, she was having a great time. I felt bad that I didn’t have to pay to get into the party. The person who was in charge of the door has a son in college. Apparently, Edmond is his teacher so thanks to my brother I was able to not have to worry once again about our financial insecurities. Little did I expect at the time what was going to transpire later in the evening; Bobby Womack, the half-Assyrian, half-Irish, film legend made a special guest appearance and headed for the stage.
“Um, can I have everyone’s attention please,” blurted Bobby. “Hi, for those who don’t know me I’m Bobby Womack. I have been in film for well over fifteen years. Not only have my movies been box office hits everywhere, but I have directed and produced music videos as well and have made a very good living at that too.”
I was wondering what on earth this Bobby was doing on stage. Unless there was another movie in the works he wanted advertised, and considering he is half Assyrian, he definitely has a great market to sway people into going to the cinema and watching his movies.
“Anyway, I did not come to Naho Banquet to speak of all of my accomplishments. I came because I knew someone would be here. I knew a certain legend, or legends, would have arrived to this party. Let’s just say I have my sources. So, will the following people please come up to the stage because I have something I would like to say to them:
Edmond Bahi, please come up to the stage. Homey Hermiz, please follow. Salem Hasamo, Ashoor Sargis, and last but not least, Samir Bahi, please come up to the stage.”
I had no idea what was going on and judging from the looks on the rest of the group’s faces, neither did they. We decided to go along for the ride just to see what was coming up next. I didn’t worry about any physical altercation because I knew Salem and Ashoor would knock anyone out if they just so happened to say things that were harmful to our reputation the way that scum Gavin Osborne had done most recently. I could see on my wife’s expression that she too was confused with what was going on. But, after the thirty one years she has been with me, she too had come to the conclusion that anyone associated with me was always full of surprises.
“Gentlemen, thank you for complying with me on this short notice. Everyone please listen up. I know recently there have been knocks on the Ashoor Drama Group by one, Gavin Osborne. It’s no secret that Gavin and I hadn’t seen eye to eye on a lot of things as well. I remember a time when he bashed my movie, “Scary Proof Syndrome” and called it a plagiarism of poor antiquity, resulting in movie studios not picking it up. On Wednesday, Gavin made the following statement about this particular Drama Group:
WE…DON’T…WANT YOU BACK…You had your run in the 80’s…great…but your time is up, you retired twenty years ago, so drop it.
Thanks to that very statement, I began to have a vision. The Ashoor Drama Group will always be beloved in our hearts. The Ashoor Drama Group, though, retired well over twenty years ago, I still believe, in my heart of hearts that the Ashoor Drama Group still has one more performance left in them.”
Everyone began cheering and clapping. I hadn’t heard that kind of ovation since our last performance at Arbella’s Arena. I do admit it was definitely a great feeling to hear the roar of the crowd. My heart yearned for such an ovation. I just didn’t understand what type of performance he was referring to? We hadn’t rehearsed in decades.
“Ladies and gentlemen, as you all know, Samir Bahi was recently attacked outside Legends at the Lazar, but Samir, if I know anyone to have the guts and have the courage that you have, I have yet to meet him. You, my friend, are a legend, and if you will agree to what I have to say then we can make it official here in front of all of our people, on New Years Eve, so that even our good friend Gavin Osborne can throw another tantrum and possibly have a heart attack if he knew that you would be back for one final performance. What do you guys say to that?”
I was very hesitant. I didn’t have a clue as to the type of performance he was referring to. I know the money would be great however, and I can possibly buy my wife those diamond earrings she so deserves, but I just didn’t have that gut feeling that told me to go ahead with it. Something had to be said on the issue.
“Mr. Womack,” I said. “I really appreciate you bringing us up here in front of a sell out crowd, kind of reminds us of the good ole’ days. Thank you for this. We certainly have been planning our own scheme to get Gavin back for the unlawful things he said about us, but we know we are much better than he is so we don’t allow his words to emotionally wound us for long, though, I do admit, it did take every ounce of me to hold Ashoor back from wanting to kill him.”
