Friday, October 21, 2011

Everyone Should Do Karaoke

So last night was a bit of a weird night.

It was a special occasion because our core group of friends (along with a couple of newish folks) went to see the original Ghostbusters in theaters. It was only getting one showing a night, one night a week for the three weeks leading up to Halloween, and we chose this week to do it.

So it was a pretty groovy night already.

Then we went to our friendly neighborhood <name redacted> for some food and conversation. Little did we know that it was karaoke night. And a rather loud karaoke night at that.

It was packed.

Not that folks were there to sing, necessarily. Sure, there were one or two folks constantly going back and forth between their tables, taking turns crooning out pop-ish country and several Black Eyed Peas mainstays (really? Fergalicious, people?), but for the most part it seemed like folks were just doing their best to suffer through the night as they ate their dinners and performed their mating rituals (it was interesting to watch the young cholo lad in the table next to me steadily creep into his date's personal space).

Our table was certainly hostile to the crooners.

We're a pretty opinionated group. We know what we like and don't... and aren't afraid to tell each other so (don't worry, we didn't start any brawls). It didn't help that none of the music those regulars rotating on the mic were choosing were of the sort we ever enjoyed.

Someone had to do something, but I didn't want it to be me.

I started laying out hints and challenges.

"There's only one way to put a stop to it," I'd prompt the table. "You have to go up there and pick something decent." Notice my self-serving use of the word 'you.' I'd like to think of myself sometimes as the Jeff of the group, though I'm probably closer to a cross between Abed, Britta and Pierce. "You could totally do better than them."

This sort of baiting went on for a half an hour with no success. Not a single member of our crew wanted to get up and croon. I steadily worked my way down the table, challenging each and every member of our party to make the pain and constant parades of Shanias and Will.I.Ams cease and desist.

Then one of them had the inkling to call my bluff with one of their own.

"If you do it, I will."

That cinched it. I had an in. I could bow to the small pressure put on me and do what I had really been itching to do all night but hadn't had the courage to start under my own power due to my friends being so anti-Karaoke.

You see, I wanted to sing.

The table didn't quite erupt in disbelief as I walked the short distance across the bar to where the Karaoke DJs were camped out, but there was certainly a stir. I asked how much of a line there was (as we were finishing our dinner at that point) and snagged the rather thick song book the DJs had several copies of so folks could choose their tunes. Pacing back to the table, I sat back down and started going through songs.

There were several thousand of them and barely any sounded interesting. It took me close to half an hour to go through the entire list, skimming through countless R&B, Rap and Country tunes that I knew nary a word to. The pickings weren't entirely slim as there were quite a few songs that I knew, but didn't think I had the range to sing, but then I found it.

Bohemian Rhapsody.

It's a song everyone has sung at one point or another, whether they be in the shower, driving down the road or just headbanging along with Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey.

Maybe it was cliche, but I had my song.

As of this writing, I still don't know if my group thought I would actually go through with it until I pulled the book from the table with me and headed to the mic. The regulars were taking a break and I had my chance. No line, no wait... all I had to do was sing.

Then... disaster.

The mic wasn't on and I didn't know it. A DJ scrambled to get it on and I went a verse without any amplification over the din of folks talking and flirting. Still, I soldiered on.

The next several minutes were bliss. It wasn't orgasmic or anything, I just stared at the screen and did my best. No playing to the crowd or searching for eye contact, I just felt the music and tried my damnedest to do Freddie proud.

Sure, I missed a note or two... there are some high pitches that just haven't come to me since reaching my majority. And, yes, my voice was probably flat or sharp here and there. And, finally, there were a few cues I missed due to my nerves.

But it... was... bliss.

It wasn't until the song was done and I started inching away from the mic that I noticed that people were clapping and folks had actually enjoyed my rendition. The egoist in me said many were applauding, the shy introvert side of me tried to reign me back by whispering that it was only my friends and a few sparse others doing so out of politeness, but I still took a few half joking bows and nods of the head in acknowledgement.

By the time I got back the table, the jig was up. I had called their bluff, now it was my time to call theirs. Unfortunately, they disappointed me. Not a single member of my party had the courage to get up and join me. I was crestfallen, but tried to stay upbeat.

When the waitress came around to offer a bit of encouragement, I smiled and blushed (let's just say it's been a while since a cute gal complimented me for anything). I'd like to think her 500% tip was mostly due to her service (don't think I went too crazy, I'm a cheap date... all I had that night was water and an appetizer)... but I'd be lying to myself if part of the reason wasn't due to her post-Rhapsody comments.

As we paid our bills and headed out, one of the DJs tried to get me to come back up for more, to which I no doubt blushed a second time. The night was over, however, and I hadn't found a second song in all those thousands I had any confidence in. My friends and I moved back to my apartment and sat around talking for several more hours, a few moments of which I spent trying to gauge how I actually did by asking folks as subtly as possible.

I've slept on it now and still think I had quite a bit of fun. It really was bliss to be up there singing a song I love dearly, hoping to wash the taste of the pop and rap that folks had been doing earlier from my mind. Sure, there were a few disappointments. The missed notes, my friends chickening out... and no lovely young ladies raced across the bar (drunk or sober) to give me their numbers or buy me a drink... but, still, I had fun.

I think I'd do it again in a heartbeat... so long as I could find another song from those thousands of rejects.

And, in the end, really... everyone should do Karaoke.

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