Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What stood between me and the rubber gloves?

Back in November my friends Robert and Tessa had a farewell party at a bowling alley in Eagle Rock before what is hoped to be just a temporary move to Oklahoma. I went to the party alone, but soon befriended people by doing two things I do best: holding court about The Room ("It seems that I am the EXPERT, Mark!") and unashamedly performing karaoke.

I am not being modest when I say I am not a good singer. I'm really not. I can sing in tune and mimic all the inflections of the original performance however the voice the carries this whole show is weak and just not very great. But it's okay, I'm fine with that as I mask my shortcomings with heartfelt gusto, falling to my knees, clenching my fist, beating my chest and turning away to cry should the lyrics evoke it.

So up I went in front of a room filled mostly with strangers and won the hearts of many with a performance of my all time favourite, Xanadu. My Sometimes When We Touch didn't quite translate as it had the last time I had done it a few years ago and later in the evening, Tessa and I bungled our way through Spice Up You Life leaving me with a spotty evening at the mic. It was almost time to go when I was called up for my last number, Sweet Child O' Mine. Complete with Axl's swagger, wailing every last note and a perfect "miii-eee-iii-eee-iiiinnnne" down the last little suckle of breath Axl takes, strangers were rocking out as I sang.

One of my more successful performances of 'Sometimes When We Touch' several years ago.

I was by no means the star of the night, however. Periodically, the name Dave was called and gentleman with long, ratty, dirty blonde hair would appear from nowhere and take the mic. He was the perfect embodiment of a rocker, waiting for someone to wake him up and deliver the good news that it was 1984 again and they had a spare ticket to see Dokken. The only thing amiss was that he was wearing a pair of blue latex gloves. Once that distraction was overcome, Dave wowed to crowed by rocking out to classics like Livin' On A Prayer and White Wedding. It soon became apparent that he wore the gloves because he was a janitor at the bowling alley and that each time after bringing the house down, he would resume cleaning it up.

Possibly one of Dave's favourite bands

As I left soon after my Sweet Child O' Mine rendition I was greeted by people in the parking lot telling me how awesome I was, ignoring how much the echo on the mic prevented me from dying on stage. Among those kind folk was Dave who was loading up his vehicle with cleaning supplies. I went over to him to tell him he was great, which I sincerely meant, and he continued to tell me the same. A little nuts, he took the conversation into a bizarre direction telling me not to waste my time auditioning for American Idol (huh?!) because they were assholes and wouldn't get what I was doing. I assured him I was neither good enough nor bad enough to make the show and he needn't worry, but he continued in earnest about his history as a musician and sharing a story of Idol judge, Randy Jackson being an asshole to him at some other event. As our chat wound down, he reached out his hand and gave me his name. His hand was still gloved and my chest froze. He wore those gloves to shield his skin from all the horrible contaminants he would come into contact with while he worked. Grease from the kitchen? Toilets? Wet bread on the ground? Now he was trying to put my skin in contact with all the things he thought fit to shield himself from. This was not fair. My evening flashed before my eyes as I pondered how many times I had taken the taken mic after him, hoping the germs had been soaked up by other wannabe vocalists. His hand remained outstretched and while I momentarily considered shrieking "No!" and running, I bravely took his hand and tried to steer my mind clear of all the horrible places it was going.

As I breathlessly made it to the driver's side of my car, and out of his sight, I reached into my bag with my good hand and found a bottle of hand sanitizer. It left me wondering the circumstances under which Dave had his meeting with Randy Jackson and if he too was subjected to a diseased rubber glove. It's possible, but still more likely that Randy Jackson is just an asshole.

Randy Jackson: Asshole or no?
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