Everyone laughed. It felt good to bring out the comedic side of me once again.
“I guess, what I am trying to get at,” I continued. “Is, what exactly do you have planned for us? We haven’t practiced, or performed in a very long time.”
“I’m glad you asked, replied Mr. Womack confidently. “You see Sam, you wouldn’t even have to worry about practicing, you wouldn’t have to worry about what you will look like, you see guys, there’s going to be a first, something I have never even done before. I want to take all of your videos and remake them. Not only remake them, but remake them into CGI, also known as computer animation if you will. This way, all you would need to do is sing and we can have the group play the instruments; and I’ll take care of the rest. It’s fairly simple.”
“So, what you are trying to say basically is you want to turn us into cartoons?” I asked with a confused expression. Judging from the look on some of the group’s face, they weren’t really pleased with what Bobby Womack’s demands were.
“Well…yeah, something to that extent, yes,” he hesitantly replied.
“I’m sorry Mr. Womack, the answer is no.” I walked away in irony. I knew I was walking away from a lot of money on the table, but no one is more prideful in their work than I am. I would never allow anyone disfavor what Ashoor Warda created, never, not today, not tomorrow, never.
“Wait..no wait,” Homey suddenly grabbed the microphone from Mr. Womack. “Do we really need him? Guys, come on, we can still do this.”
The group did not seem pleased with what Homey’s demands were. Salem took the microphone from Homey and looked straight at Mr. Womack.
“Mr. Womack, and to the rest of the audience here tonight celebrating a new year, thank you for the offer, but the answer is no. There is no Ashoor Drama Group without the leader, and if Sam doesn’t agree to it, than neither do we.”
Mr. Womack looked confused as the rest of the group walked away from the stage to another loud ovation. Homey continued to try to convince Bobby Womack that he could do it all on his own but Bobby wasn’t having it. The night picked right back up where it left off as though we were never there in the first place. The countdown was on. I was distraught the rest of the evening ruining what would have been otherwise an amazing night. To have someone mock us, by wanting to turn us into cartoons the same way my agent Sargon wanted to disrespect Patel Odisho by putting clothes on me normally worn by paupers, I just wasn’t having it. The clock hit midnight, the New Year has officially begun, let’s hope it brings me new bliss, financial bliss that is.
RETRIEVING THE DECEIVING
The sun seems suddenly bright again as I made my way back into the work force. Thanks to knowing several people in somewhat high places I was able to land a job working for Trinity Security, a company owned and operated by my agent’s first cousin Ninos Dawid. Even though I still hold a grudge against Sargon for wanting to tarnish my legacy, I must say he did go out on a limb for me to land me a job despite my lack of experience in the Security industry. I’m not much of a fan of the hours I have to work; in security you are mostly on duty from midnight until about eight in the morning. I am currently monitoring a plant that supplies corn. The smell gets to me at times, and the pay isn’t what I had in mind for someone of my caliber and most importantly, someone in my age group. The only benefit I have working at this site is my ability to do a little writing along the way. I am currently in the works of writing my autobiography I have simply titled: “Why You Care?” The Samir Bahi story. It is a simple title that easily can grab the reader due to the song I named it after. Will the story sell? I am not the most certain, but what I am most certain of is I do have a story to tell and to whomever the story will be read by one can only hope they will be pleased. Back in the Bahi household things are beginning to look bright as ever once again.
After the shift change I was able to swing by home to catch Eileen before she headed off to work. It is simply remarkable how beautiful she is every time I see her. It’s as though I am meeting her once again for the very first time.
“Did you watch the news today?” Eileen asked curiously.
“Unfortunately not considering I just walked into the door from a long day at work,” I remarked half jokingly.
“I was able to tivo it for you. You might take special interest in it. Anyway, off to work I go.”
Eileen ceased her way to work without giving me any explanation what so ever as to what I would find a special interest in the news for this morning. The curiosity was overwhelming enough for me to skip my nap to keep me glued to the television set.
