He could be heard long before he was seen, booming his song. The bass slides down the isles, past the frozen fish, over the apples and oranges, down through the carts.
“He shops at Walmart/Just like you/He shops at Walmart/Just like me/Yes, he shops at Walmart/just like us/He’s got the whole world in his hand.”
I am here for a jar of peanut butter. Smucker’s Natural Chunky. And a small jar of grape jelly. I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and have none of what I need for it. And rice cakes. I had told my daughter I would have it on rice cakes. Ultimately, while better for me, the texture would be wrong and it would leave me still wanting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But the truth is having the real thing would also leave me still wanting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I always want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This time, just this once, I was giving in to it. Sort of. So taken with this desire, was I, that I pulled into Walmart.
“He’s got the whole world/In his hands/He’s got the whole world/In his hands/He’s got the whole world/In his hands/He’s got the whole world in his hands.”
Walking towards the peanut butter, meat to my left, the singing gets closer. The singing gets louder. The singing comes around the corner from the dairy. A man – black, built as though her were made of a barrel, seven feet tall. Maybe more. Probably less. Clothed in red and gold and browns from his shoes to his kofia. A kofia. One very much like my own, which feels so good to wear. Which, when wearing, leaves me feeling completed, whole, calm. The kofia that is never is worn out of the house – people might look. They might wonder. They might talk.
In his kofia, he is striding, pushing his cart, singing.
“Oh beautiful/for spacious skies/for amber waves of grain”
I have my rice cakes in hand, and heading toward the checkout. In line, behind me, a father and his son, eight or nine years old, and a few items. The singing walks by.
“Jacob rowed the boat ashore/Hallelujah/Jacob rowed the boat ashore/Halleloo-oo-yah.”
The little boy looks up to his father. “Why is he singing like that?” His father shrugs. I look at the older of the two, gesture in a way that asks if I may answer the child, and he gestures in kind. Yes, I may.
“Because he has somehow slipped past caring what other think about him. He isn’t concerned about what other people think. It probably doesn’t enter his mind at all. He is singing because he wants to. Like a lot of us would. But we don’t. We stop ourselves. He does it because he is not held by other people’s expectations or judgments and we should both learn something from that.
He looks at his father, who nods in agreement.
It is my turn to check out and, enviously, to the opening song from Oklahoma, I place my food on the counter.