Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"The tuba player is normally a stocky, bearded guy whose hobby is plumbing...

...The only member of the orchestra who bowls over 250 and gets his deer every year and changes his own oil. In his locker downstairs, he keeps a pair of lederhosen for free-lance jobs. Anyway, there's only one tuba in the bunch and he's it."

Garrison Keillor, from A Young Lutheran's Guide to the Orchestra

When I think of things I loved in my childhood, there's a big bearded guy playing a tuba on a bench in the middle of the Center grounds. The lights near the Fountain soften the darkness, and I follow my dad's long legs into the arena while the tuba strains follow us into the game.

I'll forever associate those tuba sounds with the game of basketball, which I could watch anytime, anyplace. Kids, professionals, pick-up games, doesn't matter who or where. I love watching the swirl of the ball sailing across the court, a perfect pass, a hard-fought basket. I love that it lets individuals shine but only works well if all team members play in sync. I love how fast it is, and fierce, and graceful.

I grew up tagging after my dad and brothers to Sonics games. First at the kingdome, then the Coliseum, then the Tacoma Dome, then at the Key. And every time, there'd be Ed the tuba man, playing his repertoire of tuba songs. I hear Kevin Callaboro announcing plays, I hear fans cheering for Payton. I hear the sound of sneakers against the court, the basketball hitting the backboard, and before and after it all, I hear the strains of tuba music lingering.

Kathleen Norris remarked in Dakota that she lived in a place where one person's death still matters, that the community was impacted by even just one person's leaving.

I'm glad the media is covering his death, that in this city, his life mattered.


Kaitlin said...

that is so sad.

LKT said...

In my house we had our own name for Tuba Guy. My dad lovingly referred to him as "The Burrito Concerto" because, well, of all the instruments in the orchestra, the Tuba sounds the most flatulent. I'm glad the media covered his death too. I remember as a little girl, walking to the Kingdome and seeing him playing outside. Mariners games won't be the same without you, Tuba Guy.