“Listen Up to Gavin Osborne”
“Welcome to the new year. I’m your host Gavin Osborne. Yes, the same Gavin Osborne who critics claimed was a forgone conclusion I would be out of a job within a year that, of course was fifteen years ago, and in any case, just like today I still stand strong, I still look good, and I still want to make your life a living hell, if of course, you allow me to. Speaking of living hell..I said, speaking of living hell it brings me back to stories even I had cerebrated and concluded was a mere afterthought; that of course is the tragic life and times of the Ashoor Drama Group. From the looks of things it appears the group’s mere contemplation of a comeback have been abandoned as a mere reflection of what their life is truly about: disaster. I’m getting word, I said, I’m getting word that one Samir Bahi, the self proclaimed, “King of Assyrian Comedy Pop” has been seen securing a corn plant for a security company. If you are following me on this story I am here to tell you that one Samir Bahi, whom for some odd reason most of you adore, has been spotted working a dead end job to try and support whatever legacy he has left and here to support my claim is former Ashoor Drama Group band member, and in my humble opinion, the definitive leader of the group Homey Hermiz. Homey has a few words for Mr. Comedy Pop Star as well as the rest of the group.
“I’m biased yet also very sincere in what I have to say about Samir Bahi,” Homey explains. “Now, I’ve known Sam for over twenty-five years,” Homey continues. “I have never met a bigger scam artist in my life than him. In fact, the entire Ashoor Drama Group is one big giant scam. In what way do I claim the group and its hero to be a scam you may wonder? It is quite simple. I, Homey Hermiz, can rightfully claim that it was I who was the true vocal leader of the group, meaning of course, it was I who sang every song on the album. I am indeed the real Patel Odisho, I am indeed the real Assyrian Michael Jackson, and I am indeed the real Shameeran.” Gavin interrupts.
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit Homey,” Gavin proceeds. “I appreciate you coming forthright and being honest about this horrific tragedy in American history today. While the crowds chanted Samir Bahi’s name all across the world it appears the entire world had been chanting the wrong individual’s name which is typical, but downright despicable. Next time entire world, entire America, entire Assyrian population listen up to Gavin Osborne, and who knows, it may do you a bit of good.”
I’m not sure what was more disgusting: The fact that I stayed up later than I should have to listen to this bologna or the fact that Homey claims to have been the singer and the poster child behind our success. Heck, even I wouldn’t stoop to that level. The reason for our success was because of Ashoor Warda, our founder, not me, not Homey, not Salem, not anyone. I find it absurd Homey would stoop this low even for his standards. I can see why Eileen wanted me to watch this not-so newsworthy piece of “fiction.” I guess it did do me a bit of good to have watched it. Like Ricky Ricardo would say; “Lucy, you have some explaining to do.”
The phone rings. I’m almost certain it’s either going to be Salem, who by now is probably already looking out to assassinate Homey Hermiz for his ridiculous annotations regarding yours truly and the rest of the group, or it could be Ashoor, who is probably also looking out to execute Homey by any means necessary. Instead, it was a voice I wasn’t familiar with.
“Hello,” I hesitantly answered.
“Yes, hello, may I speak with Samir Bahi please?” The male voice confidently replied.
“This is Sam.”
“Hello Samir, my name is Jake Miller, I’m the executive producer for a new reality television series called Competition vs. Tradition where music legends get one more shot against a new, up and coming music group trying to take your crown.”
“Look, I really appreciate the offer…”
“Samir, I am very sorry to interrupt. You have to understand something here. I’m not asking you, I’m demanding you do the show. I have been a fan of your work for as long as I can remember. Yet, I have never seen so much ridicule towards the drama group until today. It seems as though you have no choice and you must defend your legacy before Gavin Osborne and guys like him unnecessarily take it all away, and this time, for good.”
I hated to admit it but he was right. I felt like Brett Favre coming out of retirement again for the third, fourth time. Apparently, this time, compared to those other times I was approached with a comeback, is the right time so I agreed to it, however, one condition.
