Friday night was the night I was free of office work for at
least the next six months and maybe for all time (amen!) if I am lucky, but six
months, that is good enough for me. So mo pie and I went out to celebrate with a dinner at the first restaurant I ever
ate at when I moved to California—unfortunately, it was a Pasta Pomodoro; fortunately, it was pretty tasty!
Except for the rubbery sausage—then riding fatty carts (our name for those motorized shopping carts) and then, karaoke.
The Mel-o-dee Lounge is—well, terrifying. There are people
who go there every single week, every Thursday and every Friday without fail to
sing the hell out of karaoke, and dance on the tiny little dance floor that has
been created by moving the pool table out of the way a little bit. You can tell
they are dedicated human beings who have given their lives over to karaoke by
the glow in their eyes and the fervor in their voices and the way they do the Hustle
to every single song that every single person sings, up to and including
"The Rose." It is a wretched little dive bar, and they make the worst
Manhattans that I’ve ever had in the history of drinking Manhattans, and it was
kind of beautiful.
Mo very touchingly sang for me a song about love and the
business, except I am not remembering what, exactly, the song was, because I
had been on my third drink and things were starting to go whee! around my head.
But I had to stay strong because we were due to sing "Copacabana" and
it could not be full of suck and failure the way we had previously been full of
suck and failure the last time we had karaoked at the Mel-o-die, where everyone
was just embarrassed for us. I went out to smoke a cigarette. A man came up to
me and introduced himself. "Hi," he said. "I’m Jim." He was
a regular. Was I a regular? No, I live in San Francisco.
"Oh!" he said. "Usually I’m here as my alter ego," he said,
apropos of nothing. "Oh really?" I said. "Yes," he said.
"I’m Captain America."
Captain America has the cape and the tights and the shorts and a shield. He came to the
Mel-o-die for his birthday! With his principal and the other teachers—he teaches
third grade. He came in his regular clothes, but left briefly, and came back as
and everyone was amazed! Then, he drank seven kamikaze shots and went to throw
up on his truck. The cops were going to arrest him, but then they realized they
couldn’t arrest Captain America!
And that was his story. Okay! I said. I’m going to go sing
And we did! And everyone danced. Mo went to go get us
drinks. The bartender leaned over and said "This is going to sound really
weird, but…these drinks are on Captain America!"
We love Captain America,
because he is such a gentleman.
We drank and drank and drank and our hearts were happy! I
sang "Don’t You Forget About Me," except I was drunk and started to
fail, and I gave the microphone to a guy who knocked it out of the park, and it
was an exciting celebration. We danced! A tiny man said that I danced like
someone from the fifties and that was so nice! I went out to smoke again, and an
old man was telling me about his cats. "Oh really?" I said, and
realized I couldn’t quite focus. I shut an eye. Then, I shut the other eye.
Then, I realized I couldn’t quite stand. So I sat. And the guy kept telling me
about his cats, and I remember trying to nod and show that I was so interested,
but I could not make my head work. Stupid head.
Then Mo was there, helping me up, and people were all around
and we were going home and it was so nice to sit down and we sang karaoke,
didn’t we? We sure did! We did not get to sing "The Gambler" because
two Manhattans was one Manhattan too many, even though one was supplied by Captain
I curled up on Mo’s futon, and then, I was asleep. And I was totally going to get
home early enough to pack, and I was, I realized, totally going to miss the Mel-o-dee Lounge.