Thursday, September 30, 2010

How it all began, Part 2

So, I worked my way up to singing at real karaoke bars but still usually on slow nights and when the majority of patrons were already my friends. I got pretty comfortable singing in front of people we knew, one time I sang a song at a party at our house and it made every hair on my body stand on end. I felt like I gave birth to that song. Jon sent me an email saying it moved him. I was on cloud nine.

So the problem was I wasn't getting the same rush when I sang at a karaoke bar. Sometimes I'd glimpse it but it almost started to feel routine. I needed to up the ante. So one night I'm in a bar having dinner with some friends and the waitress randomly says "Are ya staying for the karaoke? We were voted best in Seattle." and I what I thought she said was "A news crew is coming Saturday." so I was kind of taunting myself with the idea of going back to sing in front of a camera. I reasoned that there would be tons of footage shot but only like 30 seconds used so what were the chances it would be me? Right? Yeah, but I still didn't want to run the risk of being recognized so I decided I would need to figure out some kind of disguise. The easiest and cheapest solution was to put on one of our full face snowboarding masks and be the karaoke terrorist. I thought this was an acceptable plan and announced it on Facebook. Luckily for me, someone pointed out that the night I was planning on being the karaoke terrorist happened to be September 11th.

I needed a new plan.

So I'm digging through our stuff and I have a hat with a generous brim, big dark sunglasses, my trench coat, a scarf... I was clearly missing a mustache. I almost bought a nice expensive human hair mustache that was designed to look realistic. I needed to attach it with spirit gum and everything! I am so lucky we are poor because the $1.50 totally completely impressively fake one that has a wire running through it so that I can form it into practically any shape is the most perfect accoutrement I could have asked for.

So, Mr E was born. I had been asking Craig to come with me to the Waterwheel Tavern for karaoke and this news crew. Thankfully he agreed to join me on this wild little ride because I can't imagine trying to walk into that place dressed as I was without some backup. We got there a little early, put in our song requests, ordered some drinks, and I periodically wiggled my mustache at anyone I saw whispering, pointing, or generally staring at me. Within five minutes at least 2 strangers complimented me on my mustache. By the time I was called up to sing I'm sure they were all certain that I was hiding behind this disguise because I was going to completely bomb. I decided I was going to put it all out there, sing like I was alone in my car, nobody would ever know except craig and somehow that felt safe enough so I picked a song I knew I could nail and I nailed it. All the sudden people are starting conversations with me, somebody takes my picture, people are curious and I am elusive and it is very very fun.

It is also very very crowded. Full of people who like to sing. The rotation was more than two hours PLUS, no news crew. =( So we decided to go after we'd had a song each. I dropped him back at his place but my itch hadn't been scratched so I decided I would stop at the Rickshaw to have another quick song. I was pretty sure they'd have the Fugee's version of Killing me Softly and that was what I really wanted to sing, it was my first big karaoke win and it's been my crutch ever since. So I pause in the parking lot and try to decide if I'm walking in there as me or Mr. E. I decide he is safer, put on my sunglasses and mustache and I'm on my way in the door.

The Rickshaw is a very random place, the kind of place that could be incredibly horrible but in an alluring kind of way- but they do karaoke 7 days a week and I knew it wouldn't take long to get one song in as a new singer so I jotted it down and as I was handing it to the DJ he says "Oh, we only have the Roberta Flack version." and I'm all "No deal." because I don't have any idea what that version sounds like and I'm not in the mood to make complete ass out of myself (says the person with a false mustache wearing sunglasses after midnight). He swears it's exactly the same without the rap beat backing and I ask him how sure he is and he says he's completely sure so I say fine and go order a drink.

While I'm waiting for my drink I am simultaneously asked if I am a transvestite and flirted with. The former by a drunk 50 something and the later by a drunk 30 something. When I had been jotting down my song the drunk 30 something came up and said he had veto power over my song so I should show it to him. I figured it was easier that reasoning with a drunk person so I showed him, lucky me- he approved.

All of the sudden there is a deafening shrieking and a bunch of ruckus halfway across the restaurant. I look over to see what's going on and there is a gaggle of early 20 something girls bouncing up and down and pointing at me. They are beckoning me to them. I am absolutely baffled. I pay for my drink and wander over. They all immediately stick their index fingers out and hold them underneath their noses like they have mustaches made of fingers and giggle. I Am Absolutely Baffled. Then sobergirl realizes I don't get what's going on and says, "Look, we have mustache tattoos on our fingers!" Holy crap, that is completely hysterical. It also made me absolutely certain I was in the right place. Someone even has one that's shaped exactly like mine. Many many pictures are taken. They put one of the tiny mustache tattoos on my driver's license to make my picture look like Mr. E.

My name is called. Twice.

I'm a little extra nervous because it seems like I've already interacted with more than half the patrons in the place. I don't feel anonymous. Still, it's only karaoke and I know this song like the back of my hand. But wait! What song is playing? The words I recognize are on the screen but the time I'm supposed to start isn't clear and I'm floundering a little but then it picks up... turns out the pace is a lot faster, there's an entire extra verse, and the ohhhhhaaaahhhhhhlalalalalala part is COMPLETELY weird. Maybe it sounds the same when Roberta sings it but karaoke versions being what they are, I did not feel it was my finest moment. Never the less most of the people in there chanted "Mr. E, Mr. E" as I finished and hooted and hollered like I was a rock star.

I walked straight out, high 5ing along the way, got into the car and enjoyed the little adrenalin rush I got out of not knowing the song before heading home.

It was such a unique experience and it made me wonder where it could go. I was hungry for more so I hatched a little challenge for myself. I would go as Mr. E to a different place for karaoke every night for one week. I had to sing at least two songs at each place. I couldn't sing the same song twice in the week unless it was an extra above and beyond the first two. I was excited to get started but we had plans for the following two nights. Mr E's karaoke tour would have to wait.


  1. Read it all! Awesome writeup. Subscribed, etc. You are going to do a whole blog on this?!

    Get someone to take photos! Or put up random semi-relevant photos from the internet. Worked for Beth's blog so well!

    Also, I think you have some kind of little HTML error in this post... I think maybe a tag got opened but not closed. See? The text gets bigger after you bold a word there. It looks a little better bigger, though.

    GREAT background pic!

  2. I might need some help embedding pictures. Also, I accidentally changed the font at some point and decide "bah" to fixing it.