“I will agree to this but you would have to be living under a rock to figure out Homey Hermiz has been rightfully terminated from the group which leaves me one group member short. I get to decide who I want as a replacement. I want you to help me set up a nation wide search for this replacement and then you will have your deal.”
I figured he would have slammed the phone down so hard it would have came popping through my side, but to my surprise and liking, that did not happen.
“I agree Sam. I believe this will give you more hype coming into the show which means better numbers for us. When can we meet to discuss this in further detail?”
“You are going to have to come over to my place and discuss this with me and the rest of the group. See you tomorrow around noon perhaps? I’m pretty sure you know where I live.”
I have been jumped, ridiculed, falsified a comeback which allowed my household to be on public display like that of Graceland.
“I sure do Samir. I will see you tomorrow noon. And before I leave..”
“Yes?” I muddled.
“Let’s get those sons of…” He paused.
“I agree Jeff.”
The phone on the other end seemed roughly quiet with the exception of the dial tone girdling in my ear.
For the first time in a long time I finally felt those famous butterflies that make every artist aspire to do what they do. I believe these sensations are a God-given ability of mine that drive me to go the extra mile to overcome every obstacle I have ever had to face my entire life. I may not be sure what Ashoor Warda may be thinking of me now making this somewhat stagnant comeback that I tried so desperately to put away, but I do feel, especially with everything that has been going on lately, that my legacy could be tarnished forever if I don’t stand up again and remind everyone what made the entire Ashoor Drama Group great to begin with. I’m not sure what Homey was thinking, but I know what I’m thinking: comeback.
We all agreed upon the group reforming under new guidance from another member. This member we were going to search for was going to have to be someone we could trust, rely upon to make every practice and one who has a historical understanding of the Ashoor Drama Group from its genesis up until today. After meeting with Jake Miller and the rest of the group I went over to Gardado’s Park to ponder the concept of us officially coming back. What would be even more crucial is this time we would be coming back without one of the original members, and one I thought was a close friend, Homey Hermiz. Deep down I had a feeling a day like this would have come. Although, I assumed it would have come years sooner, apparently today became that right time. Normally, I am pretty good with visioning my future, today the future is clouded. It feels right to comeback in front of a nationwide audience however, am I doing it because I want to? Am I doing it because I miss performing? Or, am I simply doing it to prove a point. To prove I still am who I say I am. I’m not sure who believed Homey’s story outside of Homey and perhaps Gavin himself. Regardless of the who’s or the what’s or the what could be, I’ve been apparently voicing my displeasure loud enough where others are staring at me and wondering why I have not been checked into a psychological rehab facility to say by now.
“Is that Samir Bahi?” A little boy whispered to his friend while flicking a rock with his slingshot and accidentally aiming at his friend’s leg due to distraction.
“Hey, it is!” Ignoring the pain his leg felt after seeing me stroll by the other young boy made his way towards me hobbling on one good leg, apparently feeling the effects of a rock.
“Excuse me sir,” replied the young fellow. “But, um, are you..well…my friend said you are…um
“Samir Bahi,” I kindly interrupted. “Yes..I guess I am him!”
“Ok.” The young fellow shied away with his other young friend. As they approached further walking distance they couldn’t help but stare right back at me as though I was some national monument. At times, I definitely felt like an old monument. It was nice to know that children still look up to you even after all these years.
As I began finishing my stroll through the park I received a text message from Jake:
“HEY SAMIR, HOPE ALL IS WELL. GROUP MEMBER SEARCH CANCELLED. WILL EXPLAIN LATER. THANKS.”
I had a feeling this was going to happen. I had come up with a backup plan just in case this idea of having a show based on finding another member of the group died down and that was to simply not replace Homey at all. There’s an old saying: “The show must go on.” The show will go on indeed with or without another member. We have enough members on the group staff that can get the job done no doubt about that. We have never tried but considering there’s been a first already in Ashoor Drama Group history why not continue this new tradition?
