January 24, 2010
The evening started off fabulously. A dessert bar. Not on the 30×30 but it should be, because really, what a brilliant concept. A way to assert your grown-up-ness: “I’m almost 30, and I’m gonna eat a cupcake for dinner. No wait, I’m gonna eat TWO.” A good friend and a good chat. And then: karaoke.
No, no, no. I’m a planner. Karaoke is on my list and I’m a-gonna curate the shit out of how it happens. The perfect song. The perfect people to bear witness. The perfect outfit. I will not have just come from work and only have five hours of sleep and feel generally icky.
Oh, John Lennon. Life IS what happens while you’re busy making other plans.
For many, karaoke is not a challenge. But I’m painfully shy. I don’t like the sound of my voice, I don’t like people looking at me – I hate being the center of attention. I’m a peripheral girl. I like the edges. And I reallyreallyreally can’t sing.
My two friends, both karaoke pros, weren’t forcing me to participate. They were simply creating an opportunity. I could have just enjoyed their talents and saved myself for the perfect moment. But why? Why am I always waiting? Like sex, the first time will probably suck, so why not get it over with?
So. I sang in public for the first time. An oxymoron: mortifying triumph. I sang “American Girl” by Tom Petty, a song I’m fucking brilliant at wailing in my car with the volume cranked to eleven, but that I pretty much annihilated, failing to sing a quarter of it due to confusion over the lyrical and melodic progression.
My audience for this momentous failure was the bored Korean bartender, two drunkish girls (clearly tourists), and a dude who wandered in alone and was chatting up the tipsy ladies, perhaps hoping to score a threeway? Even one of my friends had left to catch her train. No one was paying attention to my glorious entry into the public sphere. No one was documenting for posterity that I OVERCAME A FEAR. I ALLOWED MYSELF TO BE HUMILIATED.
If a chick sings in an empty bar, does she make a noise – or actually risk embarrassment?
I have a deep-rooted desire for perfection, which I equate with planning (ahem, control), because how can it be perfect if it’s just thrown together? (Oh universe, how often you prove me wrong on this score, and yet I stubbornly cling to my need to plan. Though I’d argue that anticipation is half the fun.) But my need to so rigidly organize things and have them live up to a predetermined mental script is a bad habit. Doesn’t give life room to breathe. It’s a constant uphill battle of disappointment and self-loathing.
I had a vision of the perfect first karaoke experience. Perfect takes work. You need to plan perfect. On the other hand…
Perfect is boring. There’s no wiggle room. There’s…less laughter.
This was perfect, so perfect, in its own way. Its very lameness makes it brilliant. Sad, empty bar. Amusing potential ménage a trois. Two friends who inexplicably support my goals and push me toward them even as I try to blow it off for the impossible perfectly controlled moment. These are two strong, beautiful, unembarrassed women. They can sing. I shared an imperfect but tremendously special moment with them. An unexpected, unplanned, entirely in-the-moment moment.
Maybe planning is overrated.