Flashbang Memories #3

I’ve sung Karaoke once in my life. Really.

When I was a kid I loved to sing. Chorus, solo stuff, even a brief stint doing singing telegrams when I was seven years old. If my high school had a glee club, I would have joined it. If a friend had a guitar and would play, I would sing along. I just knew I’d be in a band someday. And I was in a bunch of them, mostly forgotten, when I was taking myself far too seriously during college.

I had a nice voice- nothing amazing, but it had some weight. As a kid I was a boy soprano, during puberty my voice avoided doing the standard cracking & breaking thing and I was a high tenor (my father daydreamed that I’d become a Wagnerian tenor), and by the end of puberty a high baritone/low tenor. In college that voice would be nearly wrecked by smoke and drink and poor microphone technique…

But before college, I went out for pizza one night. This was during my floundering years in high school- an awkward time for me because I was equally drawn to girls my age, and to hanging out with my guy friends playing D&D and with Legos; which was about as far from female contact as could be imagined.

One night instead of driving out to Podjo’s house with Shelby & Matty for pizza and yet another night of the Leading Edge ALIENS board game (god that game was awesome, I miss it so), I found myself at Maggie’s Pizzeria with a small group of girls that liked to drink beer. Believe it or not, at this point in my life I didn’t drink beer myself.

The trick was, being as we were all obviously under-age and without fake IDs, the trick was to get to Maggie’s during the dinner rush, get a table and order a lot of food and then sort of loiter, eating slowly, until after 9 when they started carding at the door, selling cheap pitchers of beer, and running a karaoke machine.

Now not only did I not have a taste for beer yet, but I was also behind the wheel of my mother’s Honda Civic, so I stuck to Dr. Pepper. But I was sneaking cigarettes at this point in my wasted youth, so after a few Camels or Lucky Strikes or Chesterfields or whatever vile crap I was suck on then (a pack would last me 2 months, back then) I decided- bored of the beer sloshed female chatter at the table- that I would sing a song.

I sucked down two cigarettes in rapid succession and launched into Joe Cocker’s Feelin’ Alright. Talk about a song that fit my voice.

Turns out the karaoke night was a contest of some kind, and I won us a free pitcher and a free pizza. The girl I was hopelessly & pointlessly infatuated with got stupid drunk and spewed all over my lap and the interior of my mother’s car.

I never sang karaoke again, mainly because there isn’t a lot of Shane McGowan, Tom Waits, Kristofferson or Mighty Mighty Bosstones on Karaoke machines.