Over the weekend, Junior — an avid young tubaist (Tubadour? Tuba Wrangler?) — was reading one of the online tuba forums (yes, they exist) and discovered that he'd been lax in bathing his tuba. No, that's not a euphemism for something unprintable. It's apparently a real thing. A couple of times a year, you're apparently supposed to strip your tuba down to its component parts, run a tub of lukewarm water — not hot, no never! — suds it up with some very gentle soap, and treat your horn to a relaxing spa day, replete with polishing and a warm oil massage at all its joints. At first, Junior was adamant that we should make a special trip to the store for some Ivory soap just like they said online, but Spouse happened to have a bottle of Dr. Bronner's castile soap — the stuff with all the tiny, crazy writing about The Book of Revelations on the label. If it's good enough to help spread The Word of The Almighty, Junior's Old Man told him, it oughta be good enough for a dirty tuba.
While bathing a tuba is not the weirdest thing we've ever done, it is the weirdest thing we can mention in a public forum. Junior gently placed Ol' Beatrix in the bottom of the bathtub and we opened the taps. Then we stood back, the pair of us filling our phone-booth-sized bungalow bathroom, and watched the water slowly creep into the thicket of brass tubes, The Observer 38 years, three months and 28 days old for the only time we will ever be in our life, Junior 12 years 11 months and 11 days old for the only time he will ever be in his life. And oh, don't these fragile, odd, beautiful, heartbreakingly lovely lives of ours slip away so quickly, especially if you don't pay attention on the day you and your son bathe a tuba?
"Remember this moment," we thought, as the gleaming bell slowly disappeared into the water like the prow of Captain Nemo's submarine, "because you're going to want it back someday."
These moments continue into one's child's approaching adulthood. The Observer and daughter, 21, were walking slowly by masterpieces in a museum when we came across Rubens' "The Judgment of Paris." The Observer couldn't remember the story but the child did and insisted that she learned it at The Observer's knee. You know, the Trojan Paris — on Mount Ida, by the way — offering the golden apple to Aphrodite for her beauty and winning the Grecian Helen, who happened to be another man's wife. Hence the Trojan War. Well, The Observer couldn't remember anything but the fake horse part of the story, yet the child insisted and insisted that it was her wise and brilliant parent that taught her the myth. Was the wise and brilliant parent really losing her mind?
Then, in the middle of the next gallery, the daughter stopped in her tracks. It wasn't The Observer after all who passed on the knowledge! It was Wishbone, the dog, in the TV series of the same name that ran during the daughter's elementary school years, who dressed up as heroes in classic tales. Suddenly, she remembered a decked-out Jack Russell terrier, the golden apple in its mouth, barking at Aphrodite. The "child" was relieved The Observer had not forgotten a tender moment of teaching after all. The Observer, more relieved than the daughter, heehawed far more loudly than is appropriate in a museum.
When it comes to yard work, The Observer is a bit of a procrastinator. This goes double for raking, an undertaking that is, in our humble opinion, just a notch above painful dental surgery on the unpleasantness scale. That said, we've always found leaf blowers — the modern-day answer to the humble rake — to be one of the most obnoxious of all gas-powered machines. After all, the idea of burning gasoline simply to blow some leaves around and thus make them someone else's problem seems like a wasteful, bordering on brain-dead, way to deal with the relatively uncomplicated problem of leaves.
But the other afternoon, we got home from work to find that someone had used a leaf blower to round up all the dead foliage from the many nooks and crannies of our backyard into one enormous pile. We honestly have no clue who might have done this. But regardless, we swallowed our anti-leaf blower bias and got out the rake and the trash can, thankful to that anonymous helper for shaving an hour or so off of our afternoon chores.
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Thank you for telling this story.