You could say this entry is a Flashback Friday, or a belated Throwback Thursday, or even a misplaced Saturday Confessional but, no matter how you categorize it, it is the true story of Why ghost_light Doesn't Do Karaoke.
My family hosted Japanese exchange students a three or four years in a row when I was a teen. A few of those Summers have begun to bleed together, a few of the girls stand out: Out-going Asako who also loved Fame and who knocked on my door one night declaring "Jenna," (I was always Jenna to her and, because all the subsequent girls went to her school, she told them all to call me that) "Jenna, I want to talk about boys!" and we spent the next hour, not discussing cute actors, but talking about her fears that her parents were going to put her in an arranged marriage when she graduated from high school. Our comedian, Kumi, who once stole my dad's glasses and sweater and clumped around the house in them until he noticed and then ran off giggling. Studious, smart Yukiko who, after passing the smelter in my hometown, spent half an hour and all of Kumi's patience trying to work out how to explain to us that smelting different metals could result in different synthetic stones.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when the invitation to come visit Japan came, not from Asako, but from Yukiko. We were both in college. I was studying acting, she was studying some frighteningly complicated branch of chemistry.
Japan was amazing. I loved her family, and they seemed very fond of me. Until the night they took us to a karaoke bar.
Now, in spite of all my years as a singing pirate at the Ren Faire, I am not a singer. I was a leading perpetrator in the Crooked Toad Tavern's 12 part harmony during those Faire years, and I didn't even have that much experience under my belt yet when Yukiko's father pushed the book of songs in front of me and ordered me to pick one. I already knew Father's word was always obeyed, but I tried to demur. He insisted. I protested. It became a THING quickly. You know, one of those huge, out of proportion THINGS where expectations are built and stakes raised until one person gets their way? Father got his way.
I got up there and screeched and howled my way though a seemingly interminable version of Stand By Me. What? What's that you say? It couldn't possibly have been that bad? Well, when I got back to the table, no one would look at me.
I had brought shame to my family.
To add insult to injury, Father and Yukiko went next and they sang opera. I shit you not, opera. Yukiko was still deciding between a career as a scientist and a life in the opera, it seemed, something I had forgotten from when she lived with us five years earlier.
I have done karaoke, under protest, a handful of times since then. I'm still not any good. Someone once told me I had the distinction of being the only person ever to transpose Chain of Fools into a minor key, but I still have a song I threaten to get up there and do if someone holds a gun to my head.
Last night, I joined the group of Theatre Conference folks who went to the Pipeline after the Fringe. There are two places to do karaoke in Valdez, one place is newer and clean, the Pipeline looks like a hive of scum and villainy, but the Pipeline has a better selection so off we went.
I listened to classics being murdered and staples being performed well, I joined the crowd in being mystified about a song about all the different kinds of pussy that can be found around the world and, dragging
Note, I don't say I sang it.
As soon as the opening chords started, some local guy basically pushed