Eileen and I came up with a new, un-healthy tradition before I would head off to work. Around ten o’clock we would sit down to have popcorn and reflect on our day. She would normally complain about a customer not appreciating enough what she does and then I would grief about the upcoming show and how during rehearsals we would all sound off tune and how, quite frankly, we would show our age. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain run down my lower back. It felt as though someone took a nail and a hammer and decided to display a portrait on my lower back. I knew something was wrong. I asked Eileen to drive me down to the doctors to see what was going on in my back.
“It’s probably just old age,” Eileen joked. She would be the only person I would allow to joke at a time like this. I tried hard not to laugh and even when I did it hurt that much more.
“Just get the car and take me to the hospital.”
We drove down to the local Memorial Hospital where about eighty percent of the folks inside the facility were African American. The employees of the hospital seemed strangely distant from me as someone with a guilty conscious. One of the southern African American nurses viewed my discomfort.
“Mr. Bahi,” the Nurse sadly approached me. “It pains me to see yah. I laud your work for as long as I can remembah yah hear? Now yah battered, and scarred. I feel pity.”
I appreciated the hospitality. The tone in her voice gave me an impression that I was dying which definitely was not the case.
“Miss,” I slowly pulled forward. “I appreciate your love and support of my work over the years, and I can assure you that you have not seen the last of me nor the group, however, I’m only in here because I believe I may have pulled a muscle in my lower back. Can you please have a doctor check it out for me?”
“Oh,” the nurse distressed. “Then you done gone from hear. I ah get you that Doctor, yah hear? You just wait just this second.”
As Eileen and I made our way into the doctor’s office I was afraid to hear the news that every individual dreads to hear.
“Sam, I’m afraid you’re going to have to start dieting,” the Doctor noted. “It appears your lower back strain is due to your over indulgence on foods with high fat and high cholesterol. It’s going to have to change today or your career, and quite frankly your life may not be too much longer here on this earth so you either sign up for a gym or go out exercising on your own. However way you look at it, it’s going to have to begin immediately.
I called off work for the day considering there was going to be no way I could work in the excruciating pain I was in today. Lord knows how much longer this is going to last for.
It is good to have a personal trainer for a friend. With Salem’s no tolerance for defeat and high tolerance for pain it seemed like the perfect match for him to get me back into shape. It will also help us gather our thoughts for what we have planned for the upcoming show. Salem would get me started jogging for ten minutes on his treadmill, which would be an equivalent to running a mile. We began with this routine for the first week until I was ready to lift weights again. I would have moments where I wanted to give up however, considering the torment I have been going through as of late I felt this was the exact right time to push harder and fight the good fight. I began receiving phone calls from my agent Sargon, as well as my brother Edmond for their support and reminding me what I have been going through and what challenges lie ahead.
“Come on Sammy my boy! You make me proud Sammy! You make me proud!” Sargon’s words of encouragement would continue to echo through my mind as I would run faster and lift heavier. I knew the stage that was set before me and I knew the obstacles that had come my way. Through the intense workouts with Salem, and continuous encouragement from all of my loved ones, I felt more ready to shine than ever. I felt the way I felt when we started this Ashoor Drama Group revolution. The world is about to experience the return of a dynasty, the return of the Ashoor Drama Group, less weight, literally, and more to gain.
“Samir, you must relax,” Jake Miller’s words echo through the halls of Stage 2 of Universal Studios. It seemed as though Ashoor Warda was speaking through him, almost as though I saw Ashoor there for a split second. I realize I must be hallucinating.
“Breathe in and out Sam, you’re going to do great.”
“Come on Sam, it’s going to be fine. Even Shakespeare became nervous before his plays were performed,” whispered Edmond, trying to relieve my tension.
There was no reason William Shakespeare’s name should have been mentioned in this scenario, but that was my brother for ya and that’s exactly what I always loved about him.
