But because there's so much weirdness, most people just ignore it. Even when I walk around in my full Teddy Roosevelt getup, nobody ever says anything.
It's different, I've learned, when you carry a sousaphone.
My new old horn doesn't have a case, so I have to just carry it on my shoulder wherever I'm going. And that gets a lot of looks.
The first time I took it on the subway was the day I was heading to J. Landress Brass to get it looked at the first time. I worked from home that morning so I could get a mostly empty train into the city, and I'm glad I did. It was nice to have a seat the whole way in, and to be able to rest the horn between my legs.
It wasn't an entirely empty train though. Before we even left my station, a middle aged woman sat down next to me. Almost all the other seats were open, but she sidled right up to me. "What's that called?" she asked, seemingly unaware that I was putting my headphones on.
"Wow! Where's it from? When was it made? What's it made of? How'd you get it? Do you play? What do you play? When are you playing next?" She peppered me with questions for about three stops before pulling out her phone and taking some pictures. Did she ask about taking pictures? Of course not, but it didn't stop her from snapping away.
She got off at the last stop in Brooklyn, and within seconds a guy sat across from me. "Nice horn," he said. At least he left me alone the rest of the ride.
Standing on 36th Street, looking for Landress, an older guy approached me. "Why are you wearing that thing?" I looked at him. "Oh, I bet it's easier to carry that way." "Yup." He walked away.
Then, just yesterday, I went to Landress to pick up the horn. They close at 7pm, which is still rush hour, so I needed to find a place to kill some time before I could actually get on a train. I walked about five blocks south to a coffee shop. On the way there, I watched at least six people see me, go wide-eyed, point, and pull out their phones to take a photo. (But I can never find those pictures online! If you're going to take pictures of me, at least post them somewhere I can find them!)
At the coffee shop, I put the horn down on the bench in the window, and sat down to do some work. Looking out the window, it was really uplifting to see people notice the sousaphone in the coffee shop. They'd make look at the horn, smile, and then usually look up at me. Always feels good to liven up somebody's day.