This marks two straight days that I arose when my alarm first went off, and then, instead of my usual book and newspaper and raisin bran and computer and 7 a.m. Buffy re-run and sometimes that odd reality dating show that comes on at 5 in the morning but I really only watch because I like the Ladowsky woman who poses as a relationship expert, I actually got up, got showered, got dressed, and went into the office. The silence of the phone is a wonderful sound.
I've always been very good in the very early morning. That's when I can hit the road for cool hikes and productive fishing trips, when I can read a book and remember what I read, when I can write a brief without pausing for worry and writer's block. It's the time when my commute to work shortens by 15 minutes, for want of traffic.
When I am in the mode in which I do this a time or two a week, I wonder why I ever fail to get to work by 6:30 a.m.
Her smile stretches like bunting,
red colors draped across what might otherwise
be white, or even blue, as she pulls the lever,
totes her failures.
Skin-tight things don't fit her easily,
the inanimate wraps around the animate as if the
body were dead but stretched, and
the entanglement itself the living thing.
She's worn braver expressions than this,
burning longing hidden by affected longing,
the world's a cocktail lounge, and
she's merely a player, with a bucket of coins.
She's got Vegas eyes, but anyone with enough
mascara has Vegas eyes; She whispers something, and then horse laughs, but that
laugh sounds wounded, as if she's
long past pain and moving into torsion.
We went for a rather late dinner at the Japanese restaurant Sakura
in Frisco, one town over. Soon it transpired that Friday serves as karaoke night at this restaurant. At first, the notion of singing before strangers did not appeal. The crowd was very congenial, though--lots of college kids who could sing well, but chose to do fun stuff like a rollicking "Love Shack". Soon I was poring over the karaoke song book. What an extensive catalog this place had! But it was a pretty conventional retro set--no Joy Division, no "Lamb Lies Down on Broadway", "Born in the USA" rather than "Born to Run", "Losing My Religion" but no "Radio Free Europe", "Time" but not "Comfortably Numb", Blink 182 and Green Day but no Pistols and no "I Believe" and no "ca plane pour moi", and nothing by Rickie Lee. Hell, I would have settled for Echo's "Rescue". I debated inwardly---what would I sing? I looked long and hard at "I Can't Tell You Why", because I have always been vain about my falsetto, but I wasn't sure I could hit the very highest notes in my dotage, so I passed it by (n.b.: if they'd had "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us", I'd have sung it in the key of high high C if need be). Finally, I made my choice, the kind waitress took my slip of paper to the DJ, and I was in the line. One of the waitresses came and talked to us, and it turned out her *mother* was five years younger than I am. My wife and I discussed how few alto songs there really were for her to sing, as she has a rather alto voice. When we heard someone do a very workmanlike job of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams", we pored through the books for "Rhiannon". But the book only had "Dreams". I thought about doing "Little Red Corvette", and showing my inner Prince, as this was the song I chose years ago during our law firm retreat on a boat just off Marina del Rey. I believe that regular readers of this journal will realize that I am not the sort of person who immediately strikes one as a "Little Red Corvette" man, so it was a song with which I was able to bring down the house. But I wanted to try something familiar and easy but not quite purple.
Finally, after the entire University of North Texas voice department proved to me over and over how little business I have singing (although I did learn from one earnest fellow how impossible it is to keep up with the Velvets version of "Sweet Jane" during karaoke), my turn came.
Soon I was belting "Mama told me, yes, she told me, I'd meet girls like you...." and the rest of the words to Cheap Trick's "Surrender". Now most of the kids in the audience were not born when "Surrender" came out, and the giggles in the audience seemed to be folks who for the first time "got" the silliness built into the song. I look nothing like Robin Zander, but I can sure do his more rat-voiced vocal stylings. Note to self: work on more hand gestures than a cinematic rake of fingers through hair. I got a solid round of applause and a high 5 from the manager. But my wife said I should have sung something deep timbred, as screechy is not my best vocal tone. I'm not so sure.
I still wish they had had "Love will Tear Us Apart". My goodness, I just realized--I didn't check to see if they had "Linger"! Now I'll never get to feel my inner Dolores! Hey, and what's up with a karaoke machine that has "Changes", "Suffragette City" and "Ziggy Stardust" but no "Young Americans" or "Space Oddity". Ah well, I can't complain--after all, I passed up "Amie", "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Still Haven't Found what I'm looking For", so what right have I to complain?
The problem is that it takes much caffeine to keep me active enough to sing karaoke. I must have drunk 12 diet Cokes. Estimated next night of sleep--first Thursday in October.
Happiness is having a wife who can listen to a flat-voiced spouse sing karaoke and still mention the potential for karaoke at her firm's annual xmas party without a quaver in her voice.