Friday, June 02, 2006

Which Cracked First: My Voice or My Mind?

There is a point in a lot of people’s lives where they realize that they are perhaps a little too old to be hanging out at their old nighttime haunts. Of course, it is better to realize this before or at the same time as everyone else at those clubs, but that is another story entirely.

So it was that a few years ago, I suddenly realized that standing in a club with a hellish moniker surrounded by, uh, let’s say questionable 19-year old American girls dancing to "Baby Got Back" and "Freak Like Me" was not going to be comfortable any more, because chatting someone up who was potentially born in when Bush the Elder was in office.

Now I had a few options. I could drink alone, and socialize with my alcohol-fueled hallucinations, but I felt that was giving up to easily, and my hallucinations said that if I stayed at home every night, they’d leave me. I could stop drinking entirely, but then where’s the fun in that.

With those two options down, I had to find an alternative social setting to drink, and since it was the winter, there were no beer softball leagues around. I can’t ice skate, so hockey was also out of the question, which left me with only one alternative.


Homer sings Karaoke

Now, I have what psychologists like to call glossophobia, or as most normal people would call it, stage fright. How bad was it? During my presentation for a high school history class, I actually asked the teacher if he had a valium… in mid-sentence. And I was about to put myself on stage before a hundred strangers, and a few friends.

But back in high school, I didn’t have liquid courage on tap either. Now, my first time up on stage was shaky… though that was mainly because of the questionable choice of song my duet partner made. But I survived, and I learned one of the fundamental lessons of a good karaoke-crawling group: don’t ever be the worst singer amongst your friends. If you are the worst singer, find someone who is worse and invite them, implore them to come. Over the coming weeks and months, our little gang and the karaoke bar were often acquainted once a week or so.

I murdered "Eleanor Rigby" and buried her along with her name. "Live and Let Die" did the latter. When I sang Radiohead’s "Optimistic," the audience wasn’t feeling that. And yet, you get up and belt out "Bohemian Rhapsody" and the place goes nuts. And Eddy Grant’s "Electric Avenue" was a huge hit too. I fought some legendary battles against some of the classics of Western pop music, and while I got my ass handed to me many a time and I have the emotional scars to prove it, I was able to in many ways conquer that barrier inside myself. And I avoided being the dirty old man at the booty bars, which also has its advantages.

Now, in retrospect I feel sorry for the DJ’s at the karaoke bar, because from what I’ve gathered, they are all school of music students/graduates (at least at the place I am talking about). On some level, it must be sort of painful and soul destroying to watch as the subject you studied is systematically destroyed night after night.

Well, slightly more painful and soul destroying than the club scene in general at least.


snackiepoo said...

Heh, funny that you reached that point in a club when I reached it recently at a theme park full of roller coasters and girls wearing barely any clothing ;)

MC said...

Well, the two venues have many things in common.

Scantily clad girls, sticky floors, flashing lights, surly security staff, people in costumes, deceptive games, the illusion of control and excitement galore if you find the right ride.

I think I went a metaphor too far there.