It’s a fresh & sunny day in Wilderness, & I am on my way to my car after a delightful lunch with an old friend. A skip in my step & a smile on my face, I’m about to climb into my car when I hear a faint ‘Madam, madam!” from the other side of the parking lot. One leg still out the door, I look up to see the most interesting little man marching towards me, guitar in hand.
Dressed in a full-on suit – quilted with red, yellow & green material and a white floppy hat, he approaches me and flashes me a smile. I can’t help but notice his lack of front teeth as he introduces himself as Danny-Boy. He asks if he can play me a song, and being the muso that I am, I immediately respond with a ”Yes, please play me a song!” My eyes gleam with anticipation as he swings his guitar & props it up on one knee, a smile painted on his enthusiastic face.
His voice deeper than I thought it would be, I immediately exhale as his fingers strum effortlessly at the guitar strings. Such sweet sounds being produced by this person, I’m in awe – My eyes gazing from his fingers to his face, over his attire, and back to his fingers again. He sings about the weather & drinking cocktails at sunset. Nothing rhymes, but it doesn’t need to. His eyes are closed tight & his head is nodding side to side as the words climb out of his soul and grab at my heartstrings, engulfing me completely.
I find myself clapping and exclaiming how beautiful he is. He asks my name and when I tell him, he gleams and shoves his hand in his pocket. “I’ve got a song for you, Shannon.” He says as he produces a small bottle cap. I am astounded when he tells me that this piece of plastic is his saxophone. I look on in disbelief as he grins at me & pops the cap where his front teeth should be. He picks up his guitar once more & looks up at me from beneath his hat. He pauses – whether for dramatic effect or to prepare himself, it stirs anticipation within me & I’m urging him on once more.
When Danny-Boy begins again, I almost gape. No way! He wasn’t joking. Those sounds I’m hearing, the vibrations I’m feeling- that’s coming from him!! Sweet & smooth, he pushes air out for one sound and pulls in for the next, changing the pitch as he continues, all in perfect harmony with his fingers on the guitar. His eyebrows wiggle up and down, creating an almost comical show which is quickly grabbing the attention of passers-by. His chest fills with air as he looks up at me. The twinkle in his eye shows me that he is enjoying this just as much as I am. How refreshing to see a human going to such extremes – Not for money, not even for love. All this effort – His attire, his instruments, even his happy-go-lucky approach; This is all for the love of music!
Before he’s even finished, I’ve managed to find the last two R10 notes in my wallet and some leftover lunch to offer him. I feel the need to give him something, to return the favour somehow for making my day so much brighter than it already was. At that thought, I take a bracelet off my arm that I had made the day before. I give this to him too, in hopes that he will remember me the way I will remember him. I haven’t seen Danny-Boy since that day, & I don’t know if I ever will. What I do know is that he has triggered a new sense of pride in the human race & that he has uncovered many possibilities for happiness. Sometimes it is as easy as an old guitar, a piece of plastic and a little bit of zest for Life.
-Shannon Smith, Wilderness