Monday, April 16, 2007

Where We Belong

My younger brother was over for a visit on his birthday. We decided that we would go on a wee pub crawl and tour the illustrious drinking establishments that can be found in our little neck of the woods. Instead, we ended up giving him one of the most special birthday gifts ever: Karaoke Fighting.

Our first stop was a little pub called the Angerstein. When we walked in we immediately felt like the youngest people in the room (strangely when we left we felt like some of the oldest). Worse than that, however, it was Karaoke night - lest you forget Karaoke still upsets my stomach. We watched as a pair of ghoulish women were preparing the stage, while we quietly sipped our pints. We knew it was show time when one of the largish pair donned a pair of sunglasses and lit up a cigarette and they began to maim a Sugarbabes song (or some sort of rubbish like that). I would like to make this clear to all: wearing sunglasses in the dark has not actually been a cool thing since the Blues Brothers did it, so unless you are blind please refrain.

When the Banshees finished the sacrificial rite, the one with the shades and the cigarette and the superfluous chin got angry at the crowd for paying no attention to the piece of performance art that had just occurred. Strike that - everyone payed attention as there was no choice (one simply can't ignore a train wreck that is happening in the room one is sitting in), she was angered due to the lack of response, which I actually found to be a quite polite gesture by the tortured crowd. As the duo began another, I lovingly named the shaded one Uncle Fred.

The only other person that we saw sing at the Angerstein was an older fellow who did "My Way." The crowd liked it, and applauded quite graciously. This ired Uncle Fred who then berated us. No, really, she specifically pointed out the triad of which I was a part, this was probably due to the zealous applause we had given to the nightingale of a gent. As much as I loved Uncle Fred, though, my wife hated her, so we left as she began to do hari-kari on a Dixie Chicks number.

We moved on down the way to the Pick Wick. These pubs might be 3/4 of a miles apart, yet somehow it was Karaoke night there too. I was feeling as though my head might explode, but as we went into the pub I was put at ease. There on the stage a man was singing "An American Trilogy." This was good, we settled down to our pints and it all began to happen.

Recognizing us, the bar tender comes over and asks my wife (who has sung at this very establishment before) to do a duet with her friend who has no one else to sing with. The request was agreed to, and the little slip of paper turned in. Singing would commence.

Finally, Ricky and Kathryn are called to the stage. As the music begins and they chat about how this song should be sung, I notice a small commotion off to the side. It's mostly load talking but it seems to be growing. Uncle Fred would have been really pissed if people were doing this during her song (I can see her raging now). I see, though, that the bartender hasn't bothered to stop serving drinks, so I decide it is nothing. I was wrong, because, about then, Ricky, from the stage and into the microphone, says "Terry, mate, no..." and then begins to half heartedly sing.

The bartender is still serving and some older gentlemen have moved over to the small knot of people, surely this is nothing, but, suddenly, Ricky leaves the stage and bounds towards Terry as a bunch of men begin to do the push around the bar dance. Kathryn (with more demeanor than Uncle Fred) stands quietly with the Karaoke man. The melee swells as more and more do gooders jump in to keep the pugilists apart, but I sense that there is some confusion as to who exactly the pugilists are, but the bartender has still not stopped serving drinks (to the peaceful onlookers who watched over the fight much like those picnicers at Gettysburg long ago).

Then I hear it over the speakers, Kathryn has stepped in to do her part. The music swells and her crystal voice extends out an olive branch, "Love lift us up where we belong/ Where the eagles cry..." My brother is in hysterics and is clapping an laughing like an autistic child. Fearing the "what are you looking at syndrome," I request that he cease and desist. The bartender has still not stopped serving drinks. "...On a mountain high/ Love lift us up..." At this moment a man, a pool cue, and a bar stool all land at my feet. I think all three are broken, but he hops up and takes half of the pool cue back into the fray. I kick the rest out of the way. "...where we belong."

The bartender is still serving drinks. As thethe song ends they have cleared out at least one half of the problem as the fighting has stopped and Terry can still be sighted wandering about (having the priviledge of remaining he gets to tell his side of the story). Suddenly, Kathryn jumps up and runs over to the Karaoke man and then to another guy. I later find out that she had to go and ask the pub's owner for permission to do another song. She retakes the stage.

I wish my younger brother a happy birthday and apologise that we took him on a two pub crawl. The music begins, and on that crisp cold Charlton night, through the animosity of the broken glass and violence of the smashed stools you can hear her singing...

"Tuuuurm around, Every now and then I get a little bit lonely...."