We went to Vegas.
There’s a tradition every year we have a TWoP summit in Vegas: at a certain point I’m leading a large group of people to find Karaoke. In 2000, it was that walk where Dan and I became known as [said in pissy tone] “Oh, Pam and Dan of ‘Pam and Dan are so fucking funny?’” We do like our pissy title. It was that night we walked from Ellis Island to Tongs, where the Karaoke tradition started, and Wendy became Poundy and we all became better than best friends.
Then Tongs burned down, and every year we try to find a place that will let us take over and be idiots until five in the morning. This hasn’t worked. We’ve walked through the cold, the heat, over highways, carrying buckets of quarters, carrying yards of booze, but we never seem to find a place. This past weekend was no exception, when we found a karaoke bar that looked like it was in the outskirts of Houston and wasn’t interested in any of our funny business.
We ended up back at our hotel, the Westin, which we had fallen in love with because it was rather un-casino like and more like a fancy hotel that had a few machines and six tables. It was where I tried (and did) spend most of the weekend.
Anna Beth takes this picture, the best photo of all time, the one I’m going to try to use for identification, and I’ll just have to scribble over AB’s face.
We’re listening to the music over the loudspeakers. “Doesn’t this sound like Karaoke?” I ask AB.
“I’ll go find out,” she says.
She runs back. “Um, it’s not Karaoke? It’s a professional guy? But he said we can look through his iPod and sing whatever we want that he’s got.”
You’ve never seen ten people swarm a booth at a bar so quickly.
This is where we meet Larry, our lounge singer. He looks exactly like what you’d imagine. “Are you guys singers?” he asks.
“Yes!” we all lie.
“She’s gonna sing,” AB says, pointing at me.
“You must be from LA,” he says. I’m not sure what gave it away.
He tells me I can flip through his iPod as soon as he’s on break in about two songs. He gets back on his microphone, looking out to the mostly empty bar. “I’d like to sing this next song to a special lady in the audience,” he says. As everybody at the table turns to me, Larry says, “Not you, honey. Some other drunk.”
This is Miss Alli’s favorite moment of the night.
I text Dan with a message: “We are taking over the Westin lounge. If you want to sing, get your ass over here.” I looked up and he was standing in front of me.
Due to Larry’s limited selection, I am nervous about performing. I don’t want to mumble through lyrics. Hey, that’s why I’ve got a Treo! I do understand that this is the geekiest way to do Karaoke, but it really helped AB and me out. This is what led me to choose “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.”
AB sang “The Gambler” with Larry, and since Vince was out on the floor with stee gambling somewhere, she peppered her lyrics with the words “Vince Chao!”
“This is crazy,” I say.
Keckler looks at me. “Pam. It’s the Westin. What’s the worst that could happen?”
I follow her logic, pull my lyrics up on the Treo, and take the microphone.
I start sitting on the booth, but quickly decide to get down because I’ve got a wireless microphone. Larry leads me over to his friend — no lie — named Vinny, and asks me to sing to him. So this is when I hit the first chorus.
According to Sara, this is also when all of the Westin looked in my direction. “It’s not that it was bad,” she said. “It was just so loud.”
So I jump up on the bar for a second to kick my legs into the air because I kind of become someone else when I’ve got a microphone in my hand. Please keep in mind that my free hand is holding my Treo, scrolling lyrics. I’m amazing!
And then I hit the second chorus.
It was when I decided to jump onto the bar.
I don’t know what happened. But I can tell you that it’s really bizarre to see video poker machines under your feet.
As I did this, three things happened.
Sara and John were at a three-card poker table. “She’s on the bar,” Sara said to John.
“You know her?” the indignant woman next to her asked.
Sara immediately responded: “Nope.”
Ed and Vince are on the elevator on the seventh floor.
Ed: Do you hear that? It sounds like someone’s having a party.
Vince: No, I think that’s pamie singing a song.
[the doors open]
Ed and Vince: She’s on the bar.
The head of security makes a beeline for stee, somehow knowing that he’s my husband. “Fun’s over!” he shouts. “She’s out of here!”
AB took a picture the second I realized I was about to be in serious trouble.
I handed the microphone off before the song was over. (“Pamela Ribbons, everybody!”) The security man put his hand on the small of my back (which is when I really knew I was in deep shit) and led me away from everyone. I can hear them behind me, telling everyone that I’m not drunk.
It is at this point that I realize Vegas isn’t where you act like an asshole. Not when there are hundreds of cameras on you. This man is furious with me.
“If you had gotten hurt, it would have been my ass.”
“I know, sir. I’m sorry. I have to say, I don’t normally, I wouldn’t normally, I’m not… I don’t ever get in trouble. I’m a good girl, I’m really sorry.”
“We have marble bars here at the Westin. You could have slipped.”
“I know. I’m sorry. That was so stupid. I’m so sorry.”
“And it’s a distraction. This is a business establishment. People are gambling for real money here.”
Suddenly I realize how to pull off the perfect Oceans Thirteen. I keep it to myself.
“I know, sir. I’m so sorry. It was way too Coyote Ugly for this place.”
And then: he cracked a smile.
“I don’t know what happened to me,” I said. “We were just having a great time. I’m really sorry.”
He looked at me for a second and then reached out his hand. “You know, you really aren’t that bad of a singer.”
“Thank you. I’m sorry.”
“Okay. Let’s go back.”
Joe R says he’s never seen someone turn from furious to friendly so quickly. “What did you say to him?”
“I don’t know.”
Larry sang “The Lady is a Tramp,” changing the last word to “Champ,” and pretended he was going to jump on the bar.
Dan rocks the house with “Copacabana.” Someone asks Jeff if we have representation. Larry pitched a screenplay idea to me.
About two hours later, when Larry was done for the night and we were still wandering around amazed that we aren’t bailing me out of a jail, I decide to play a few hands of blackjack.
When I was done, the pitboss and the dealer pointed behind me. “You’re being watched,” they said. It was my old pal Security, who had become my best friend. He begins to tell me all about Vegas and security, how there were probably four cameras on me at that point.
“How many are there are on me now?” I ask.
“I’m really sorry.”
“I can tell you’re a good girl. You haven’t stopped blushing since I busted you. You’re from LA?”
I tell him where. His mother lives in our neighborhood. This is when he hands me his card. “My wife and I are going to be there for the next week, if you and your husband would like to get breakfast on the weekend.”
I wander over to the group and hold up the card.
“You got his digits?!”
So he hung out with us for the next couple of hours, asking us about our internet lives. He threatens to find a live feed of me on the bar to post to the internet, and tells us all about how I’d caused quite a commotion in the security room. Joe R and I quietly plan Oceans Thirteen.
I ask stee, “How did they know you were my husband?”
“I think I looked like the one most concerned with your safety. But then when you jumped on the bar you immediately steadied yourself with your hand, holding the ceiling. I knew you knew what you were doing. I kept trying to explain to them that you weren’t drunk. That’s just you.”
We went to sleep after five. A few hours later, Dan and I woke up to start our drive home.
“How are you?” he whispered.
“I feel like I should enter a detox program.”
“Why? Because you did some desperate, calling-out-for-help, grand gesture like jumping on a bar in Vegas, stealing the microphone from a lounge singer? Hmm?”
“What the hell? You can’t do that in Vegas. You really can’t. This isn’t Pittsburgh.”
“But you weren’t drunk. That’s just what happens to you when you sing Karaoke.”
“I’ve got to learn the world isn’t a stage.”
“But isn’t it, Pamie? Isn’t it?”