I’m a pretty average guy, superficially at least. I’m average height, average weight and a pretty unassuming character in a crowd. I can hold a decent conversation on most topics and I believe anyone can become adequate at just about anything with practice. That being said, you’re stuck with a certain set of limitations in any given venture you choose to pursue. For example, I love to run but I’ve never been particularly fast even when I train heavily, maintain a lighter weight and cut out smoking. I’m pretty humble, backwards even sometimes, when talking to people I don’t know in a public format. But I will not sugarcoat that I have a superstar talent inside of me.
I’m incredibly awesome at karaoke. I’ve always had a good natural voice and, additionally, my dad was a vocal coach and I grew up on the other side of the wall absorbing the good, the bad and the ugly through no effort of my own. Also, psychologically, I have always felt at ease performing in front of people and communicating en masse rather than addressing or approaching a small group; chit-chat and the like feel superficial to me. So when I do get up there, I let loose.
Last night, in a Vets club in downtown Aliquippa, I let loose to Journey’s “Separate Ways”. People tell me I sound like Steve Perry and the reaction is always the same; mass applause from a crowd and one or several people that follow me around like my biggest fan, buying me drinks to keep me “limbered up” and requesting songs.
This would be really badass if the crowd at a place like this wasn’t always the typical 45 to 65 years of age. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve grown to know and really like a lot of these people. And the club didn’t take debit and I got kind of tipsy for absolutely free off the kindness of others. I don’t like handouts, but I’d turn around and another upside-down shot glass would appear on the bar in front of my seat indicating that a random bar patron had shown appreciation for my efforts.
Last night I even felt a familiar sensation on my back only to turn around to a 50-something woman rubbing her tits on me. I gave an uncomfortable look to the bartender as this somewhat-past-prime lady hugged me and kissed my cheek, saying she wished I was 10 years older. Luckily, a nice woman seated next to me at the bar said she was my mother.
That’s what people don’t realize. I feel completely unhinged up on stage singing, like a rock star with no inhibitions. When I’m done, I’m not being a cocky prick when I sink back into the crowd and jet for my seat. I feel like I’ve just gotten naked in front of a crowd and like I need to cover up. I feel like a self-aware Kenny Powers in Mexico…
Yeah, I’m like this at karaoke…except I feel shame afterwards
Then I sang “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. A really serious-looking, construction worker type came up and fist-bumped me after the first verse/chorus. An old man drinking what had to be scotch on the rocks gave me a knowing nod from the end of the bar closest to me. And a quieter, more sincere applause from the dwindling bar crowd arose when I finished the second song.
I didn’t have a single meaningful conversation with anyone in the Aliquippa VFW last night. Hell, I didn’t even speak to more than a few of them. But song and smoke and drink and pathos created the zeitgeist of the evening. And we’ll do it all again next week…