Just before we were ready to head out to the stage there seemed to be a shadow, one heavy set shadow lurking amongst the locker room area. It was none other than Homey Hermiz.
“Get out of here you sell out,” Screamed Ashoor.
“Off with his head,” Yelled Edmond.
“I’m going to kill you,” Salem threatened.
“I’ve missed you!” I lovingly yelled, much to the surprise of the rest of the group.
“Sam, you can’t be serious,” a confused Ashoor replied. “You heard the horrible things he said about you and about us in front of the world. He don’t deserve to be around us, in our presence anymore.”
“Like Brutus, who sold out his good friend Julius Caesar, he belongs not amongst our presence,” Edmond said.
“Homey, what is going on? What exactly are you doing here?” I curiously asked, trying desperately to calm down a mere intense situation.
“I’ll tell you what he’s doing here. He always wanted to be on the national stage, even selling out a good man here, and now he expects us to accept his presence here with us? Just seeing him makes me sick.” Salem was definitely never a loss for words.
“Guys, I know none of you want to see me right now,” a sorrowful Homey replied. “But, you have to believe me when I say that I am truly, truly sorry from the bottom of my big heart. You see, I was promised a lot of money from Gavin, because, yes, I wanted the notoriety but was also promised a large amount of cash if I make up the lies about Sam and the rest of you guys. At first I was opposed to it, but he promised he’d get my kid in college, how could I say no to my kid going to college? I then realized what wrong I was doing, I realized Gavin was a crook and apparently he was connected with Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme so now he too is serving time in federal prison so you definitely won’t have to worry about hearing his threats on television any longer. Sam, guys, please..forgive me.
“I’m not one to judge,” I replied. “After all, I was going to priesthood before I met all of you. Homey, I am definitely disappointed in you, but I definitely cannot say I blame you. In my eyes you are always going to be a member of the Ashoor Drama Group. If this is the final curtain call, so be it. I’m not going down without a fight and I know I cannot do it without having every member here with me that started it all. So, let’s just forgive and forget and go out there and show the world what we still are capable of.”
The rest of the guys had no choice but to accept Homey’s apology. Each one of them realized the flaws that they had and yet they too were forgiven so who would they be not to forgive and forget?
We did quite well on the show however, we came up just short. The younger, raunchier group, the “Kook Kounty Posse” (KKP) as they liked to be referred to as, edged us out and they went on to win and eliminate the Ashoor Drama Group from competition once and for all.
What I enjoyed most about this competition was the introduction we received. The entire crowd chanted our name one last time. We even had a video tribute to honor our legacy. It was definitely the right way to go out. It felt great to perform one last time and have the entire group there to celebrate our accomplishment despite not winning the event.
Backstage we were greeted by Entertainment Illustrated writer Roman Agasi, our agent Sargon Dawid, my beautiful wife Eileen and Jake Miller who all cheered for us as we came back to the locker room. We didn’t win the race but we sure ran it, ran it hard we did.
“Sammy my boy, you did great my boy,” proudly yelled Sargon. “I have an announcement to make so you ought to listen up. First off, I wanted to let all of you know how proud I am of each and everyone of you. Despite the odds that were against you, against your life, against everything you guys have fought for you hung in there, like brothers, and brothers stick together no matter what. No matter how many times you fall, you get back up. All of you are like my sons and I love ya, I love ya all. The news I received a couple of minutes ago brought a lot of tears in my eyes but brings me great joy and great honor to announce that the committee to the Assyrian Music Hall of Fame would like to induct the Ashoor Drama Group into the 2011 Assyrian Music Hall of Fame. How do ya like that for news?”
Everyone in the locker room was silent. We all began sobbing together. I began sobbing because it reminded me of how hard we had worked our entire life to get to where we were at today and I can see Ashoor Warda smiling down on us, proud. Salem and Ashoor sobbed raising one another’s hand as though they were pro wrestling tag team partners winning a match and Edmond was crying because we all were crying and it was just fitting to do so. Regardless, we were excited of the news that we had been waiting to hear practically our entire entertainment career life. The Ashoor Drama Group is officially Hall of Famers, finally!
