So my 8-year-old son wants a tuba.
This is unusual for a number of reasons, the first of which is that not many people outside of the Roots, New Orleans natives or aspiring back-pain sufferers decide at the age of 8 that they want a tuba. There is also the matter that prior to 36 hours ago I had no idea the 8-year-old could identify the tuba out of a lineup consisting of one tuba and six baseball players, let alone announce that he wanted one with the kind of authoritative third-grade sureness he usually saves for luxuriously priced Legos, the watching of "MythBusters" or slow-rolling his eyes when I tell him to brush his teeth for real, and not just chew on the bristles for 20 seconds.
This is what I like about 8-year-olds: Flitting, volatile images and activities are constantly colliding for space in their brains, like atoms banging around some complex and yet-fully-formed molecule. Many of these ideas fly off into space, never to be heard from again, like the time we tried baseball (boring) or his brief interest in his school-project mealworms, which was not something I was sad to see evaporate, as mealworms turn into beetles and I have a pretty strict limit on the amount of beetles I purposefully invite into the house. I vaguely recall having this ability — not only the time but also the focus to discover something and throw myself into investigating it — but I'm pretty I expended most of mine on the collection and nomenclature of minor "Star Wars" bounty hunters and a not-inconsiderable interest in professional wrestling, which has really paid off on a professional level, let me tell you.
So that the tuba is 1. Something that exists in real life, and 2. Could increase the amount of second-line music in my home are two notches in the "explore further" column. Moreover, it's been about three days and the tuba molecules have yet to dissipate, which means we've gone from entry-level interest to asking Siri where to buy a tuba in South Carolina. ("Not many places, Jeff. Are you sure you weren't asking about grain alcohol or obstructionist senators?")
Now here is a thing that you may not know about tubas, which, if you are like me, will settle in among All The Other Things You Do Not Know About Tubas, which include such facts as:
1. They're not French horns, I guess?
2. If stretched out they measure 16 feet long, according to this sudden maniacal tubacentric spongebrain who can easily remember the lengths of truck-sized brass instruments but not the directive to actually connect the brush with his front teeth.
3. Where to find a nice former marching-band person who has a tuba in his basement he's willing to loan to your son for free.
Page 2 of 2 - This last one is especially key, as it turns out there's not exactly a wealth of tuba vendors here in my coastal Carolina homeland (I know, right? If you are a budding entrepreneur with a warehouse full of surplus tubas boy have I got the wide-open market for you).
This leads me directly to the Internet, which, surprisingly, is not wanting for tuba-related information, all of which I ignore en route to seeking out the potential tuba price tag, which is right around $2,000 or thereabouts. That's three zeroes, or, in relative terms, the price of about 400 recorders or 8,000 kazoos, all of which I'd be equally enthusiastic about hearing practiced in my house.
(Googling tuba stuff, incidentally, has also provided news about a rash of tuba thefts at Los Angeles high schools, a drone doom-metal tuba band and Uke Skywalker and Tuba Fett, who bill themselves as "Pittsburgh's Finest Ukulele/Tuba Duo," and I, for one, am not going to challenge them.)
So my plan, at least for now, is this: Distract with Legos and "MythBusters." The tuba, I'm afraid, is both an exorbitantly priced interest and a possible gateway to polka. On the other hand, who knows? Maybe that's not fair, maybe I'm housing the world's next Tuba Fett and I don't even know it. Maybe we'll look further. Watch your back, Pittsburgh.
Jeff Vrabel was partial to Bossk and Dengar. He can be reached at http://jeffvrabel.com and followed at http://twitter.com/jeffvrabel.