I am a self-professed connoisseur of good beer and good conversation. It isn't much of a stretch to figure out that my yens occasionally, (once a month or so), take me to a few of the local nightspots to indulge in an ice cold import and some lively banter on anything from current events to the mating habits of the mythical Latvian hermaphrodite yak; a conversation that generally takes place closer to last call.
One of my favorite haunts, in an attempt to draw in the "younger crowd," (apparently we old farts drink too slowly and rarely attract "A" list women), decided to add Karaoke to their list of attractions in an attempt to give the place ambiance.
What was wrong with pinball machines?
From what I later glommed from the experience, (once my hearing was restored), is that by simply adding a teleprompter, huge PA speakers and massive levels of alcohol, even the most tone deaf DMV drone can
become Elvis Presley.
Having somewhat of a stellar reputation in the aforementioned pub, (I've never stabbed anyone there and have, on a few rare occasions, patched up a couple of the stab-ees), I am usually afforded the corner stool, (the one without the blood stains and with the near level legs).
I must have done something to anger the owner, an extremely large, yet witty gentleman named Thrash because, upon mounting my throne the other night, I found that a rather large speaker had taken up residence on the wall beside my beloved chrome and vinyl steed; and at ear level.
The electronic nightmare remained silent during the earlier part of the evening while we, the middle aged denizens, partook of the two for one happy hour specials, (in clean plastic cups; one of the benefits of getting there early). I was getting stock tips from Ray Ray, the resident wino who sweeps the floors and takes out the trash for beer, when a booming voice in an octave high enough to shatter glass, (that explains the plastic cups), began warbling what may or may not have been "Sherry", by Tommy James and the Shondelles. Unfortunately, the only resemblance this rendition had to the classic tune was the words.
Having my nether regions shaved with a cheese grater would have been considerably more pleasant than what I was now forced to listen to. More to the point, all hopes of hearing Ray Ray's tip of the day were dashed.
I was witnessing a bloody train wreck but, like a moth to a flame, I couldn't look away.
The next budding crooner, a rather well adorned young lady who was having a hard time navigating to the stage, had all eyes in the house on her as she gyrated and belted out an almost passable version of Tammy Wynette's, "Stand by Your Man" over the catcalls and requests for her to "stop the grinnin and drop the linen," (I sometimes get mildly boisterous after a few beers).
Ray Ray favored us next with an Otis Redding classic that, I'm certain, had Mr. Redding rolling over in his grave.
By now, I was certain it was time to call it a night. Knowing I was slightly
over my limit, I asked Thrash to call me a cab.
"Ok, you're a cab!"
I told you he was witty.
Unfortunately, cabs are hard to get on a Saturday night and Thrash was quick to inform me that it would be at least an hour before a cab could be dispatched. He did, however, offer to give me a ride home if I didn't mind staying until things slowed down a bit.
I should have walked home!
In a never ending cycle, inebriated impresario's from all walks of life took the stage to favor their adoring, blotto, fans with chart topping hits of every variety. Everything from big band to hip hop jangled my every nerve. Their alcohol induced bravery propelled even those with the meekest of personalities to the stage to take their turn at the alcohol and spit stained microphone, showcasing their heretofore unheralded musical ineptness for the drunken masses.
I was inches from sticking an ice pick in my ear to save my sanity when none other than my boss, in the company of someone other than his wife, took the stage to secure his moment of fame.
Things were looking up!
Being a writer, I am always in possession of a small tape recorder to capture any brainstorms I might conjure up when I'm away from my laptop. Short term memory is one of the first victims of middle age. My close proximity to the speaker made capturing the audio portion of my sure fire ticket to the corner office as easy as taking candy from a baby. As if Gladys, the patron saint of middle-aged bar denizens, were riding on my coat tails, Mr. Big and his ditzy side kick stood nuzzled and cooing, cheek to cheek, as they spewed forth with a bone numbing version of "I Got You Babe."
How apropos! I was thinking that very same thing!
Thrash got a picture of the smiling couple with his camera phone to add graphic visuals to my presentation, and promised to email it to me for possible inclusion in a vacation or promotion request somewhere down the line, (don't look at me; Monica started it!).
As the evening neared it's end, for some inexplicable reason, (probably the effects of the alcohol), the balladeers actually began sounding better. I had a feeling that Thrash was bringing in ringers in hopes of giving the tone deaf something to aspire to, and a reason to come back next week.
Don't despair, however. The evening ended on a high note. As a treat to the remaining patrons, I took the stage to favor my adoring fans with my impeccable impersonation of Elvis' Pressley's, "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You." The roaring, standing ovation that followed my final note had me floating back to my stool on a cloud until I realized that highlights of the Clemson game were being aired on the widescreen TV beside the dance floor, and the applause was for a beautifully played touchdown.
Clemson six: me……mortified.
When I returned to my stool, slightly dejected, Thrash was kind enough to bring me a final beer for last call. Smiling, he said, "Man, I love that song. Who did that?"
"Elvis sang it. Why?"
"Well next time, let him sing it, OK?"
Thrash should take his act on the road. Needless to say, he's off my Christmas card list. Besides, the next time I need a ride home, I'm sure the boss will be more than happy to pick me up in a limo.
See you at the Grammy Awards.