So I’ve written about reaching into my desk drawer for a Chapstick and applying a glue stick to my lips instead. This morning, I very nearly swallowed an earplug instead of my multivitamin, which is similar in size and shape. I caught myself at the last moment only because the ear plug is florescent orange and squidgy.
I arrived at work today and realized I’d forgotten my vitamin. This happens more frequently than not, so I keep a stash of them in my bag. The earplug was thrown in there with them because I suffered through four hours of bad karaoke last Friday night.
Now, my ideal Friday night involves wrapping up in my ratty old red bathrobe and drinking too much red wine (at home, mind you). But my husband’s favorite cousin came to visit. He has a prestigious PhD in an esoteric field and tenure at a major university; you’d never guess that his secret vice is singing karaoke. Does this make him well-rounded and interesting, or just peculiar? He can at least belt out a song really well. When he comes to visit, there is nothing he’d rather do than hit every karaoke place in the area and cart us along with him for moral support (my kids would sooner chew their own feet off, like foxes in a trap).
This time he found a bar way up the canyon, since he’s a Facebook friend of the KJ who works there (yes, KJ rather than DJ. They say you can keep aging at bay if you learn one new thing a day; there’s your daily dose).
While not exactly a biker joint, it was definitely not the sort of place where you admit to having a doctorate in anything.
It’s a bar where you dress down, you don’t cop an attitude, you drink Bud Lite, and you don’t make eye contact with the heavily tattooed young man wearing carbines in his earlobes and attaching the full metal ketchup/mustard/napkin holders to them to entertain the crowd.
It’s a bar where, every 20 minutes, most of the patrons file outside for a Marlboro 100 or an unfiltered Camel.
It’s a bar where unaccompanied hard-drinking ladies dance together in a group. It’s a bar where, if one of those women grabs you by the hand and tells you to get up and dance, you do so (I’d not danced with a bunch of drunken floozies for decades—it was actually kind of fun. My husband knew better than to take pictures).
It’s a bar where everyone knows each other really well and conversation pauses slightly when Outsiders arrive.
It’s a bar where, while we were there, one heavy-set flushed florid gentleman completed the Chow Down Challenge: Eat a pound of French fries and a 5-decker, 2 1/2 pound hamburger with 6 slices of cheese and 6 slices of bacon in an hour and get it for free, along with a commemorative T-shirt and your photo on the Wall of Glory and lots of applause.
It’s a bar just like the dark dingy smelly seedy comfy blue-collar New England ones wherein I cut my drinking teeth.
I as Designated Driver took pleasure in watching the clock tick and noting details like these all evening. I also wore earplugs. I took pleasure in the earplugs, too.
My personal purgatory (my fear is that the Powers That Be tailor these things individually) will involve sitting through an eternity of karaoke — without earplugs, if I’m on the hell-leaning side rather than the heaven-inclined one. It strikes me as rather sad and silly and pathetic and lonely. All those VOICE wannabees slouch up to the microphone and stare at the teleprompter and sing at least half a tone flat in inaudible whispers or piercing shouts. Some stand rock still, moving only their lips, while others have jive moves down which you know they practice at length at home in the bathroom mirror. Very few can carry a tune and fewer still are sober. Good ones like my cousin-in-law are few and far between.
Yet, for many, it’s perhaps their chance at creative expression, their quest for art and beauty, their shot at redemption. Who am I to criticize?
I just don’t want to have to listen to them.
They don’t want to listen to me, either.
I got up and did a notably awful Linda Ronstadt, complete with a jive move to try and cover up coming in a measure too early at one point. If in doubt, do that Saturday Night Fever disco-arm thing.