Thankfully, it wasn't sweltering hot outside, so I was able to sit there in the parking lot very comfortably, my book propped up on the steering wheel and an icy-cold Diet Coke in the drink holder. I was sitting there reading, enjoying the twittering of the little birds in the trees, when my peaceful interlude was suddenly interrupted by a bellowing as of a cow giving birth. It was very close to my van and it caused me to both spill some Diet Coke on my top and drop my novel.
The clamor resolved itself into words as I groped around on the floor with trembling hands to retrieve my book. "SHE WAS A DA-A-A-AAY TRIPPER!!! A SUNDAY DRIVER, YEAH! IT TOOK ME SO-O-O-O LONG TO FIND OUT! BUT I FOUND OUT!!"
Not content with just the lyrics, the singer -- male, still unseen -- accompanied himself with the following guitar riff that anyone who's familiar with this Beatles song will recognize: BOU buh bou-bou buh BOU bou BOU! BOU buh bou-bou buh BOU bou BOU!!
I looked around surreptitiously for Paul McCartney -- I have a few sharp words I'd like to say to him -- but instead saw this Kroger employee, the cart guy, a man whose job it is to go around to all the cart corrals in the parking lot and herd them all back up to the store. He sang happily at the top of his voice the whole time I sat there in the van waiting for Aisling to come out of Great Clips, roaring out a repertoire of Beatles tunes. I sat there through "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," "All You Need is Love," (accompanied by the wah-wah wahwahwah brass riff, through his nose) "Michelle," and a really moving rendition of "And I Love Her."
"BRIGHT ARE THE STARS THAT SHINE! DARK IS THE SKY-Y!" he brayed, throwing his head back as he trundled a row of carts across the lot. "I KNOW THIS LOVE OF MINE WILL NEVER DIE!!! 'CAUSE I LOVE HERRRRR!!!"
Honestly, he didn't sound all that bad. He was....tuneful. And boy, did he have some lung power. It was truly amazing, the decibel level he managed to sustain with one human voice, which didn't tire or falter even through "Paperback Writer," which is a fairly fast song that requires a lot of breath control.
Aisling came tripping out of Great Clips, handbag dangling on her arm, and I saw her give the cart guy a narrow-eyed look as he passed by her with a friendly nod and pushing yet another balky line of grocery carts. "What is his deal?" she asked, climbing into the van.
Cart Guy started lugubriously bawling out "Eleanor Rigby."
"I don't know," I mused. "He either really likes the Beatles and is a harmless eccentric who enjoys singing...."
"Or maybe just a big weirdo?"
"WAAAAAAAAAAAA, LOOK AT ALL THE LONE-LEEE PEEEEOPLE, zoupy-zoupy zoupy, WAAAAAAAAHHH, LOOK AT ALL THE LONE-LEEE PEEEEEOPLE!!!"
"Violins," I explained. "He does the instrumental background solos."
"Oh." Aisling pursed her lips. "What about that other guy? Over on the other side of town, the one who stands on the sidewalk outside Radio Shack and the Hallmark store and plays the oboe?"
I'm rather fond of the Oboe Man and like to throw a couple of dollars in his basket (oboe cases aren't very big) when we're in the area. "He's a busker," I said. "Someone who plays impromptu gigs in different parts of the city for money." We pulled out of the parking lot onto the highway, leaving the singing behind.
"Okay, please don't say the word 'gigs," she admonished me, a pained expression on her face. "Is that guy a busker? Because he doesn't seem to have a basket or a tip jar or a hat to pass."
"I believe he is just free entertainment," I said. "I wonder if he likes the music of Johnny Cash? We could come back with a picnic and sit on that little grassy hill by the bank. It would be a lot cheaper than Symphony on the Prairie. We could even help out by providing backup vocals and instrumentals."
"Don't even think about it."
"WE GOT MARRIED IN A FEVER! HOTTER THAN A PEPPER SPROUT!!!" I warbled at the top of my voice, throwing my head back and abandoning myself to the persona of a harmless eccentric. Only I could bring a basket for people to throw money in, maybe the Longaberger Medium Market basket with the swinging handles my mom bought me when I was expecting Meelyn.
"STOPPIT!!!" screeched Aisling, mindful of her teenage dignity, even rolling along a state highway in the van with the tinted windows shut tight. "YOU'RE ALREADY WEIRD ENOUGH WITHOUT THE SINGING!"
Hmph. What does she know?
Probably a lot.