Any of my friends can tell you that there’s one thing I’ll never say no to…. karaoke. There’s just something so fun and liberating about singing into a microphone for dozens of people, imagining that you actually have a talent. Hey, a girl can dream can’t she? The truth is, I’m a terrible singer. I’m not talking a little pitchy. I’m talking, people start to whisper (or yell) that I need to stop. My “fans” in the bar begin to turn on me and wrinkle their foreheads during the second verse. But I don’t care. I’m singing and famous for 3.5 minutes.
Last night was my work Christmas, er, holiday party. It has been tradition that everyone goes to the party and then the truly devoted head out to the real party… the after party. For some reason I’ve always been the person who orchestrates the after party. The thought of being surrounded by people who are just going to GO HOME at 9:30 sends me into a nervous panic. Nooooo! You guys can’t just go home?! I’m getting a nice little buzz here and we’re actually starting to have fun outside of the classrooms where we work day in and day out. Let’s keep this energy going and hit up a bar! Wooo! Well, that was me last night. I had convinced my table that we needed to head to a karaoke bar. We got up, gathered our coats, and I casually began spreading the word about the after party. After a few smirks, eye rolls, cheers, and awkward laughter, everyone knew about the after party.
About 12 people sat around 3 tiny tables we had pulled together. We listened to ear-piercing versions on the Grease theme song and watched half a dozen drunk girls scream into the mic and dance as if they were in a music video. This was my idea of a good time! We ordered drinks and I began to build up my liquid confidence. I had flashbacks of last year’s karaoke after party when I was with my co-worker singing “Baby Got Back” and shaking my money-maker. An encore was definitely needed. Yes, this was the night we’d all remember.
We mulled over the song book for what seemed like hours and then finally decided on a Britney Spears classic. It was settled. In an hour or so we’d be singing for the masses. We watched duets, soloists, and groups perform for a while. But then, in the bar bathroom it happened. I did a mirror check with some friends and that’s when she said it, “You need to lose the blazer. It’s very mid-twenties.” I did a glance at my friend, then back at the mirror. What? The blazer I had carefully selected to wear tonight made me look old? I had seen Kim Kardashian wear black blazers with skinny jeans all year. I thought I was stylin’. She suggested I lose the blazer. I had on a sleeveless top underneath and felt a little odd wearing just that. Maybe I did want to look mid-twenties. I certainly didn’t attempt to pull off 21. Now I was in a wardrobe crisis. Just as I walked out of the bathroom in bewilderment over the blazer issue, our names were called.
We marched up to the stage and grabbed the microphones. We were going to rock this. The first beats of Britney’s song played and we began to sing. We bopped around a little bit, sang the lyrics, and did some hair-whipping. While the other two girls were singing, here’s what I noticed:
1. People had turned away and began engaging in conversations.
2. I wasn’t dancing like I did last year. I was worried about looking like a drunk.
3. The guy running the karaoke business left his post on the stage and began to clean up his empty beer cans while we sang… while we SANG!
It became awkward for me immediately. I was having halfway to 50 nervous thoughts. Was I too old to be doing this? Did the blazer make me look old? Was Britney a bad song choice? Why is nobody cheering? Then it hit me. Everyone in the bar was about 21 years old. They were probably just taking a break from their rigorous studying. They were out to get wasted together and make bad decisions. I was there following a work party in my blazer with my husband. Wow. I’m closer to 30 than 20 now. I relate more to the 30-year-old people in my life than the people who are 20. Wow. We finished the song and left the bar.
On the way home I recalled singing karaoke in college. We screamed, sweat, and danced our way through great performances. We had the whole bar singing with us and were often asked for an encore. It was great! Now, it was just weird. Turns out karaoke performances are just one more thing that change with age.