Today I sang for “Killer” as he spontaneously danced and clapped his wrinkled hands to a beat that I’m not entirely sure I was singing or playing to. I call “Killer” my “Hypeman” because every time I play one of my songs, he gently encourages every one else to clap and dance by demonstrating to each person in the room how it’s done.
I met “Killer” because I knocked on Mary’s door one night as her family celebrated her father’s birthday. When Mary’s mother answered the door, I gave my pitch, “Hi, my name is Rob Vischer. I’m a local musician who’s going to every door in Jackson, MI this year. My goal is to get the backing of the local community behind my music so that I can get a record deal by next year. I also do birthday grams during the day…” Her mom interrupted me. “You do birthday grams?” she asked. “Oh, that’s exciting. We’re celebrating my husband’s birthday. Come on in. Come on in.”
After I played “Happy Birthday” for Mr. B, Mary’s mom asked enthusiastically, “Would you like some cake and milk?” “I don’t turn down food,” I responded, which is true. I never turn down food. I’m 6’6,” and my metabolism runs like I’m still 16.
After we talked for a few minutes, Mary’s sister said excitedly, “My friend has one of your cd’s, and she said that it’s so addicting. I want one!” After she bought a cd, the family asked me to play one of my songs. So, I played, “My Valentine,” a song that I wrote for two of my friends who got married on Valentine’s Day. Halfway through the song everybody started smiling at each other and almost laughing like there was some inside joke between them. Mary told me later that they laughed because they were surprised that I was good. She thought I was going to suck.
A few days later, Mary sent me a facebook message asking me to play at a Catholic adult care facility where she works. Today was my third time playing there for “Killer” and the rest of the crew. These last six weeks, I’ve gone to hundreds of houses. Some of the people, like “Killer,” have become some of my biggest supporters and greatest friends. Others have slammed the door in my face. Whenever I experience the latter, I remember “Killer.” He says things like, “Boy, you have a great voice!” and “I aint ever heard anyone strum di dileeeum and sing like that. Never,” and “When I hear you singin’ it makes me wanna dance!”
“Killer” has coke bottle glasses, an old man’s cap, and pants that he hikes up to his belly button when he dances. “Killer” also has some form of alzheimer’s, but he never forgets to encourage me. During this year of selling cd’s door to door, I hope I meet more people like Mary’s family. They showed me hospitality when they didn’t even know me. I hope I meet more people like Mary. Most of the time she’s the only one to join “Killer” when he asks her to dance. Most of all, I hope I meet more people like “Killer.” Sometimes you have to look deep into another’s life to find God. With “Killer,” you just have to give him a moment to speak and a song to dance to.