Friday, January 13, 2012

Wisconsin 101: Early Bird karaoke

You guys know that SH and I have a mixed marriage and that one of the mixes is bedtime, right? We disagree on other big issues, like politics and religion, but disagreeing on bedtime affects you every day, not just during an election or during Wisconsin 2011.

I would be happy with nine or ten hours of sleep a night, starting at 10:00 p.m. SH thinks that five should be enough for anyone. Isn't that what caffeine is for? And if he never saw daylight again, he wouldn't mind, especially now that he is taking megadoses of vitamin D to accompany his Eye of Newt and other daily potions. Were we living four hundred years ago, he would be stopping at the apothecary for a mixture of ground bat wings, dried beetles, and unicorn dung.

"It helps with the prostate, you know," he would tell me as I turned away in horror and returned to peeling my potatoes (they had potatoes by then, right? post-Columbus?) or threshing, winnowing, and grinding my wheat and rye to make bread and hoping that the rye hadn't gone bad and turned to LSD.

Yes, we are at the age where words like "prostate" come into our conversation occasionally, as do the laments about what to do about Ear Hair and Long Eyebrow hairs. (Don't pluck them. Trim them. That is what we have learned.) We reached a milestone a few months ago when he had to pull one of my chin hairs because I couldn't see it. The joys of being a nearsighted person who is developing farsightedness.

All of this is more information than you wanted, although I know some of you are nodding and saying, Preach, sister.

So. The staying up late thing. SH is perfectly happy to stay up until 2:00 a.m. I haven't done much of that since my immediate post-college years and that was when I could still sleep until noon the day after.

Now, my body has become a finely-tuned machine that wakes up with the sun and the cats, who start to whine as soon as they hear any movement from the bedroom, which means sneaking out to the bathroom and then back to bed is almost impossible unless you can sleep through a whining cat who is convinced she is going to starve to death despite all evidence to the contrary which I cannot, even with earplugs.

Not wanting to go out late has kept me from accompanying SH to karaoke. I love to hear him sing, but I don't want to have to stay out late to do it.

We found the perfect compromise.

Old People - and I say that with affection as we are joining the tribe - Karaoke.

Old People Karaoke (OPK) starts at 7:00 p.m.

Seven real people time, not 7:00 musician/SH/football time.

This is Wisconsin. People here get up early, you know.

We went to the Chinese restaurant that hosts the OPK - we didn't know it was OPK before we went - we thought it was just K - and discovered that we were the youngest people in the place and we're not exactly spring chickens.

The good thing about getting older is that you don't care what people think any more - in a good way, which means that if you like to sing then you're going to sing and so what? You got a problem with that?

Only of course no old Wisconsin person would ever be that aggressive as to say, "You gotta problem wit dat?" They would just shrug and say, "Well, you know. I like to sing." And the other person would say, "You betcha," which can be used sometimes as the northern equivalent of "Bless your heart."

The good thing about old people who are bad singers is that they still pick good songs. I would rather hear "After The Loving" sung badly than "You Gotta Fight For The Right To Party" sung well. That's something that Old Wisconsin People (OWP) and Madrilenos have in common: even at their karaoke worst, they still pick good songs. Young Wisconsin People, bless their hearts, sing some awful music, but OWP sing Frank Sinatra and Neil Diamond and Madrilenos sing old Spanish love songs that make everyone in the bar sentimental as they link arms and sing the chorus together.

SH, of course, knocked it out of the park with "Kiss and Say Goodbye," although his fake Southern accent at the beginning talking part of the song cracks me up every time. SH is not a Southern accent kind of guy, but he does get a nice, deep graveliness to his voice in that section before he jumps in with the falsetto start.

I was thrilled that we were out of there by 10:07, with SH having sung three songs. We heard the 90-year-old man in the suit and bow tie sing "My Way" and the guy with his own special karaoke shirt - emblazoned with "Acapella Al" on the back and adorned with flashing guitar-shaped buttons and a pin that ran the script "Thank a vet for his service" - sing "Okie from Muskogee." There was not one single rap song, not that rap is so bad, but it has to be executed properly and I think we can all agree that this was not the crowd to do it. Not one single heavy metal screaming song and I'm not even going to try to say anything nice about heavy metal - I mean the extreme stuff, not the guilty pleasure AC/DC songs. Not one whiny song. Just nice old songs, some well sung and some not so well sung but all sung with enthusiasm and happiness and isn't that a nice way to spend an evening? I think so.


Anonymous Mother said...

You betcha!

Fijufic said...

I can't wrap my head around karaoke for I have always accompanied myself when I sing or have done it with actual bands. I'll bet it is fun.

AS for the old age issues? I feel like you all have stolen my playbook.

I hope this year finds you in good spirits. Your posts are priceless.


Rubiatonta said...

Asian business people also love a good ballad, I found in my days of business travel to that part of the world. Though it never ended at anything that resembled a decent hour, and often involved brushes with alcohol poisoning, it was always fun to see my colleagues crooning away, channeling their inner Frank Sinatras (and his Korean/Taiwanese/Japanese equivalents).

Class factotum said...

Fuji, SH loved live band karaoke, but it's hard to find around here. I think he should find a band to sing with, but his work schedule doesn't give him that flexibility. Thanks for the compliments and happy new year to you, too!

Rubi, I think there is an artist in everyone struggling to get out.