sing out loud

Overheard this weekend as I walked back to my table after finishing a heartfelt rendition of “A Natural Woman”:

Guy #1
That’s hot.

Guy #2
That’s Hot?


I was talking about this with Dan last night, how I always enter the Karaoke joint thinking, “Tonight I’ll just play it cool. Sit back. Enjoy the show. There’s no need to act like a moron in front of all these people.” And then half an hour later I’m rolling on the floor, possibly touching my crotch.

“Oh, I know,” Dan said. “It’s how we met.”

This weekend I was going to “play it cool” and ended up onstage no less than six times. I touched strangers. A group of hipsters in 80’s gear danced in front of us so we couldn’t see the stage. I stole their hats and gave them to other people. And they let me. The last time I was at this particular establishment, the girl who couldn’t stop dancing like she was both Romy and Michele became the centerpiece of my rendition of Pearl Jam’s “Black.” I crawled between her legs and we got to at least first base.

A) Why do I do this?
B) Why do people continue to let me?

Let’s go back to those boys who realized what I did wasn’t exactly “hot.” After the Pearl Jam incident, I believe Todd’s words once he found a way to close his mouth were, “Holy shit balls.” See, it’s not exactly a compliment. People just need to say something that means, “Well, you don’t see that every day.” People aren’t sure what to do. Ask Wendy. She has a few things to say about going to Karaoke with me.

We even did it online twice, causing server crashes and several trash-talking-filled forum pages. At JournalCon (which I’m saddened to find there are many terrible photos of me singing, if you do a simple search in Google). Who goes to Vegas just to sing Karaoke? We do. Who goes to a Karaoke bar for almost seven hours straight? We do.

It is the only time I’m not thinking about what I look like or what people think. I am not planning what will come next. I don’t even let it bother me when I’ve forgotten the words. I just want them to laugh, to clap, to dance, to sing along. I don’t even really see anybody when I’m up there. I will sing with the DJ. I will take your beer and drink it. I absolutely lose it. It is the only time I’ve ever taken off my shirt in… no, wait. That’s not true. There was that one Mardi Gras. But I kept my shirt on that time — just lifted it. The night we sang at Club Deville, I took off my shirt and handed it to Ray. What is wrong with me? I have no shame. It’s like grown-up recess. From that first time I sang at the Karaoke Kove, to last weekend at Gower Gulch, something happens to me when I’m up there. I don’t get that way from drinking. I’m not that brave when I’m onstage doing comedy or acting. I never lose my sense of self until there’s a microphone in my hand and a backing track. Then I’m Courtney Love without the scars.

It’s Tara’s birthday today, and I’m not kidding when I say that the reason karaoke’s in our wedding plans is mostly because she requested it. Tara actually asked for it at the reception. I immediately had a glimpse of what that would look like — all of my friends fighting for one microphone and eight books of bad songs. Allison singing Aretha until half of the crowd is too intimidated to follow her. Blynch and Ray finding the dirtiest song in there and incorporating puppets in the act. Sara M and Rebecca Davis fighting over a Janis Joplin song. Djb and Chuy wondering who will get to the Lionel Richie first. Hilary groping three people before her song finishes. And then me, the bride, rolling on the ground doing the first version of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” in actual VMA costume.

And I thought to myself, “That’s brilliant. But we should do it the night before. That way it won’t be interrupted with cake.”

I can only hope I keep it slightly together this time. Oh, who’m I kidding? We have the bar to ourselves. When it’s all over, I can only hope people still want to attend the ceremony.

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