I don’t know how it happened, but I ended up at a dive bar with an elaborate karaoke set up on Saturday night. It wasn’t the karaoke that lead us there, and it wasn’t the karaoke that kept us there, but it is what I remember from the night.
There were the obvious characters at the bar who are all worthy of mention. One man was, coincidentally enough, wearing exactly what my friend is planning on her son wearing when he dresses up as a pirate for Halloween. Only he wasn’t dressing up.
Another was a weathered guy in a Yankees T-shirt (the first sign we weren’t going to be friends), and it wasn’t so much what he was wearing, but more that he insisted on following me around for a large part of the evening claiming to have sung with Def Leppard, Iron Maiden and Poison. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he hadn’t, but he kept warning me that when he went up, he was going to blow me away. His name was Seven, another dubious claim, and I never did get to hear his singing.
Then there was the requisite birthday party of mid-thirties women who were well on their way to hammered and the main partakers in the Karaoke.
Add to this picture a few scattered, worn looking regulars and you have the scene.
The astounding thing about Karaoke is the song choice and the amazing surprises that come your way when you think you’ve stereo-typed someone.
I expected Madonna and Alanis Morisette from the women … and they delivered, complete with some raunchy dance moves (Shoop – Salt ‘n Peppa) accompanied by some self-conscious giggling.
I expected Johnny Cash from the worn looking, mullet donning man. No go. Instead was some obscure love song, so genuinely delivered that it made up for the terrible rendition of a terrible song (You Oughta Know). And all of a sudden, karaoke stopped being such a joke and started to become something else.
Hokey and super lame, I know, but there is something so heart wrenching about a person up on stage singing their heart out with eyes closed not giving a rat’s arse about who is listening, but doing it for the sake of doing it and not to impress some girl or make friends laugh. And maybe I’m making something beautiful out of a drunk loner who doesn’t even remember that he was at a karaoke bar, much less singing. And I realize that this possibility is very likely, but I like to think in spite of the drunk, repressed women and the group I was with (also drunk and repressed), a moment of beauty occurred. Or a few.