When I was a kid, I hated musicals. Not disliked. Not “let’s see what else is on TV”, I HATED them. With a passion. If I came across a musical on television I would growl, roll my eyes or even motion like I was trying to gag myself with my finger.
I loathed musicals.
I know that may sound odd for someone whose life has been largely enveloped in music, but it’s true. And it may not be for the reasons you think. Was it the quality of the songs? No…those Mary Poppins tunes are extremely catchy. Was it the story? No, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were captivating enough.
You want to know why I hated musicals so much? Because they weren’t real. It bothered me—extremely bothered me—that the world doesn’t work like it does in musicals. Right now, if a person breaks into song in Walmart, the rest of the customers would freeze in their tracks, stare, remove their children from the premises, some might even bolt for the door in an effort to get away from the “crazy person.” No one would join in. There would be no break out of harmonies and people clapping, snapping and tapping along. There would be no instant choreography that everyone suddenly knows.
No, musicals were a lie. They presented a falsehood. And I hated it. Because I WANTED the world to be that way. I wanted us to all sing together.
When I was in high school I worked at the local grocery store, Churchill’s in tiny little Three Rivers, Texas. The owner was a great guy who cared about my family and gave me the job because he knew it helped us pay our bills. I would stock the produce section and the canned goods, fill the shelves in the refrigerator with new cartons of milk and eggs. I’d sweep the back room, sack groceries for the customers and even carry their bags to their cars. And often, I would sing while doing it. My co-workers would give a nervous chuckle. And often I was asked to quit. I was “annoying the customers.”
When my wife and I moved into our home, I was mowing the back yard one day and singing at the top of my lungs as I pushed the mower over the blades of grass. My neighbor stopped me and said, “Why do you sing when you mow the lawn?” I said, “because I enjoy singing.” He paused, looked at me with a seriously puzzled look on his face and replied, “Yes…but WHY?”
Now, I know I can carry a tune. I’m not fantastic but I’m not singing so poorly that people can’t stand to hear me either. So why? Why does it bother us so much when someone breaks out in song in public?
This past week I watched The Greatest Showman. A musical. And LOVED it. Yes, I know it’s fantasy. Yes they danced and sang together in perfected harmonies and meticulously planned steps. It was completely unnatural.
And I loved it. I guess I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I don’t care. Sometimes at home, my family sings our conversations.
“Moooooorgan….how was your day at schoooool?”
“Daddddddeeeeee… it was greeeeeeaaaaaat!”
It’s the closest I’ve ever come to a real life musical.
So you’ve been warned. If you see me in public, I’m likely going to sing.
And I would love it if you joined in…