Last night, our friends and local social directors offered what one partygoer later described as the “perfect antidote for the winter blahs”: a “serenade your sweetheart” karaoke bash in their living room.
“I’m so looking forward to this,” I told Cyndi a few days before she hosted the party with her husband, Tom. “I’ve been so low lately.”
“Me too,” she said. “And I knew I would be. That’s why we planned this for February.”
Managing to down 16 jugs of wine, seven cases of beer and four bottles of vodka throughout the course of the evening, other attendees also seemed ripe for some revelry. “Clearly we needed a winter excuse for a party,” Cyndi posted this morning on Facebook, as she swept up the rubble.
Walking into the Rickards’ house last night, where music throbbed, lights pulsed and cases of beer littered the front porch, I felt like I was back in college, nudging my way into a fraternity party. “People keep telling me they can hear us down the block,” Cyndi said. “I’m afraid the cops are going to come.”
Thankfully, they didn’t, at least not while my husband and I were there. Overseeing high school athletic contests kept Jeff working late last night, so he met me at the party. And since we both had to drive home, my husband and I could not partake in the shots fluidly circulating the room which Tom and Cyndi had cleared of furniture, storing it in a neighbor’s garage to make way for dancers, singers and a rented karaoke jukebox and strobe light system.
Devoid of sufficient liquid courage, my husband and I also avoided the mics. “I love to dance,” I told a friend. “But I can’t sing, and I certainly can’t sing and dance at the same time.” I was amazed at how many other middle-aged frolickers seemed to manage both.
One posse offered an inspired Go-Gos “Vacation” rendition. A few minutes later, barely glancing at the lyrics’ scroll, another pair of ladies crooned, “I don’t know why,/You’re being shy,/And turn away when I look into your eye eye eyes.”
“What’s this?” I asked a fellow onlooker.
“A new boy band—One Direction.”
I made a mental note to check them out. I have. They’re good. And so were the moms belting out “What Makes You Beautiful” last night.
“Karaoke makes you smile,” someone said, gazing on.
“Or cry,” added another reveler, breezing by.
I couldn’t resist joining in from the sidelines on some Taylor Swift. “Ooh, we called it off again last night/But ooh, this time I’m telling you, I’m telling you,” I sang along with the rest of the room. A friend rolled her eyes, watching her husband.
“The problem is he thinks he’s really good at karaoke—and he loves Taylor Swift.”
“I love Taylor Swift!” I cried.
“Me, too,” she admitted.
Cyndi had her own confession to make: She and Tom had practiced “Rosanna” earlier in the day, after the karaoke machine had been dropped off and after they had deposited their kids at her parents’. The Rickards did a certain justice to Toto at the party, but their high note was a romantic, sharing-the-mic version of “Islands in the Stream,” accompanied by several other couples.
“I think I could do better after a few more beers,” Tom later said.
“I don’t think you’re the first person to say that,” my husband observed. “That’s why karaoke was invented.”
The Japanese or whoever did come up with this pastime, however, should’ve drawn the line at heavy metal mid-life crises. One pair of fellows roared out Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man,” while another set took a stab at Judas Priest. “If you think I’ll sit around while you chip away my brain/Listen I ain’t foolin’ and you’d better think again,” they boomed into the mics, releasing their inner beasts.
“I listened to a lot of Zeppelin in high school,” one of them told me afterward.
“Yeah,” I said. “But that was mainstream.”
“I know,” he glumly replied. “I wish I’d hung out with the kids with the Iron Maiden backpacks. But then again, I wouldn’t be here today,” he added, cheering up. “I’d be with them—in prison.”
He left to pay his babysitter who was watching his toddler and 6-week-old infant. And a short while later, when the lateness of the hour forced my husband and me reluctantly toward the door, a crowd was just finishing a rousing version of “American Pie.” Windows were cracked to ventilate the steamy room, and as we stepped into the 20-degree night air, I could hear partygoers headed full-throttle into a Neil Diamond group sing-along.
“Good times never felt so good!” they shouted.
‘So good,’ I thought. ‘How true.’