Last night, I witnessed an attempt at an international romantic intervention along with some overt-Asian-superiority complexes.
But is first: Karaoke.
Karaokeing last night was mostly an abortive affair.
The grain of the idea came from my time in the TeaSpot, sipping mugs of a brew what would later give me a mild allergic reaction and listening to mopey white boys sing.
And, as they sang, I began to recognize their white-boy music and sing-along in the attempt of my conscious mind to sabotage any attempt at reading a decent book.
But as I sang along to this mopey white-boy music, the passion in me for Karaoke reignited. I loved to make an ass out of myself, trying to sing songs, it was like a video game but one where you could impress your friends and see other people show off their “Wonderwall”-singing “skillz”.
I hadn’t been in a while and later that day when good-man Frank confessed in me that he had never participated in such a singing event, I decided upon myself to rectify that. After all, not only was it criminal that Frank as a Roman Catholic/Jewish/South Korean had not participated in Karaoke, but we would have a good time, thus redeeming myself for the previous night’s ills.
So, I attempted to orchestrate a night of Karaoke, which sadly, fell mostly apart. People are hard to coerce into Karaokeing. It costs money, involves embarassment and generally involves at most New York locations, massive interactions with potentially-unwelcoming Asians.
My friend Matt Chao, a bible-studyin’ nerd-fest of an Chinese-New-Jerseyan, had taken me out with his dauntingly-cool-Asian girlfriend Sophia to a place in Chinatown for some songs, only to discover the hostility of the people who worked there given my non-Asian friends and also the lack of English songs readily available, most lumped in with badly-translated names (think, You Drive Me Nervous).
Anyway, Matt who was supposed to come was busy with his aforementioned Bible-Koreans, the group he studies with. A slim, pretty, ballsy-and-blunt girl I invited claimed homework issues that I grumbled at as I knew we had President’s Day off. Even Frank ducked out at the last second claiming 30-minutes-prior to our proposed meeting that–suddenly–he had no money.
Still, Pete came over and, eventually, Ant Jones and I figured why get down on myself when booze and transliterated song-lyrics were forth-coming. We prepared to sing.
A second for Ant. Ant is a sort of anomaly, welcome among every group of my friends. A hoodied product of mailman and mailwoman, Ant provides a nerdy-black-WoW-playing counterpart to my sort of hijinks and seems such his own person wherever he goes that he is instantly beloved, with his otaku‘s wit and comically cute braces. He is probably the one person I’ve met at NYU I’m sure I could take anywhere.
With this motley crew of red-Jew, ex-football player and Ant Jones, we hit up the Karaoke bar to much disappointment.
It turned out that after two songs, we met with the discrimination of the owners. We sat in the lounge of the karaoke bar and so it was a round-robin uspposedly of who would get to sing a song. But after two songs from our table in English, the next 25 minutes was spent listening to the worst kind of Chinese Pop music imaginable, with accompanying music videos featuring shirtless-hairless Asian dudes and at one point what appeared to be a pre-pubescent Asian-girl-pop-singer write “you+me” on a blackboard only to draw a line for it.
Well, I suppose you couldn’t accuse it for lack of symbolism.
We figured out as a table we were being discriminated against, but we were split on the reason. I thought it was because we were not-Asian and that the management was toying with us trying to effect our egress. Ant however, using his sharp observational skills, argued that the terribleness of Pete’s karaokeing skills were the factor.
Pete had been terrible at Karaoke before, off-beat, off-rhythm and I had berated him the last time we went out for not “taking it seriously”, something that now sounds so asinine that I actually feel bad about it. But this time, Pete was even worse when he tried to sing “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M. He sounded he like he didn’t even know the beat or the intonations of a song we had just talked about as we were walking to the bar.
At the time, I just thought Pete was bad at Karaoke. Looking back today, it struck me:
Wait a second, Pete is fucking DEAF.
I had forgotten that Pete was mostly deaf and required a hearing aid to hear. He probably couldn’t even hear the music in the background. he might not even known what the music sounded like, or worse, he could have a completely different conception of what it sounds like given his experience of hearing.
So I had berated a deaf person on multiple occasions for his lack of Karaoke skills, a new high point in my life.
Anyway, we finished our drinks, miffed at the discrimination, and headed out to Dan and Najia’s anniversary party.
There we drank beer and champaigne at their apartment before heading out to a terrible, but un-crowded, Irish bar down the street. It was about this time, maybe after our first beer that Pete went up to me and asked me about the girl sitting next to Dan at the party.
“That’s her boyfriend next to her.” I told him. “But please can you try to hit on her anyway.”
The girl in question, who I’ll refer to as Ally, I had known for some time, hanging out with Dan and Najia. She was beautiful in an interesting way, her look a mix of features from her multi-racial background. She was talented, interested in differing forms of photography and writing her major tailored to the courses she took. And, she was totally mismatched with the guy next to her.
Sometimes this happens I know, you’ll see a 6 and a 9, usually in guy/girl formation and it’s easy to explain in the chambers of your mind. Well, you think, he must be famous or rich or well-connected or maybe she just has some hideous psychological disorder, no biggie.
But the guy Ally was with, who she had been with for quite some time, was, at best, unfortunate-looking.
As someone once put it to me–“He looks like his face is melting.”
Now, this girl wasn’t to my tastes–Whatever receptors I had weren’t attuned to that, perhaps out of some sense of self-preservation–but other friends of mine had tried up this Ally before, putting in such considerable time, effort and foolish strategy that we ended up naming the campaign after “Operation Iraqi Freedom”.
So, I encourage Pete, given that operation’s failure both in its political and sexual connotations to effect change, to go get ’em for round 2. But Pete being Pete wouldn’t have any of it.
“I don’t know, dude. That’s not my style.” He confessed. “But I mean she’s gorgeous. And him. Well, him, man.”
“Ol’ Drippy.” I told Pete.
“Your words, not mine.” He told me and we finished our drinks and headed home.