The legacy of the Ashoor Drama Group has finally been complete. It was great to hear the roar of the crowd chanting our names one final time; Drama Group! Drama Group! Drama Group! Arbella’s Arena was the place we had performed our final show, yet it was also the Arena that allowed the group to be enshrined into the Assyrian Music Hall of Fame. Thanking everybody from my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to my amazing parents, Doris and Jajika Bahi, to my three wonderful children, Paul, Peter and George. My wife Eileen, who put up with me and the rest of the group, and my time away from home, I love you and thank you. My grandchildren Amo and Mary, my daughters in law Silva and Nancy, to my composer Ashoor Baba, to everyone who has helped us throughout all of our existence: Johnson Odisho, Alfred Mirza, Raymond Todd, makeup artist: Linda Bahi, everyone in Chicago I had forgotten to mention. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. The Ashoor Drama Group would not have been in existence if it weren’t for you, the fans, who continue to support us even though we have been long gone and our videos are only played on VHS.
I could easily sit here and write another novel with all the people I want to thank and for all the years you have invested in me. It is you that continue to keep me alive today and for that I am ever grateful.
By: Peter Bahi
I realized my dream of becoming a writer when I was two years old. I would cry and cry that much more when dad wouldn’t give me the attention I needed for a two year old at the time. What was my dad doing that was taking his time away from his middle child you ask? Dad was penning the next great Assyrian classic of course! Every time dad rehearsed, I was there. Every time he performed, I was there. I always begged him to put me in one of his videos but to no avail. Years passed, no luck, until finally, at the ripe age of seven. I was blessed to be in daddy’s video: “Say No to Drugs.” I realize I made a complete fool of myself after dropping so many passes that were thrown my way but I did not care, I was with my dad and I had a blast doing so! To be around creativity your entire life eventually it is going to rub off on you and you too will want to get in on the act.
The Ashoor Drama Group was supposed to have a Curtain Call on their own: it was not supposed to be me to write the end of their story: they were supposed to. On June 3rd, 1997 my dad had a stroke that normally would take the life of any “normal” human being. However, as we are all aware of my dad’s creative history, he was not a normal dude. Unfortunately due to his stroke it had caused him to, per se, “retire” early. So, as my dream to become an author grew as the years went by, I knew it was God’s calling for me to finish the story and therefore leave a lasting impression the Ashoor Drama Group so rightfully deserves. Whether or not the Ashoor Drama Group, including my father, approve of this novel, I am not sure, but what I am sure of is that the story needed to be complete and now that it is I hope and pray the Ashoor Drama Group’s legacy will finally be cemented and never forgotten.
This entire story, like my entire life is dedicated to Jesus Christ. The same way He raised Lazarus from the dead He was able to do the same for my father. Because of Jesus Christ today my life has purpose. If you are not sure of the miracles Jesus Christ has done just look at what he did for my father. Doctors said he only had twenty four to forty eight hours to live and today he is alive and well.
After you put this book down reflect on what the Ashoor Drama Group meant in your life. What was the one song that grabbed you the most? Did you ever go watch one of their live plays? If so, what was your favorite moment? I hope and I pray after reading this book you will eventually go back inside your garages, dig deep into one of your old boxes filled with cob webs and dust off the old Ashoor Drama Group volumes one, two and three tapes. Look for that old VCR you hopefully still have in storage, connect it to your television and watch the Ashoor Drama Group at its finest.
About the Author
Peter Bahi is best known as being the son of Assyrian music legend Samir Bahi. He is currently pursuing his Bachelors of Science Degree in Liberal Studies. He and his wife Nancy reside in Modesto, California.
Ashoor Drama Group - Say No To Drugs
Ashoor Drama Group - Alap Beet - Alphabet Song
Ashoor Drama Group - Ana Le Buyin Bakhta
Ashoor Drama Group - Why You Care
Ashoor Drama Group - Chee Bayennakh