The Day the Music Died. Alternate Title: Karaoke Is Hard, You Guys.

I had to do it. I did wait an acceptable amount of time, so I could blame any inaccuracies, missing moments, or outright falsifications on my spotty memory. I got to hang with these three awesome women, and we tried to put a reasonable amount of hurt on a Tuesday night in RVA. I wouldn’t call it a beatdown, but I’m proud of what we accomplished. And now I have to tell you guys about it, so the gelatinous monster will leave me alone for one tiny second. She’s seriously upset that I screwed up the karaoke experience, and made my friends share in my humiliation. I sing ALL THE TIME. Why was I so inept?! She will not let it go.

IMG_4664brightWe look harmless, right? But we closed down each of the 3 bars we visited.

[Ed. Note: Names have been altered to protect the innocent.]

Recently, Lissa, Marta and I decided that we should get together on the semi-regular and try to destroy local bars as an unscheduled and, if I’m honest, unrequested disaster testing exercise to make sure they’ve done their disaster planning adequately. This is a strategic and helpful service that we’re happy to provide for our local biz owners, and we’re not even charging for it. We’re pretty awesome that way. We heard that Emcee’s in da house was coming to town and insisted that she join us for one of our Tuesday Teardown Events, and she agreed. The four of us had a blast. We talked about old times. We talked about our families, and we talked about things that are above your clearance level, unless one of you in the picture is reading this, and you know what we talked about. (Relax, Emcee’s in da house, Lissa, and Marta — alpha order so nobody gets aggro on me — I’m not going to spill the deets on anything except the events of the night in question. So, don’t spill any dirt on me. Remember we took that oath? I know, I know, we didn’t. We should have, but we didn’t.)

Anyway, I want to talk about the karaoke, because I just didn’t know. All my life. In the dark. And my life has been a nearly constant training session for a karaoke extravaganza that people would talk about in reverent and glowing terms for weeks afterward. In my head. Where reality has no business holding court.

[Ed. Note: Speaking of reality and such: Emcee, Lissa, and Marta, hit me up with any corrections and additions, right? I’m not exaggerating intentionally. This time.]

Things I didn’t know about karaoke:

  • People take it really seriously. Like really fucking seriously. I’m exaggerating, you say? I am not. I have proof. For our first song, Emcee’s in da house selected ‘We Are Family’ and, while I was not sure about it at first, I calmed myself down as I remembered that the lyrics are supplied for you. I’m chuckling and shaking my head even now as I remember that this was my only concern then. We all got up to sing. I may have strutted up to the front. I’m extremely shy, but I assumed the ridiculous number of years I’ve spent on this fine planet engaged in exuberant singing meant I would rock at karaoke. Emcee grabbed one microphone for the two of us. I think Lissa grabbed the other. I’m not convinced that Marta EVER planned on singing as she was sober. SOBER, PEOPLE. Yes. Give her a hand. That woman accompanied us to karaoke night with no alcohol on board. I’m reasonably certain the constant refrain in her head was, “Fuck this noise. Fuck this noise. Fuck this noise.” But I could be projecting. I stood next to Emcee preparing for my debut. The lyrics began to scroll. And…….we missed our cue. Somehow. I think it was at this point that Emcee and I exchanged the look of “Whuh? This doesn’t work exactly as expected. Wait, we might be drunk. This is probably best attempted buzzed and not drunk. Nah. We’ve got this.” Then, she looked away and began to give it a go. But my look changed back to something of the nature of “No. I don’t have this. I don’t really know this song at all. Is this a different version of this song? I’ve certainly never practiced this song. I may have only really sung this song once over the entire course of my lifetime. That’s insufficient. Abort. Abort. Abort. No. Better plan. Giggle. Giggle loudly and with abandon because this is really fucking funny. Wait. Look at those faces. People are fierce mad, yo. Wait. Are you laughing harder? Yes. You’re laughing harder. Now, you’re doubled over and clutching your stomach. Stop that. Don’t laugh harder. That’s making them angrier.” I’m certain that Lissa abandoned us long before we got 3 lines deep into the lyrics and just looked at us like, “WTF, women?” But with a humorous and patient kind of look. She’s a seasoned pro. There was nothing for her to do but watch the trainwreck and help with the carnage when the smoke cleared. Emcee really did us proud. She might have faltered at the beginning with me, but she finished strong. Then, she and Lissa danced like it was no big thing while we waited to see if we would be booted from the bar for being a bane to the existence of karaoke fans across the land.
  • If you catch someone late to the party who hasn’t witnessed your epic failure, you will get a second chance to party. Marta and I sat and talked and tried to make sense of the crazy that is a karaoke bar on a Tuesday night. Some dude decided to sit on my lap. I’m still unsure what makes me look like a chair, but I’ll concede that the guy had partaken of a fair share of adult brews. Yes, kids DO have brewskis. Of the root variety. Anyway, somewhere in here (I, unlike Marta, was experiencing the sensation of blood combined with my glorious friend, Tito’s) a guy comes over and asks if we know Love Shack. I don’t need Marta to confirm that I lit up like I’d just been plugged in a socket. I think I said, “Of course!” I meant, “Duh, you giant jackass, and thank you for not being here earlier to witness our epic failure. We will not let you down. You can be certain I have rocked the SHIT out of that song so many times I cannot count them. Let’s get this thing on the books.”

Dear Emcee, I must out you here and alert the readers (all one of them) that you tried to shut this shit down. I forgive you, because we delivered a performance that still brings tears to my eyes. We were spot on. My drunk self is certain of this. I will not ask Marta to confirm as the truth is sure to disappoint me. Love, Steph

  • A karaoke bar can yield some really dramatic situations. For example, Emcee and I met this woman who was pining for her friend at the bar with her boyfriend. A classic triangle. This poor woman had reached a standard of overserved that I haven’t seen in a while. I was a bit afraid for her as the night progressed. I was heartily rooting for her to boot by the time we all left the bar because, at a certain point, you just have to get that poison out. But at any rate, Emcee and I were enlisted to help her win her friend over with the song ‘Push It’ which is another one that has enjoyed a decent rotation in my playlists over the years. So, I assured this woman that we would do right by her. [This song came after Lissa selected a country song that she shooed us up to accompany her on. I think I was the sole idiot that made it all the way to the stage area. Which was tragic for Lissa as she killed it, and my presence up there did nothing but distract from the awesome. I believe my ratio of correct words to incorrect was 1:1,000,000. Nailed it! Still sorry, Lissa!] For ‘Push It’ we were sadly relegated to backup dancer status. Which we worked like “In Living Color” extras. Again, how successful my performance was might be a figment of my imagination. You decide. Emcee took a run at backup singer, but the woman was having none of that. So, we did our thing, but it wasn’t enough. Her friend left with the guy. Sad, but we tried. I think the song was at fault. Bad song.

It was a great night. With some great people. Marta, you’re a rock star. No alcohol at a karaoke bar. Still impressed. Emcee, this town isn’t quite complete without you. Lissa, you brighten whatever place you inhabit. I’m ready for the next time!!

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