Be careful what you wish for — out loud, that is.

Case in point: It's been a small aspiration of mine since I was a wee lad to play the accordion. (Stop laughing.)

I don't know where that started — my parents leaned more toward Barry Manilow than Frankie Yankovic — but I've kept it quiet and tucked away for years.

Fast-forward to the present, when I mumbled out loud about my somewhat intangible dream in a work-planning meeting, of all places, only to have my boss pencil it in as an upcoming article before I had any chance to dispute it.

Me and my big mouth.

There are actually a handful of accordion teachers in the Yellow Pages, much to my surprise. I picked an instructor by the name of Larry Pino.

After he returned my message, making reference to the accordion as "God's instrument," I knew I'd made the right choice. He scheduled me into his already filled schedule of 30 or so students, and we were on our way.

Scheduling was the easy part. Waiting out the week or so until I actually held a squeezebox in my hands was something I had a harder time imagining.

Polka bands are few, but some, like Texas-based Brave Combo, have had reasonable success offering their own versions of standards and enjoyable originals — the band snatched a Grammy last month.

I figured I'd come off more akin to "Weird" Al Yankovic, who recorded his first single in his bathroom ("My Bologna," a parody of The Knack's "My Sharona"), just himself and the accordion.

But with the assignment due in less than a week and an oddly morbid curiosity breathing life into my dream, I drove to Mr. Pino's studio in Holladay . . . albeit with few expectations. Two years of piano lessons hadn't gotten me very far in the musical arena, and I'd only had limited success on the self-taught harmonica and kazoo.

Pino's basement studio has awards hanging on the walls and applications for a Las Vegas accordion festival this summer, and it is not without a sense of humor — a framed "Far Side" cartoon depicts souls lined up to enter heaven and hell, each receiving their harps and accordions, respectively.

After finishing a lesson with a student much more experienced than myself, he took me into his office, picked out an instrument suitable to my size and asked about my goals.

I was frank. I just wanted to see if I could grasp the concept of playing an accordion, and if I couldn't, I'd drop the obsession before it got too pricey.

Oh, I failed to mention that being able to play (and sing) "That's Amore" in Italian restaurants around the valley would be nice, too . . . but maybe I'll save that until the next lesson.

Pino started me out with a beginner's book and we were on our way.

Wearing an accordion must be what it's like to house quintuplets in your belly. It's heavy, akin to wearing a book-filled backpack backward, and you have to move your fingers over piano keys with one hand while controlling the airflow and tonal quality with the other.

Since, as a grade-school tyke I was unable to totally grasp patting my head and rubbing my tummy at the same time, the accordion requires my total concentration.

I did OK for my first lesson. Either that or my teacher has learned to be a good liar over the years.

It was relatively painless. I am now confident I could play the scale up and down and up again alongside the greatest accordion giants.

I think I'll even go back for another lesson, and more, if I can grasp the concept. And no complaints as of yet from the neighbors when I practice at midnight.

One day, if and when I'm nominated for "Best Polka Album" at the Grammys alongside the Brave Combo stalwarts, I already know how my speech will start out:

"Uh, I'd like to thank my boss for making me take accordion lessons when I was but a lowly newspaper writer. . . . "