Sunday, January 30, 2005

Mandatory Karaoke Situation

In my last entry, I mentioned practicing my karaoke song, in case I ever find myself in a mandatory karaoke situation.  Karen (mavarin) asks how such a situation might come about.

I actually once was in a mandatory karaoke situation, but -- as circumstances unfolded -- I did not, in fact, sing.

Several years ago (pre-Journal), I went on a small-ship cruise in the Great Barrier Reef.  It was shortly after September 11, so tourism was way down.  The ship had room for about 120 passengers, and there were only 60 of us on board.  (And I got a deal, let me tell you.)

I stood out, a bit, from the group.  With the exception of a very strait-laced British widow, I was the only one travelling alone.  I was also the only passenger with a SCUBA certification -- so they'd arrange snorkelling for everyone else, and diving for me.

I was also the only one on the ship who wasn't, er, um... well, let's put it this way.  Every night after dinner, they'd push the tables away and have dancing.  There was one couple -- competitive ballroom dancers from Australia -- who'd stay and dance, and everyone else would leave.  After the dancing, Daniel (shipboard Musical Entertainment Guy) would come upstairs to the lounge/bar area and play piano for a few hours.  But everyone had had their last drinks while the Aussie dancers were dancing, so the piano bar was dead.  With the exception of me.  I'll be damned if *I'm* turning in at ten o'clock.  So, I'd sit up in the lounge and shoot the shit with Daniel, the Bartender, and our Cruise Director.  All of whom pointed out that, usually, their passengers were a bit less ... dead. 

So, whenever our Cruise Director was looking for a passenger to get the ball rolling on something -- whether it was the limbo contest or the old pass-the-frozen-orange-from-under-your-chin-to-the-next-guy game -- I would always be the one he'd look to.  And I'd cheerfully oblige.  We sort of had an unspoken arrangement that I'd be the one who'd be game to try anything -- and he'd keep giving me free Cokes after hours.

Fast-forward to our third night.  After dinner, rather than pushing the tables back for dancing, they hauled out the karaoke machine.  The crew all got up to sing, and then asked the passengers to take turns.  Many stares in my direction from Daniel and the Cruise Director.  It looked as though they were actually pleading.

I flipped through the book of song selections.  There were only a couple hundred songs, and I couldn't sing any of them.  No, really.  None of the songs I knew how to sing were in there.  Trust me.  I know my limits. 

It got worse.  We were told that it was Shipboard Tradition that the Captain's Table begins the singing.  Oh look, guess where I'm sitting tonight!  I grabbed the book of song selections and went through it again -- this time trying to find something, anything, I could convince my fellow captain's-table-sitters to warble through with me.  By now, Strait-Laced British Widow is looking over my shoulder at the book, doing the same thing -- as she realizes the mandatory nature of our social obligation at this point in time.  We scan the book, while considering the demographics of our tablemates.  There's very little musical overlap among us -- even less when considered with regard to the limits of our song selections -- but British Widow and I agree that, in a pinch (which this most certainly was), we could drag the rest of the Captain's Table through a Beatles tune ("We Can Work It Out," I think) with dignity relatively intact.  I wave Daniel over and hand him our little scrap of paper, identifying our song selection to be added to the queue.

At which point a bunch of girls from another table stand up and start singing "We Can Work It Out" (having been bribed by Cruise Director with free booze).  Daniel gives me back our little paper.  British Widow and I sit back down, totally deflated.

Captain hands me the songbook again, now directly asking me to uphold the honor of the Captain's Table.  (Does he not realize that if I sing there will be nothing honorable about it?)  I go through the book for what must be the fourth time.  My standards have lowered again -- now I'm looking for something that meets only these criteria:  (a)  I know the words;  (b)  nobody has already sung it; and (c)  itis not a Madonna song.  I'm not finding anything and I feel like I'm letting the whole crew down.  I know it would be a disaster, but I actually start considering exactly how far out of my range "Like a Prayer" really is.

And before it starts, it's over.  After the girls from the other table sang "We Can Work It Out" and one guy hammed it up through "Can't Help Falling In Love," there were no more passenger volunteers, and Daniel packed away the karaoke machine.  The other passengers went to bed, as usual, and I went back to the lounge to hang with the crew -- and apologize for my failure to take one for the team.

1 comment:

andreakingme said...

Oh, Lord. You're braver than I am, NZ. The only times I've ever sang Karaoke, I've been drunk off my goard. I'm sure I was wonderful sight, just hilarious to behold, while my voice ... let's just say I have NO business singing outside the shower for an audience. I'm terrible. Couldn't hold a key for million bucks.

ANYWAY ... probably my favorite song sung to Karaoke was JOY TO THE WORLD (Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog). Man, I had such fun with that one. And me and one of my girlfriends sang Cyndi Lauper's GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN and we had a LOT of fun with that.

The best Karaoke rendition I've ever seen came from a throaty girl singing Carly Simon's YOU'RE SO VAIN. She sang it Sam Kiniston (Kinison?) style, swearing all the way through with plenty of 'tude and then some.