"Singers" is, of course, a polite reference. I became intimately familiar with them after a co-worker, who was an extrovert par excellence, invited my wife and I to the club in Alexandria, I believe, where she worked part-time as a KJ. That's right, a Karaoke Jockey. It was more than a couple of years ago and I remember how awe-inspiringly weird it all was. I sat there in the club drinking what they called gin, with my mouth agape as though I were watching a circus side show.
I had to keep reminding myself that these were "ordinary" people who carry on otherwise ordinary lives and livelihoods. That they weren't paid performers of the sort that pack the green room of a typical Jerry Springer show. My co-worker was typical among them. By day a very competent contract specialist. By night, a howling, hollering KJ, exhorting the crowd not to hog the book (lists of songs that would be played in special Karaoke format that provides the "singers" with the song lyrics and the other popularly known utterances of the song displayed on a video screen).
I spent the evening trying to figure out who was more mad, the singers or the people who egg them on.
So it was just recently in a Solomon's Island resort hotel nightclub. I was trying to explain to my mother (we were there celebrating my sister's 25th wedding anniversary) why I was so concerned about these people. They are borderline psychopaths, I told her. What possible difference to me could it make if these people get up a make fools of themselves? I explained that these people are not just drunks who are fulfilling some long dead dream. They are stone-sober serious about this. They have one of these Karaoke machines in the rec room at home. And they practice singing these songs! They practice singing while looking at the lyrics on a video screen! They are not singers, nor do they want to be singers. If they did, they would have voice lessons and would know the lyrics by heart. The only difference between them and Robert DeNiro's character in Taxi Driver, was that the taxi driver used handguns instead of a Karaoke machine.
So they are not practicing to sing a song. They are practicing to sing Karaoke "songs." They schedule time to go to the local Karaoke club. They connive to get to the book first and get their names in. The sit and wait for their turn, trying to remember how their "OOoooo,, OOOOooo Baby, Yeah's" sounded.
What possible harm could come this fetish? Remember, these are ordinary people. Any one of them could be at the controls of your next flight, or in the tower. They could be in the operating room monitoring your blood pressure, or, God forbid, behind the scalpel. They might be thinking of landing the plane or making a clean cut. Then again they might be thinking about their last Karaoke performance, and how you resemble the balding bearded guy who burst out laughing as you tried to hit that high "ooo..OOOO...baby!"
So the next time you find yourself laughing at a Karaoke singer, think of Robert DeNiro coming over to your table and asking "Are you laughing at me?"
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