Finding Common Interests (aka Ukulele Power)

One of the interesting things about my relationship with the Mrs. is that we don’t really share a lot of interests. Our taste in music and movies make a Venn diagram with a very small overlap. Reading preferences are different. Even what we want to do on a trip to Disneyland doesn’t really line up. For the record, she likes the shows and I am more of a roller coaster guy.

Despite all those differences, we find areas that we both like. We are both suckers for animal documentaries and nice aquariums or zoos. She is starting to come around on the awesomeness of movies like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. I’m slowly starting to appreciate more subdued, or sappari, flavors when it comes time to chose a restaurant. And, even with our different lines of interest we have surprisingly similar senses of humor and our conversation rhythms sync up quite nicely. After eight years of being in a relationship we haven’t run out of things to discuss and yet we can still sit comfortably together in silence.

But sometimes you want to do things as a couple. And that can still prove to be a bit of a challenge with our different interests. But we’ve found another area we can overlap. The ukulele.

I’ve had an off and on again relationship with the bass guitar. I started in junior high school. Played heavily in high school and sort of let in slide in college. I did pick up the mandolin at that time, but couldn’t afford to keep replacing the constantly breaking strings. Because I was in college and if you aren’t poor in college, well, I just don’t know what to say.

I came to Japan not knowing how long I would be here. I got a crappy acoustic guitar, but the guitar has never felt like it fit. So, I just stopped playing music. Several years passed. I got the itch. I picked up a cheap ukulele. It seemed like it would be fun. And it was. Except for where I wrote it was a cheap ukulele, I should have written “shitty”. I was such a piece of crap that anything past the second fret sounded out of tune. I put down the ukulele, not wanting to spend money for a better one. 

And then I did. And it was fun. 

As for the Mrs., she grew up playing music, but mostly horns. She never played anything with strings and hasn’t really played anything since high school. But for whatever reason, she liked the sound of my strumming on the ukulele. For the past several months she has toyed with the idea of picking one up. I took her to a little shop I know that specializes in ukuleles so she could try some out. She was not planning on buying one. 

But, of course, she did. How could she not? It has such a happy, friendly little sound. And it is something we can do together. 

In the week since we bought hers we’ve managed to have two practice sessions together. I’ve been trying to teach some of the basics. I would never claim to be a great player. I probably don’t yet even merit the “good” label. But years of playing stringed instruments does give me a bit of an advantage. And I like seeing her get better and learning new chords. Training her fingers to make a clear sound, and when she gets it, I can see the happiness.

We’re hoping to be able to play a few songs together. That might take a while. Both of us have busy schedules. But it is nice to have one more thing we can do together. That this is something we will be able to share with our little boy makes it even better.


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