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  • (Tuba)

    The kids in band class who choose the tuba must be verging on insecurity, insanity, and reverse introversion. Like the irony of giant men in Volkswagen Beetles, they always seem to be tiny guys or gals, hardly able to lift the case, let alone the instrument and the case. That’s what parents are for. On one hand, you’ve given yourself this insane lug-around monstrosity, and on another you’re some nutcase attention-seeker, listening for some offbeat audience comment between songs: “Look at the size of the tuba player. She could fit inside it, I bet.” More rational people choose flutes.

    Mom was awestruck when you came home and told her. From her best bogus motherly love musterable, she said, “Isn’t that wonderful?” all the while thinking, “Darn it! Now I have to buy a new car … and listen to that thing braying!”

    So when the practising started, a slow migration ensued, starting from right near the kitchen, then to the basement, to the cold room in the basement, and finally to outside in the garage. She always came up with some excuse, “I’ve heard that tubas like cold air. The sound is smoother.” Occasionally she’d slip up and tell you it was bothering your father even though he wasn’t home from work. But no point arguing, because beyond the garage was the back yard or the neighbourhood park. The garage had walls to stop the Canadian wind. One trivial bit you learned was that frozen spittle altered the tones.

    At the end of the year, not having practised nearly enough, you gave it up. “I don’t like the tuba, Teacher. It doesn’t suit my personality.” Teacher looked oddly relieved, but you couldn’t figure it out. Maybe she was tired and ready for summer. Band camp had been an ordeal.

    Next fall Mom put you in Band again, mostly because she knew it was something you could pass, as nobody ever failed Band. “Are you playing tuba again?” she asked with a suspiciously hopeful voice.
    “Nope. This year I have drums.”