Friday, February 13, 2009

Who let the cats out? (who? who? who? who?)

So in the spirit of getting out of my comfort zone once a month I recklessly accepted an invitation to a Karaoke evening yesterday.

I have successfully avoided participating in Karaoke for over 20 years. Even in its hey day, where every bar and party featured the dreaded sound system, TV screens, microphones and books of song lists, I have never once found myself drunkenly or otherwise stepping to the fore and serenading the crowd with my dulcet tones. Yesterday that was all going to change.

I felt prepared. I have been inducted into the 'singing in public' club over the past 5 years, although my repertoire is strictly limited to Wheels on the Bus and maybe an encore of Old Macdonald. At a stretch Happy Birthday to Yoooouuuu. But still, that must count for something I reassured myself. Although my passionate rendition of these evocative and timeless tunes is usually performed with the eyes-shut-arms-outstretched stance (a la Celine Dion) I had never witnessed small children or their caregivers being forced to cover their ears and leave the room. I was confident that my talent had been honed. How could I possibly fail to wow the crowd?

The first challenge was staying awake late enough for the event to start. It is not typical for my evenings to start at 9pm...given my early starts I am more likely to be heading up the wooden hill to beddy-bye's land. Ever the professional, I had a coffee at 3pm and then topped up the caffeine levels with a diet coke around 7pm. Okay, feeling a bit perkier now.

The second challenge was choosing an outfit. Actually, that's not true. The challenge was getting into my outfit, which was going to require at the very least a stick of butter, a shoe horn and a lot of breathing in. I have these new jeans you see. They're a little bit more 'fitted' than I am used to. The phrases 'leaving nothing to the imagination' and 'camel toe' spring to mind. No wonder my wardrobe is a mess now I'm single. I am so easily seduced by a 'half-off' sale sticker and the over-enthusiastic sales pitch of a 50 year old male sales assistant exclaiming 'they're rockin'!' than how the item actually looks in the mirror or whether I can physically walk, sit, breath when wearing it. It took me a good 10 minutes to persuade the jeans over my thighs in the changing room and the only reason I persevered is that I had reached a point where I knew it would take just as long, if not longer, to peel them off. When, after laying on the floor in an effort to inch the button just a tad closer to the button hole, I finally succeeded I approached the sales guy to ask for a larger size. It took me quite some time to make this approach. It's difficult to walk when your legs are poured into an unrelenting organic denim casing as unforgiving as sheet steel.

There was no larger size. And so the sales spiel began in earnest. 'Oh my, they fit you perfectly - that's exactly how they are supposed to look. You certainly don't want them to be any bigger on you'. Well, yes, I do actually. I can't perform the most basic of physical functions and my legs look like a couple of over stuffed sausages. The waistband is so tight it is already forming a welt and I am about to be garroted at the hip. If I were to risk sitting down I would cut off all circulation from the pelvis downwards and have no feeling in my legs. But there was no smaller size - and these were half price for goodness sake (never being one to resist a bargain). I consoled myself that the phrase 'mutton dressed as lamb' still hasn't really taken off in Chicago and, if I ever dared to wear the jeans in public, I might generate many a raised eyebrow but at least I wouldn't hear echoes of BAAAAAAA in my wake.

I finally had them on and surveyed myself critically in the mirror. They looked ridiculous. Whatever. They were on now and I didn't have the fight left in me to remove them. I chucked a short dress over the top, confident that at some point in the evening the undoing of the button would be required - to enable me to breath and to prevent said button ricocheting off during my performance and taking out an innocent bystanders eye. I dollied myself up - covering up all signs of sleep deprivation with a tube of heavy duty foundation and quietly thanking the heavens and stars that the venue would be dimly lit. I was ready. Fame, fortune and vocal adoration were surely just a matter of hours away...

