Sunday, December 19, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 994: Country mice, big city, part deux

The plan was to go to live band karaoke Saturday night after we finished with supper, which we were through eating at 7:30. We headed back to the hotel after a detour to Navy Pier, which was a dumb idea because if you want to be warm in Chicago in the winter, you do not walk toward the water. Plus Navy Pier is just a big generic mall on the inside anyhow with the added advantage of perhaps the slowest-walking people we have ever encountered.

(Yeah, I was short tempered. Why do you ask?)

We got back to the hotel and that's when SH informed me that live-band karaoke didn't start until 11:00 p.m., which he had told me before many many times but which I had somehow remembered as 9:00 p.m. because my mind recoils at the idea of being

1. in a bar under any circumstances because I hate noisy, crowded, smoky places and sure, there's no cigarette smoking in Illinois bars any more, but when are they going to concentrate on the other parts of bars that make them so odious, like the noisy and crowded part? and

2. awake at 11:00 p.m. unless I am reading a book of the caliber of Lonesome Dove, which if you've ever read, you know is a book you just don't put down until you are done and why hasn't Larry McMurtry written anything else like that although The Last Picture Show is pretty darn good, too.

So yeah he had told me 11:00 but my brain had translated that to "9:00," which was perhaps my brain's way of protecting me from the trauma of anticipating going out so late. I had already accepted the "noisy crowded bar" part because how do you get out of that? When I had my musician boyfriend, John, I would take a book with me to his shows so I had something to do when he wasn't playing. I was informed that it is not exactly bar culture to read a book in a bar, but I didn't and still don't care. The only reason I was in the bar was to hear John play and I couldn't have cared less about listening to anyone else. He was worth it.

But when SH reminded me that it was indeed 11:00, I heaved a great, loud, tragic sigh and perhaps emitted a few wails to accompany the sigh. He told me that I didn't have to go if I really didn't want to, but how often should a wife play that card? I decided to save my Get Out of Jail Free for some other time, although I did offer to let him put his finger in my bellybutton if he would go to the bar alone. (He declined.) If only there were a way to watch him sing without having to listen to anyone else and without having to be in a bar.

We left the hotel at about 10:30 so we could get there in plenty of time for SH to be one of the first singers. The bar was only three miles away. I did point out that even though the band was supposed to start at 11:00, bands operate on Musician Time, not CF time, which is to say they would not be starting before 11:30.

And I was right, which was a good thing because have you ever driven in Chicago on a Saturday night? Open the dictionary to the word "congestion" and you will see a photo of Milwaukee Ave in Chicago. The street was full of cars looking for non-existent free parking and cars waiting patiently - Patiently! that's the part that amazed me - sometimes midwesterners are too darn nice - for the cabs that stopped IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD to pick up passengers. Is it in the Chicago Cabbie Code that other drivers must be inconvenienced as much as possible? So what that there is plenty of room to pull over to the right! Let the other drivers eat cake!

We were not moving and not moving but were within three blocks of the bar.

"I'm going to walk there and get you on the list," I informed SH grimly. I hopped out of the car and walked briskly yet carefully because remember the icy, snowy sidewalk situation? to the bar. I breezed right past the bouncer, who did not bother to ask for my ID and why is that, I ask? Do I really look my age? Does my Clairol Natural Instincts #24 Clove not conceal my middle-aged-ness?

The band was just setting up. At 10:55. They were nowhere near ready. Why was I not shocked?

I found the karaoke guy, who said, "The guitar player isn't here yet* and he has the list."

I grabbed Karaoke Guy by the collar, lifted him off the floor, and growled, "Listen, buster. My husband and I drove from Milwaukee just so he could sing here tonight. I am staying up late for this even though I wanted to sleep. He has had a crummy week and is trying to fight his way to a parking space and by golly, I want him to sing first."

Karaoke Guy pulled away, rubbed his neck, and said, "I can't put him on the list if I don't know what he's going to sing."

"Come Sail Away," I said.

"Not on the list tonight," he smirked.

"But it's on the website!" I protested.

He shrugged. "Not tonight."


OK, that's not exactly true. I asked if SH could sing first, they said, "Sure! What does he want to sing?" I told them "Come Sail Away," they said, "Not tonight Josephine," so I said, "Suspicious Minds" and they said, "Dude!" because they are musicians and think that everyone calls everyone, "Dude," even though that is not the case in adult real life.

I found a table and waited for SH, who arrived in a few minutes. The bouncer took one look at him and looked away. We were older than the average customer, which means nobody has been lying to us our entire life to build our self esteem, a fact that becomes important later. We were also more sober, which also becomes important.

At 11:30, the band finally started. Karaoke Guy sang first, then called SH up. SH was a little worried because he hadn't warmed up and because "Suspicious Minds" is a hard song to sing, but he was his usual wonderful self.

It pretty much went downhill from there. The next singer was adequate. The next one was excellent but thought that suggestive hand placement enhanced her singing, which it did not.

After that, it was nothing but bad. Drunk people think they can sing, apparently. They might think that sober as well because of a lifetime of 11th-place ribbons, but SH was the only sober singer. Yes, I know the point of karaoke is to have fun and more importantly, to keep people in the bar and buying beer, but wow. There are some spectacularly bad singers out there and now everyone knows who they are. Bad singer + drunk singer = bad experience.

I did enjoy watching the hip, ironic dude with the hip, ironic big white-framed glasses who was on a date with a girl who could do way better than him if you ask me. Even with his hip irony, he couldn't take the bad drunk singing and left even sooner than we did, but that might be because he had already finished his beer. SH did not want to waste his beer and I am OK with that because I am of the Tribe of We Who Do Not Waste.

SH sang with a band and he was great and maybe this summer, he can do more singing with a band. The End.

* Guitar Player Syndrome, the original GPS.


LPC said...

I must say, I rather enjoy your take on night life:).

TosaGuy said...

"We were older than the average customer, which means nobody has been lying to us our entire life to build our self esteem, a fact that becomes important later"

Brilliant line.

Alan S. said...

Yeah, if only bars weren't so crowded, then a lot more people would go to them!