Opinion: We have a new bass in the house
I am the father of a girl who will be 13 on her next birthday. That is enough to garner sympathy from many of you, for which I am grateful. But there’s more.
I am also the father of a girl who is obsessed with The Beatles and has decided she wants to play the electric bass guitar, and who further has an indulgent godfather who also happens to own a guitar shop, and … well, you can probably figure it out.
Yes, we have a new bass in the house.
And we have a father — me — marveling at how the acorn did not fall far from the tree. Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for 1966 and the home of the Redmond family, where middle child Mike is obsessed with The Beatles and has decided he wants to play the electric bass guitar.
We come in as the following in-depth conversation is taking place…
Mike: Mom, can I have a bass guitar?
Which pretty much brings things to a close, for now. Mike, you see, does not have an indulgent godfather with a guitar shop.
He does, however, have a father who seems to understand, at least a little, what’s going on here. Said father indulged his son when said son wanted a cheapo plastic ukulele, which father soon commandeered and learned to play. Said son was further indulged when he wanted a cheapo plastic guitar and father, perhaps feeling a tad guilty over the ukulele-commandeering thing, acquiesced. And so son takes another stab during dinner…
Mike: Dad, can I have a bass guitar?
This is a setback. Obviously these parents don’t understand that there’s a career plan at work here, a carefully-created strategy which will result in Mike becoming a rock and roll star. Parents. They’re hopeless.
Or are they? For after months of watching their son moon over the guitars in the catalogs; after seeing him spend countless hours staring in the front window of the music store where the guitars hang from the walls in tantalizing rows; after hearing him play Beatles music by the hour on the family hi-fi (note to you kids: Hi-fi was what we had before we had stereos, which are what we had before we got whatever it is you listen to now)…
The parents relent at birthday time and Mike gets his bass guitar — a Silvertone, from Sears (Dad’s favorite place to shop). He also gets an admonition that he had better learn to play the (blankety-blank) thing or there will be you-know-what to pay.
Which gets me back to the present day. The daughter in question has a habit of becoming keenly interested in things right up until the time as she acquires them, at which point they begin collecting dust. A violin, a ukulele and a guitar will attest to that.
But this time seems different. There’s the Beatles music, for starters. She’s listening intently to Paul McCartney’s bass lines, trying to figure out what he’s doing and reproduce it on her own bass. Right up until bedtime every night, in fact, you can hear the soft thump of bass notes emanating from her room.
Yes, I said soft. She has an electric bass but I didn’t let her get an amplifier.
It’s the same trick my parents pulled. As I said, the acorn didn’t fall far from the tree.