This Flute of Mine, So Gay

Right now somewhere in Los Angeles and New York, simultaneously, there’s a conference call to discuss whether or not our show is going to Aspen. We won’t know for a few hours. I’m trying to pretend my stomach isn’t twisting in knots.

I’m working on one script while reading another, and because my brain is being pulled in too many directions, I thought I’d take a moment to tell you about this past weekend. Immediately after announcing the Battle of the Seven Rebeccas, one dropped out and another declared herself the winner. After hearing this story, you might agree.

Saturday night, Dan, Adam and I went to see Rebecca sing in her pretty concert. It was all holiday songs, and very pretty. Attending this event with Dan and Adam was like when Adam went to see The Pixies with me. But instead of me squealing, “I hope they do ‘Gigantic’,” Adam and Dan were like, “Ooh! They’re doing ‘Fum, Fum, Fum’!”

I was fine until I read the translation for Allons, Gay Bergeres :

Come, gay, gay, gay, shepherds. Be joyful. Follow me. Come, come to see the King who, from heaven, on earth is born. I will give him a nice present. Of what? Of this flute of mine, so gay. A cake will I give him; and I will offer a full tankard. Ho, ho, be quiet! I see him. He suckles well without his thumb, the little King. The King is drinking.

People, how am I supposed to hold it together? I mean, come on.

Later, when Dan was explaining to me that he’s an Enemy to Art mostly because he often feels like he’s just not in on the joke, I promised I’d expose him to the kind of art that doesn’t make you feel stupid. I told him that I was at this concert even though I know nothing about sightreading or choir music or gay kings, but I don’t worry when I’m not getting all of it. I can still appreciate it. Dan agreed to try more art. We went back in for the second half of the show, which ended with a Twelve Days of Christmas, with each verse sung in different musical styles from a Gregorian Chant to 19th Century America. By the time they got to “Eight Maids-a-Milking from 19th century Germany,” the audience was rolling with laughter. Screaming. The man in front of us was spasming like Eddie Izzard was doing his Englebert Humperdink routine. I turned to Dan and raised a single, arty eyebrow. “Fine,” he admitted. “You win.”

Anyway, the concert was beautiful and there was much singing and afterwards we were still in the singing mood when we all headed over to a Silverlake piano bar. Now, I’ve never heard of a piano bar in Silverlake, and I lived there for two years, so when I saw the address I said, “This place is either inside a gay gym or it’s inside a gay porn store.” Either way, we were excited to find out. As we walked through the cold rain to find the super-secret hangout, Adam noted, “This night isn’t over until the three of you are singing and I’m playing the piano with my ass.”

This tiny little piano bar can only be entered from the back (Ho, ho, be quiet!). When we walked in, the guy at the piano was playing one of my least favorite songs of all time: “Benny and the Jets.” Earlier, at the reception, Rebecca and I were talking about drinking. She was complaining that whenever she drank she found herself yelling by the end of the night, thus ruining her singing voice. I countered that she just hadn’t found the right drink yet, since Kir Royals make me fun and silly, Vodka Martinis make me puke in public and Tequila makes me act like a trollop with a full tankard. “I should try that Kir Royal,” Rebecca said. “We’ll get them at the piano bar,” I decided.

A round of Kir Royals later, and Rebecca, Adam and I are seated in the row of chairs around the piano. It was set up not unlike a stripper stage (not that I’d know anything about that), with holly and ivy twined around the edge of the bar. Holly had fake boobs, but Ivy knew how to hang upside down from the pole by her thighs. Ba-dum-bum. Dan was off talking to some friends from work, and I was watching the dinnerless Rebecca enjoy herself. She sang along with the piano man. “I think this is the best drink in the world,” she said to me. Adam accidentally spilled half of his Kir Royal on the woman sitting next to us. She moved to the other side of the piano.

Adam pointed out that we weren’t sitting at a piano at all, but rather a wooden fake piano with a keyboard resting where the keys should go. This was very apparent when the piano man’s PA system kept shorting out mid-song, and he’d have to reboot. He chuckled and joked, but seeing as how his mic was out, too, the three of us were the only ones to hear his witty banter.

When the microphone came back on he said, “This is my first night. I’m still learning how they do things around here.”

Adam requested his song with Rebecca, and they held hands through “Moon River.” The piano man made his way through a few requests. Adam asked for “Fame.” The piano man knew the song, but not the words. He asked the blonde still soaked in Kir to come up to the microphone and sing it for him. So she did.

“You know, every time I’ve been to a piano bar,” I said to Adam, “and by that I mean the one time in New Orleans, they never know the song I want to hear.” It’s Cole Porter’s “Too Darn Hot,” and I’ve always wanted to sing it live, but not one Karaoke joint, nor a single piano man seems to know that tune. This place was no exception. “I’m pretty sure he’d let you go up there and wing it,” Adam joked.

“I’m done with my drink,” Rebecca announced.

“Okay, I’ll buy the next round,” Adam said as he stood up. “But when I get back here, you two had better be singing at that microphone.”

Ha, ha, ha. Adam left. The piano man turned to me. “Any requests?” he asked.

“Do you know ‘Natural Woman’?”

“Are you seriously asking me if I know ‘Natural Woman’? The question is, ‘Do you?’”

“I do.”

“Then get up here and sing it.”

And that’s when Rebecca and I walked to the front of the bar. I looked over at Dan, who was on the other side of the place. It looked like he had put his friends on pause, and was turned towards us with this expression of awe and potential humiliation. “I’m sorry, do you WORK HERE?!”

And uh, we sang the song. Not badly. It was a lot of fun. If you’re ever going to sing live in kind of an impromptu sort of way, I highly recommend bringing a professional singer up there with you. Holy cow, Rebecca can sing.

So we’re walking back to our seats and a man at the bar shouts, “Hello? This is a GAY BAR, ladies.” Perhaps the song was a bit too hetero. Or was it just gay enough?

“The gauntlet has been thrown,” shouted Dan. He turned to the piano man. “Do you know ‘Copacabana’? ” He didn’t. Dan pointed at his brother. “Well, HE does.”

The piano man stood up. “Let’s hear it.”

And that is when the Brothers Blau took over the place. I don’t really know how to describe it, other than it was like a scene from a movie, where suddenly the entire bar is passing around a tip jar so you can have enough money to pay for your cousin’s kidney operation, and the boy you like realizes you are the love of his life, and everybody’s singing and the credits are soon going to roll. I turned to Rebecca and shouted, “I wish their mom was here!” It was truly a moment.

And from then on we turned that piano bar into a karaoke joint, with other people from the crowd coming up to sing, including a man who had brought sheet music and was thrilled to be performing some of what I think might have been his original works. Then everybody was drinking Kir Royals. I never realized how important the karaoke monitors were for prompting lyrics until I forgot an entire verse to Laura Brannigan’s “Gloria.” And when Dan and Adam performed their sexy cover of “Private Eyes,” I couldn’t have been prouder. We never got around to doing “Too Darn Hot,” but I figure we’ll just wait until next month, when they ask us to headline.

“I’m yelling!” Rebecca shouted. “And I love it!”

It may not have been on a list of things I wanted to accomplish before I died, but it should have been. That was one hell of a good time.

(Note to five other Rebeccas: good luck in the swimsuit competition.)

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