The evening didn't quite progress as I had envisioned in my (over active) mind. I had planned to consume a fair amount of liquid confidence before being persuaded to the stage, but within 10 minutes of arriving I had been dragged to the mic for a duet of the Pet Shop Boys 'West End Girls'. This would not have been my first choice of song. Or my second. Or even my 100th. But a part of me thought 'oh for God's sake, get up there and give it what for woman. How bad can it be?'

Good question. Answer? Bad. Very bad. Finger nails on a chalkboard bad. Similar to Lorraine Chase singing wildly-out-of-tune-on-crack bad. But worse. Much, much worse.

Turns out I am not much of a singer and there is a reason why I have avoided Karaoke like the plague for all of my adult life. I. Am. Rubbish. Make no bones about it, I cannot carry a tune at all. It has been verified beyond a shadow of a doubt, and with the added testimony of many witnesses, that my 'dulcet' tones should at no point in time be amplified over a sound system and exposed to a public audience. On reflection, whilst I hate to be negative and describe any new venture as a disaster, I don't think it was a sound move (boom! boom!) towards my current goal of making new friends and potentially snaring a man. Unless they were deaf.

Still - nothing ventured nothing gained (and it really was a case of nothing gained). I wonder what I will do to make a fool out of myself next month?


  1. I cannot sing at all. Though it sounds perfectly fine to me when I do sing. I am constantly reminded of this fact by hubby, so there is no risk (except perhaps copious amounts of alcohol) that I would expose the world to it in karaoke. Fortunately, my daughter is not so discerning and is quite happy to let me sing all the nursery rhymes in existence. And she has not inherited my tone-deafness, for which I am very grateful.

    Good for you for trying, though!

  2. Well I know that you can sing. In fact, I've heard you many a time and I don't care if the songs were all children's songs, that still counts.
    But well done for trying.
    I was dragged to Karaoke when I was at college - once and only once.
    Never again.

  3. Given that our voices are practically identical, I think after reading this I will stick to the wonderful acoustics in my bathroom.

    If you did sing badly (which I just cannot believe...) I think you could blame a) your jeans (not your genes); b) the song (along with 2 million others that aren't in our "range"); and, c) the fact that you have just recovered from a dreadful cold.....

    You should have heard me at Sing and Sign yesterday - crying babies everywhere....

  4. Ye gods, karaoke? does anyone sound any good on karaoke?
    what possessed you woman!
    I'm betting you can sing Wheels on the Bus and Baa Baa Black Sheep with perfect pitch though . . .

  5. Firstly, I have actually pinged a button off jeans before. Luckily didn't blind anyone. This is why I invariably walk around with my jeans button undone. I should possibly lose some weight or move up a size.

    Secondly, I used to think I had a good singing voice. I sang in the Mikado and Brigadoon at school and was in the choir for five years. Then I went to a kareoke bar several years ago. I was drunk. I sang Abba's Dancing Queen. I started singing and promptly stopped. 'What was that godawful noise?' It had stopped so I started singing again. There it was again. That noise. It was like someone throttling a goat under water. Then I realised that it was me. I couldn't believe I was so awful. All those years at school and my teachers had been lying to me. My family had been lying to me. I was one of those people who go on X Factor believing they're brilliant while the rest of the world laughs at them.

    I haven't performed kareoke again. Nor will I ever. But well done you for trying. And long may the jeans button hold.

  6. Tasha - Yes,people have described me before as being very trying...

    Mums the word - Thank you for your kind words, tho it is blindingly apparent to me now that, like many of my friends thankfully, you are tone deaf!

    Kabbalah - bathroom acoustics, so that's the secret!

    Tara - they did have some Spongebob songs actually, as well as Rugrats. Maybe I should try that next time round.

    HOM - Very funny! Glad to hear someone had a similar experience. I was also in the choir at school and even sung a solo in the school play once. Must have been the dodgy mike. Forgot to mention that the second song I dueted was Dancing Queen...poor, poor Abba. That song must to tortured to death in many a karaoke bar all over the world.