Sunday, July 27, 2008

Karaoke, Scary-oke

There might be just one person in the world who sings worse than my sister, Jennifer, and that would be me. Although it could be a toss-up, since we’re both painfully tone deaf. And equally unfortunate since we both love music. But her husband loves to sing and he’s good, which is why we found ourselves frequenting Karaoke nights on our recent family cruise to Alaska.

There we sat in the Jammers lounge, paying $7.50 for watered-down drinks and kicking back to talented versions of “Friends in Low Places” and “Dream On,” alongside skin-crawling renditions of “Love Shack” and “You Light Up My Life.” Trapped at sea with fellow passengers plied with alcohol and giddy with freedom: prime conditions for offering Karaoke at its best and worst.

And after three chocolate martinies, I was ready to contribute to the worst.

“Let’s sing,” I whispered to Jennifer. She couldn’t have looked more aghast if I had belched “
God Save the Queen” in front of her Majesty herself.

“No way!” she emphatically proclaimed. But I noticed that, like me, she was on her third drink and therefore might be persuaded with the right song. And I knew just the song. I moved in for the kill.

“We can do it!” I pleaded. “We’ll sing ‘
Henry the Eighth’! It’s a short song and we know all the words.”

How could we not? The 1910 drinking song, made popular in 1965 by the British band,
Herman’s Hermits, was one of our childhood favorites and featured just nine short lines. Sung with a Cockney accent, could any song be simpler? Or more fun?

I'm Henery the Eighth, I am!
Henery the Eighth I am! I am!
I got married to the widow next door,
She's been married seven times before.
And every one was an Henery (HENERY!)
She wouldn't have a Willie or a Sam (OR A SAM!)
I'm her eighth old man named Henery
Henery the Eighth I am.

Second verse, same as the first!

Ah, there it was. I KNEW that look. Her resolve was weakening, but still she tried resisting. “It probably isn’t offered on the playlist,” she argued. That was all I needed. I raced to the program guide located next to the bar (coincidence? I think not) and scanned the pages. I returned to our table, triumphant. “We’re signed up!” I informed her. But then it was my turn to panic. “Oh no! I only know the first verse.”

Jennifer gave me this look that said, “You are such an idiot!" She reminded me of the song’s last line: “Second verse same as the first!”

Oh yeah. And then our names were called. And we would have been fine.

For it IS a simple song and hamming it up with Cockney accents, we were clearly having fun. Well, maybe too much fun. Because just a couple lines into the song, we broke into an uncontrollable fit of the giggles. And anyone who knows and loves my sister knows one dreaded, horrible fact.

When Jennifer laughs, she pees. And audience or not, this was no exception. She started to keel over and cross her legs and oh my gawd, Houston, we have a problem.

“I’VE GOT TO PEE!” she gasped through a flurry of giggles, forgetting that a mike was at her mouth. With one hand I yanked the mike to prevent any future shipboard announcements and with the other, held tight to her arm as she tried to exit the stage.

“Oh no you don’t, sister!” I gasped back in-between “Henery’s,” laughing so hard I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t wet my own drawers. “You’re not leaving me here alone!”

And remain she did. Not that she had much choice, given my iron-clad grip on her arm. We managed to finish the song to a thunderous ear-bursting round of applause, although I suspect the adulations might have had more to do with our impromptu side show. And yes indeedy, Jennifer did pee her pants. I can reveal this only because I would have done the same if not for my obviously fused-at-the-knees stance onstage. If it was obvious that the Mitchell sisters can’t sing, it’s now been made equally apparent that we also have weak bladders.

And know how to make our mark. Certainly in more ways than one.

Happy birthday, sis!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Not Ready to be the Mama of Obama

Okay, I’m about to reveal my issue with Barack Obama.

It’s not because he won the Democratic nomination over my preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton and it’s not because he is African-American (puh-leeeze). It’s not because he likes some rap (hey, I’ve been known to get jiggy wit it), or because some have accused him of straddling the fence over Israeli/Palestine relations. Unfounded, I think. It has nothing to do with his supposed “lack” of experience, nor do I care about his one-time refusal to wear a flag pin. Big whoop. And finally, my concern doesn’t stem from his long-term affiliation with a
whack-job pastor, although, I confess, that one did make me raise an eyebrow.

No, my bugaboo with Barack is far more serious. And worse, not only is his transgression unforgivable, but it is absolutely irrevocable. However attractive his other attributes, and there are many, I’ll admit, there’s not a thing our newly minted Democratic nominee can do to change this one fatal flaw.

The man is younger than me.

Bear in mind, just a little. A scant three years, seven months, which translates into 1,305 days or 31,479 hours (31,503 hours in a Leap Year) according to the Gregorian calendar, defined as the average interval between vernal equinoxes equaling 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes (365.2424 Universal days) per year, or a mere 1,890409.7 minutes per the current official definition of the second, which is the time it takes for 9,192,631 770 oscillations of the Cesium atom at zero magnetic field, based upon our 43-month age difference.

Not that I’ve given this much thought, mind you.

But hey, you have to appreciate my concern. My entire life, world leaders have always been wrinkly old crones sporting bow ties, support hose and shellacked hair. Even the handsome and charismatic John F. Kennedy looked like the
Crypt Keeper to my five-year old eyes.

Now, suddenly, we have a presidential nominee who is younger than me. This is a milestone moment, folks, and not one that I can easily ignore. When police began looking like extras from Disney’s High School Musical, I was fine. When doctors started resembling Doogie Howser, M.D., I l could look the other way. It was tough enough getting slammed with my first “ma’am,” or finding my childhood Chatty Cathy and Little Kiddle dolls for sale at antique fairs.

But when our future Commander in Chief is too young to know the words to the theme song from The Banana Splits Adventure Hour? I’m sorry, that’s where I may have to draw the line. Barack Obama could turn water into Boone’s Farm Strawberry Wine -- not that such a young ‘un would know what this is -- and he still couldn’t compensate for his one unforgivable offense:

Making me feel old.

However, there is one way our youthful Senator might make amends. Are you listening, Barack? I’m going to tell you how to reach out to people like me, who are still trying to adjust to that ultimate f-bomb (turning fifty). Okay, so maybe you can’t join your older constituents in a rousing rendition of The Monkee'sLast Train to Clarksville,” but I’m thinking a complimentary shot of Botox at the poll booth could help bring about a change we all believe in: cosmetic, maybe, but what the heck.

I’d give the kid my vote.
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