Some things are better suited for doing in the shower than in a public space: fantasizing about a threesome with Matt and Danny of Cruise Patrol, for example. And singing.
After an especially grueling weekâ€”â€˜tis the season after allâ€”my head is filled with visions of peace and solitude for Friday night. That is until a gal pal shows up on my doorstep with a six pack of beer and an invitation to join her and some others for karaoke night at one of the local pubs.
At first (or rather after the first, as in beer) Iâ€™m determined to remain faithful to my initial relax-and-retire-to-bed-early-for-once plan. But after the second beer, instead of showing my friend to the door I accompany her out and down the street to the pub.
The venue is one that Iâ€™ve never been to before but the dÃ©cor is ever so common and not exactly a hot meat magnet. But this isnâ€™t the kind of place where people go to get laid. Itâ€™s where people go to be heard.
Iâ€™m no stranger to karaokeâ€”I popped that particular cherry a few years ago, with the help of Olivia Newton-Johnâ€™s â€œIf You Love Me (Let Me Know)â€â€”and have been known to be a bit of a karaoke whore at house parties; probably has something to do with the phallic shape of the microphone and copious amounts of alcohol usually consumed prior to my taking to the stage (or living room floor).
I donâ€™t take it seriously. Iâ€™m not expecting to be discovered and offered a recording contract. But I quickly become aware that there is a sub-culture of people who do take karaoke seriously. VERY seriously.
The majority of the â€œperformersâ€ tonight are regulars, whereas I (as Madonna might once have said) am like a virgin here. One by one, each regular is called up to perform, be celebrated and as I soon find out, to be judged by the other regulars.
Not planning to sing this night, I quickly change my mind when most of the regulars start to make a second appearance on stage. As the 350 pound white gal butchers the funky Prince song â€œRaspberry Beretâ€ itâ€™s clear that I have nothing to lose with my own vocal styling.
After performingâ€”I use the term looselyâ€”the Canadian classic â€œHigh School Confidentialâ€ (by Rough Trade, featuring anti-diva Carole Pope) I go outside for a cigarette with my friend.
Many of the regulars have also assembled for a smoke outdoors, and Iâ€™m amazed at how self-important (and delusional) some of them appear. I try to mind my own business but can no longer remain silent when I overhear one gent being critiqued by another.
â€œYour second song was much better than the first,â€ he begins. â€œBut what you need to do is stop trying to sound like the person whose song youâ€™re performing. You need to focus more on sounding like yourself. Youâ€™re clearly not there but I really think you could be.â€
Who does this guy think he is, American Idolâ€™s Simon Fuller?
â€œWho the fuck cares how you sound?â€, I casually observe. â€œAll that should matter is if youâ€™re having fun.â€
The regulars look at one another like Iâ€™m speaking in a foreign tongueâ€”or in need of an exorcismâ€”as I put out my cigarette and return indoors to the last of my pint of beer.
Iâ€™ve sang my song. Iâ€™ve said my piece. Itâ€™s time to go home and take that shower. Iâ€™ve kept Matt and Danny waiting long enough.