Life lesson #321: karaoke is always a bad idea. The reason? Gremlins.
Gremlins are mischief makers who were first discovered in association with the problems of pre-modern combat aircraft engines. In the 20’s and 30’s, the internal combustion engine was still relatively new and tailoring it to the miracle of flight was a cutting edge, technological innovation of that time. Such advancement is, of course, problematic and although nobody has ever actually seen a gremlin, their existence was considered evident as fighter and bomber pilots attempted to explain unexplainable failures.
Like any creature, gremlins tend to adapt to changes in their environment and I believe with some conviction that one of the many habitats of the modern gremlin is the karaoke bar. The modern karaoke bar is ripe for mischief-making, and is thus tailor-made for gremlin inhabitants.
First, karaoke bars attract exhibitionists who are easily goaded into making spectacles of themselves. Second, in an environment in which bystanders become rock stars for three minutes at a time, average people are more likely to make themselves spectacles than they might under other circumstances. Finally, there is a plentiful supply alcohol, which lowers the inhibitions of these potential victims, making them more susceptible to the persuasive powers of these little guys, who lie in wait for those vulnerable souls.
You can almost see them as they whisper in the ears of these individuals: “Have another round.” Or “See that hot little number over there? She’s been eying you all night. Oh yeah; she wants you.”
Case #1: Last Friday I was at a well known Austin karaoke pub called The Common Interest. As is typically the case at this establishment, I was standing at the bar with my friend Fran nursing a beer and a scotch. I looked over at the stage to see a rather attractive woman performing You Give Me Fever. With mic in hand she began to gyrate and hike her skirt as though she were about to perform a strip tease. A crowd of drunken men began to gather in front of the stage as I watched the train wreck unfold.
Halfway through the song, three of her friends joined her on stage and followed suit. I was transfixed as the women behind the “performance artist” began to dip and sway, pelvis to buttocks in time to the music while fluffing their hair. Discretion prevents a more detailed description, but let’s just say that the drunken men in front of the stage along with Fran and I were not disappointed.
As they exited stage right, a very large, unattractive woman, Hester the Molester, approached me, leaned over the bar, and began performing The Bump against my right hip. Unable to ignore her, I turned and noticed that the first two fingers of her right hand were resting just above her cleavage in the v-neck of her pull-over top.
She began slowly drawing down the v-neck of her blouse to display her cleavage, and then, in a brash gesture, waxed existential: “Do you know why you’re here?” Nearly speechless I simply replied “No.” “Fate.” She retorted seductively as she lowered her left hand to my right thigh. A confluence of confusion and terror overtook me as I searched for an appropriate response.
Fortunately, one of the waitresses intervened and explained to Hester that she was blocking the serving station and ordered her to move to a table. A few minutes later, the manager, Katie, tried to usher Hester to a cab. She, of course, resisted. “I don’t wanna cab! I wanna drink!” Sensing the rebellious determination in her voice, I did what any red blooded American male would do: I charmed her.
Taking her by the hand, I said “Come on sweetie let’s get in the cab.” Without any resistance whatsoever she stood and followed me out to where the driver was waiting and, after pouring her into the back seat, I returned to my perch at the bar. The manager later thanked me and bought me a round for my assistance. That’s right: I helped a drunken woman into a cab and I was rewarded with free alcohol. I love this town!
Case #2: Some time ago I convinced my friends, Tom and Jeff, to visit another karaoke bar here in Pflugerville called Players. At the time they were karaoke virgins but were also in a bluegrass band, so they decided to be adventurous and give it a try.
The place is exactly what you would expect a karaoke bar to be in a little burg like Pflugerville. In this place, everyone knows everyone and everyone smokes. A Texas state flag hangs behind the stage and the furniture is kind of old. It’s also complete with pool tables where young men in cowboy attire engage in coarse, macho posturing and a shuffleboard table where old men like to congregate and demonstrate their prowess on the shellacked wood covered with fine sand.
We found a table for four in the back of the karaoke room and the three of us sat down, leaving a single chair free; to wit, send in the gremlins. 20 minutes later I returned to my table, after belting out a cover of Folsom Prison Blues, to find a guest. He was an older guy, with a tangled beard, unkempt hair and a generally disheveled appearance. Meet Chester the Molester.
On cue, Chester succumbed to the karaoke gremlins and decided that Jeff and Tom were appropriate targets of one of his twisted pastimes: feeling up strange men. Now here’s the weird part: I was completely oblivious to their frantic attempts to fend off Chester, as I happily sang along to familiar tunes sang by the various performers while he treated my friends like an amusement park ride. Fortunately for Chester, he left for another beer before I noticed any wrong-doing and he apparently became distracted on his way to the bar.
Jeff and Tom then related their tale of horror and as fate would have it, we didn’t see him again until we decided to leave two hours later. When it was time to go, we all climbed into Tom’s van; I was in the back and Jeff sat in the front. I strapped on my pistol and Jeff followed suit. Without any warning Chester jumped into the back seat next to me and demanded a ride.
Tom craned his neck from the front seat, raised his arm, pointed to the left side of his rib cage, and said “Hey Chester, take a feel here.” Chester eagerly complied. What he didn’t know was that is where Tom carried his 9mm pistol. As Chester suddenly became aware of this lethal hardware he gasped like a little girl and then quickly recoiled. Tom then amped it up to 11 and said, see that guy sitting next to you? He’s got a .45 on his hip and so does my friend next to me.
I watched with glee as the blood drained from his face. Chester slowly turned, stepped out of the van and simply said “You fellas have a nice evenin.”
It’s funny how quickly the behavior of even the most wretched degenerate changes when he’s out of the influence of gremlins and under the influence of three guys armed with serious firepower.