Husband’s First Karaoke

Achievement: #50. Rock Tuesday night karaoke

Every couple has one of those near-deal-breakers in their marriage, something that one partner loves so very dearly yet the other partner, it seems, will never, ever understand.

For us, that issue is the song “Rock Lobster.” Michael is just like, ‘Who cares if they have matching towels??’ He just doesn’t get it. It’s a damn shame.

But if I had to pick a #2 issue, it would probably be karaoke.

For the record, I am pretty intense about my karaoke. I am the type of person who, when she knows she will be going to karaoke later that evening, spends an inordinate amount of time preparing for the night. I’m not just talking the marathon outfit/hair/makeup planning sessions that my BFF Rachel and I used to put ourselves through. I would scan my iTunes playlist methodically, searching for any song that was in my range, clever, a crowd-pleaser, and preferably accompanied by an awesome dance in the music video, which I could then perform during the musical breaks (have you ever seen the video for “Papa Don’t Preach?” it’s harder to do with a wired mic than you would believe).

My husband, on the other hand, is terrified of doing anything that he wouldn’t be absolutely flawless at in front of another person, and he doesn’t have the best voice. It took a few years of marriage for him to feel comfortable singing in the car with me. There was no way in hell he would ever get up in front of a group of people and sing the latest Justin Timberlake song.

At the time that he and I met, I was regularly going to Tuesday Night Karaoke with Rachel and my karaoke-obsessed friends at this fantastic bar called Alexander Graham Bell’s in Homestead. We had a really dedicated DJ who updated his song list weekly, and would play theme songs for us and everything (“Foxy Lady” was always mine, as back in the day, I still thoroughly owned the nickname my friends gave me). The place also served these perfect $5 Long Island Iced teas in the milk bottles that were formerly placed on doorsteps, which helped our confidence a lot.

Since Michael was so intimidated by the thought of karaoke, I kind of dropped out of that circle, always holding in my heart a secret sadness for those days. I would read reports on Facebook of what songs Steve or Tony sang that night, and I would get a little wistful, but then push the sadness away. That was a part of my life that was over, I had to remind myself, like the other things I’d had to give up in my new, relationship-life like flirting with bartenders to get free drinks, or staying up too late drinking boxed wine and sleeping on the floor of Rachel’s dorm.

But when we moved to Los Angeles, we could no longer avoid the karaoke magic. We lived just down the street from Sardo’s, which hosts the famous Tuesday night PSK. That stands for Porn Star Karaoke, and it is exactly what it sounds like. The Valley is the adult film capital of the world, and on Tuesday nights, all those stars just want to let it hang out… vocally. And sometimes dressed as clowns. (The Clown Porn DVD release party that we happened upon accidentally is a subject for a different blog.)

Add to this that one of our dearest LA friends loves karaoke too, and it was inevitable that we go. But Michael would never sing. He watched the rest of us, porn stars included, sing our hearts out and act ridiculous and dance around to 1980s hits on a semi-regular basis, but never would he sing. No matter how many porn stars got up and performed Disney classics with full dance numbers and back-up vocals, my husband would not sing. I had to just take what I could from the situation, and focus my thoughts on the fact that I was at least allowed to indulge in my favorite pasttime, even though my husband would not participate.

But in 2010, things had to change. We had been back in Pittsburgh for a full two years, and there was nothing stopping us from returning to Tuesday night karaoke. It was now hosted at a different bar in the South Side, after the fall of Alexander Graham Bell’s, but the same amazing crew still went most weeks. The only issue is that Tuesday nights are on the cusp of my work schedule: I’m either off, but working two 14-hour shifts the next two days, or I’m just finishing up two 14-hour shifts at 10pm. This made for some horrible timing (it’s hard to cram that whole multiple-hours-of-getting-ready thing into fifteen minutes after my shift ends, I’m not going to lie), but finally, through the magic of a vacation day I had scheduled on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we finally made it out. And this time, Michael sang.

I kept my return to karaoke simple with a little “Papa Don’t Preach.” There’s a lot of vogue-ing to be done in this song, you just have to use your opportunities.

This is Steve. He rules at karaoke. He flew all the way to Los Angeles to come to PSK with us once! And he won a t-shirt! Which got stolen in the mail. 🙁

For my second song, I tried out a new one and sang “Grey Street” by DMB. This is when I remembered that on the album version, there’s a third verse (which they no longer play live). Oops!

To compensate for the look of sheer confusion on my face as the third verse began, I threw in some Dave-isms at the end, notably, “There will be gravy also.”

But no amount of introduction will prepare you…

…for Michael’s karaoke debut!!! He sang “Roxanne” by the Police. He claims he can only sing in falsetto.

Oh, will you look at the intensity!

I like to rub it in, all the missed opportunities he had in his life by foregoing karaoke until he turned 27, but so far, the joy of his first karaoke performance is overshadowing pretty much every other emotion in his life.

Plus-one point for wife.

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