“When was the last time you did something for the very first time? What was it that you did?”
Well I could go on at length about the experience of retiring for the first time, but I’m too busy living it to want to talk about it. Instead I will talk about singing karaoke in public for the very first time, which was a year or two ago.
I went with a couple of friends to a place in another town, in another county – no witnesses I knew – to a little joint on the outskirts of a bigger city. One of the friends knew when they had karaoke but had never gone there before. He used to sing on the karaoke circuit, or whatever you call it, and it had been awhile since he’d sang so he wanted to burn the carbon out of his vocal chords. The other friend and I had never sung karaoke before, and she had no interest in starting.
The place was what I call a hick bar, out in the boondocks, all the locals come there and all know each other and probably have a honkytonk history – everybody sleeps with everybody after a certain period of time – so we were coming into this cold. All three of us are pretty laid back people, so none of us would be challenging the locals or acting like a fool to get a pool cue upside the head, so we weren’t too worried about our safety.
In the back of the place was where a large dance floor and the karaoke setup was. The host was very entertaining in that he was both emcee and singer of tunes between when people signed up on the list sang. There was a huge notebook with probably 10,000 or more songs to choose from, of every genre and decade, all broken down by both artist and song name. There was a sizeable number of people there. We were sitting at the big table closest to the karaoke station. (please see my rough-drawn layout of the place) The other big table was full of what looked like one extended family, and we found out later that they were one big extended family – and they all sang karaoke – and they were all really good!
My friend, Bill (name changed to protect the innocent), immediately got his name on the sing list. He has his standby songs so he had one ready to put on a slip and turned it in; then he got busy looking through the songbook. We had front row seats, which was pretty cool, considering how busy the place was.
We listened to each member from the table next to us, as well as others who came up. They all did at least a fair-to-middlin job with their selections. The emcee had controls to adjust the volume of the music and/or the singer’s voices, and when the singer was more on the weak side, the emcee provided backup vocals.
Bill finally got up and did his song. He actually had a good voice and was quite comfortable up there singing. When he was done, he came back and found songs and then put his name and song on a slip and gave it to the emcee. He then pushed the book over to me and said pick one out to sing. My first impulse was to say no way I can’t sing, but he persisted. I found a song I knew pretty well. I said, “If I get up there, will you go with me and we can sing a duet?” He said sure, so I filled out the slip and handed it to the emcee.
When my name was called, up we went. We were each given microphones and a smile. I looked up at the tv facing the dance floor and waited for the words to start. We started singing, but I could not hear my voice. It quickly struck me that you have to throw your voice and sing strong if you want to be heard, and my voice wasn’t up to the task. Thankfully Bill picked up the slack.
We stayed until the end of the night, and Bill was able to sing quite a few songs. On the playlist over the evening was a wide variety of tunes. There were a couple of raunchy ones never heard before, including one where the guy was singing about the females in the bar showing the guys our ta-tas. The guy was standing 5 feet away from us and the fear factor started creeping in as he had a leering drunken grin on his face.
It took courage to go to a new town, in a new place full of strangers and get up there and sing. Was it an exciting and fun adventure? Heck yes!