June 1st, 2006


Killing Me Softly

Last weekend in Ohio, I took Q out to a bar for karaoke. It's something she really enjoys, and is quite good at. (When we left at around 1 AM, someone followed us outside and told her "You can't leave! You need to sing another song!") I enjoy listening to her sing, and watching her having a good time. I even helped her with her selections.

It's a fun spectator sport. In between Q's songs, there were plenty of other people giving it their all – some of whom had more "all" than others. Some of them were quite impressive (including the guy who minced up to the stage, then turned all butch as he belted out love songs with pinache, then minced back off the stage. Quite a transformation.) Some of them picked songs I'd never heard of (nor wanted to, in some cases) or, at least, hadn't heard in a long time (Der Komissar by After The Fire). Some of them were simply train wrecks that you couldn't look away from, and it was fun just to whisper snarks as they performed.

Of course, I know exactly which category I'd be in if I got up there. I have no musical ability whatsoever. I can't carry a tune with handles, and the only musical instrument I can play with any skill is the FM radio. Still, one doesn't need ability to be a critic – Roger Ebert wrote the screenplay for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, for instance.¹ Since my singing voice (or lack thereof) qualifies as a WMD (and I've got the UN resolutions to prove it), I just sat and watched.

This isn't normally a problem. No sane person wants me to get up on stage and sing. I've had friends physically prevent me from entering bars where karaoke was occurring, when all I wanted was a drink.² I was also in a bar once in Ocean City when the clock struck nine, the TV programs were turned off, and the karaoke equipment was set up. Without a word, I was dragged outside and taken to another bar.

But Q, bless her dark and evil soul for endangering the lives and sanity of the people around her, actually and actively tries to get me to join in, climb the stage, and prove to one and all how much I don't belong there. Since she enjoys karaoke so much, she naturally wants me to get into it and enjoy it too (no matter what it does to everyone else). Plus, I figure she must be somewhat deafened as well as blinded by love.

She did get me to perform once (and only once) a couple of years ago (Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon) and yet still thinks it's a good idea to try to get me to do it again. She even picked out a song more-or-less in my exceedingly limited range (they actually had They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha Ha by Napolean XIV); but no dice – being a responsible parent,³ I hadn't had nearly enough to drink in order to get up there and boost the self-esteem of all the other singers.

And that's why Ohio is not currently quarantined by the Department of Homeland Security. Or just being nuked from orbit, which is the only way to be sure.

¹ I know I'll be stoned as a blasphemer by some of my friends (and my wife) for that comment.
² That's a lie. I never want just a drink.
³ Richard was, at the time, with his grandparents.

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