By A. Ronning
Like a one-man Cajun funeral he stood before me. And with a mystical aura only possible through weeks of blatant disregard to basic hygiene and the concept of sobriety, he stole my heart. Doctor Love, as I later came to know him, reminded me that the best kind of happiness is never planned and, more importantly, is never complicated. You might even say it’s as simple ABC, 123, Do Re Mi.
Let’s rewind. Last Friday afternoon, while many were mourning the death of Michael Jackson, I was lucky enough to bear witness to the Doctor paying his unique respects to the King of Pop on the Washington Street “L” platform. As a small boombox played a karaoke recording of the Jackson 5’s ABC, Doctor Love juked jived and sang his way into the hearts of the small gathering of people assembled around him. One could tell by the ear-to-ear smile on his grizzled and worn face, he’d be doing this even if we weren’t tossing money in his hat. His skinny limbs flailing, his paunchy gut jiggling to the rhythm of his pelvic thrusts, Dr. Love performed with the showmanship and joy paralleled by only Jackson himself. Oddly, his lack of coordination served only to demonstrate the purity of his performance. I often don’t think twice of street performers, but this was special.
Judging from his lazy eye and drool stains, I highly doubt he was conscious of much, least of all the lessons he was teaching us. But then again, enjoying the simple things comes natural for some people. To some, like Doc. Love, living and loving life are natural and don’t require conscious contemplation. For the rest of us, though, it is essential we don’t write them off. I, for one, sleep better at night knowing there is someone out there willing to celebrate what he has instead of succumbing to the pain of what he’s lost. It’s on us to learn from the Doctor Loves of the world.
We talk a lot about striking a better work/life balance. Much of that has to do with time management and office efficiency, but value must also be placed on appreciating those little things. Watching a homeless man strut his stuff in honor of Michael Jackson, and genuinely enjoy doing so really made my day. I’m sure there is no shortage of things he has to be upset about, the death of some ghoulish creature the least of them. His existence therefore is a dare to the rest of us.
He dares us to sing in the shower. To laugh bravely in the face of a traffic jam. To join our children in their fits of silliness instead of admonish them. To dance down the street on a rainy day. Pick a cliche, make it real.
Two trains later, the crowd remained unmoved. It is true that time flies when you are having fun. On rare occasions, however, it slows down. After what seemed like ages of pure entertainment and many laughter-induced tears, ABC wound to a close. What could possibly follow up such a near perfect performance?
It started as a low rumble, then the unmistakable beat rounded into form. To the delight of the audience, he lifted his shirt slightly to reveal an ancient phone tucked in his waistband. As he started to move around, he pulled the phone to his year, revealing the chord connecting the phone to his pants. With a triumphant boom he prefaced with a grin: “Doctor Love on the line baby”. With credentials established he began round two…
“My First. My Last. My Everything…”
You can find happiness around any corner. It exists where you least expect it. If it can exist on a subway platform, why not in a board room, at the dinner table, or even a funeral? You just have to keep your eyes open. Even with only half the sight and a quarter of the sobriety, the Doctor showed that he can see that better than any of us.