I was sitting in a Mexican restaurant called the Puerto Vallarta and almost choking to death. I didn’t have anything stuck in my throat, I was laughing. Tears squeezed from my eyes and I gasped for breath. My wife and I decided to stop by this place for a drink. She liked B-52s and I was always up for an R&R and ginger. We sat with our drinks and nibbled on the complimentary corn chips and salsa while we listened to people singing karaoke. The restaurant had a number of CDs of hit songs with the vocals removed; a pretty low rent system. There was no screen with lyrics or anything, just the music CDs. It was up to the performer to do the rest.
There were people at three tables who were treating the open mic as if they were contracted performers, talking about “their sets” and the preparation they’d gone through to get ready. The singers were dressed up like someone’s parody of a 1970s rock album cover. The girls were wearing skin tight Spandex pants, zebra stripes and leopard skin the popular design. Their hair looked as though it had been styled through electro-shock.
Billy Jean, that’s my brother
He’s just a girl who thinks that I am her son…
Some of my drink came out my nose and my wife tried her best not to dribble her drink down her chin. “Did I just hear that?” I asked. My wife was nodding, a big smile on her face. We looked over towards the performer’s tables and saw that we were getting some chilly glances. We just kept chatting, talking about work and what was happening with our coworkers.
Are ya wheeling in the yeast
Snowin away in time
Are ya grabbin up the thieves
Have ya had a look at mine…
“Oh my God,” said my wife. “Is that Reelin’ in the years?”
“Yeah, by Stealing Dan apparently.” I said. My wife started sniggering again.
Are ya gatherin up the teas
Have ya had enough of mine
This is making me think of that book, it was, uh, yeah, ‘Scuze me while I kiss this guy.’ It was a book of the most common bastardization of song lyrics in popular songe. The title was a quote from Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze’s line ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.” I had started to contain myself because by now we were getting consistent glares from the performers table. Then a guy took the stage and attempted Santana’s Black Magic Woman and crooned
“She’s a black magic woman and she’s tryin’ to make a demo without me.”
that I shot part of my drink out of my nose and gave up trying not to laugh. Mt stomach was cramped and I just couldn’t catch my breath. A waitress came over and, glaring as coldly as the tabled performers, explained that these were talented people who worked hard to perform professionally and that it might be best if we went somewhere else. “Drink’s are on the house,” she snarled. “Just go, please.”
I took out my smartphone and called up one of the lyric sites on the browser. I’d fetched up Reelin’ in the years by Steely Dan and showed it to the lady with bright pink hair and matching Spandex and knee boots who’d tried her version of the hit at her turn. I explained that they could get the actual song lyrics and it was free. “It’ll help you present a more professional stage persona.” I explained.
“Thanks you so much,” she said icily. “ut I am a professional. I perform here each week. Yo know, it takes a lot of guts to face an audience like we do.”
“Well, it might take less guts if you were getting the lyrics right. You’re picking on some of the most popular songs. People know how they go. I apologize for laughing, but I honestly thought that you were doing parody.” I answered.
“Shows what you know. I wasn’t doing a Parody song. It was a different band entirely.”
My wife grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the restaurant. “That was some of the best entertainment we’ve had in ages,” she said. “And it was free!”
“Baby, I weed your garden, got to have all your garden...”
“Shut up and get in the car. And stop that. I happen to like the Four Tops.” We pulled out onto sprague Avenue and headed for Dave’s Bar and Grille for a drink we could consume without leakage and their Steak n’ Bake deal. I rode in silence a while.
“What?” asked my wife looking at me.
“I was just imagining a group of intoxicated Japanese tourists in Puerto Vallarta.”
My wife giggled. “Don’t start.”