My friends from high school are insane. I mean that in the most complimentary of ways. I don't know if it was the methane from the cow farts that made us this way, but we're all whacked. While I don't keep in touch with everyone, there are a select few people who I've known since I started my public education career with Mr. Magee in 1986. My friend Jack is one of them. After going to college in Rhode Island, he moved to Marlboro with his girlfriend, and now lives in Newton. While I don't see Jack often, it's always good to see him. Since I hadn't seen him in two years, I decided to head over to the Hong Kong last night after the part-time job to watch him take part in a karaoke competition.
Jack has an affinity-- bordering on unhealthy obsession-- with classic rock tunes. In high school, he'd send weekly emails with his "Name that Tune" contest. Jack rocks out very enthusiastically to Final Countdown. So I figured his karaoke would be amazing.
I'd never been to the Hong Kong either and I'm sad I lived so long without going. For $10.50, I got myself to the Hong Kong and back on the T, had two skewers of delicious chicken, a buzz from two tequila sunrises, and a hoarse voice from singing along with the various karaoke singers. Before the competition began, Jack sang "Semi-Charmed Kind of Life," which he reviewed as not good because he wasn't drunk enough. Somebody else sang "Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi, and I wished Kristen and Amy were there to show these people how to adequately rock out to some Jovi because those bitches weren't selling it.
For his song in the competition, Jack sang Keep on Lovin' You by REO Speedwagon. What he lacked in the vocal ability department, he made up for in enthusiasm. The crowd was into the performance since it's a good song to sing along to. Jack also had the best song choice-- the eventual winner was a woman who sang "Midnight Train to Georgia." Who the hell wants to hear such a downer song at a karaoke bar? The runner-up sang "The Way You Look Tonight." It was lame. Jack was the clear-cut winner, according to the very vocal cheerleading section he brought with him.
Once the competition was over, the real fun began. A very white-bred couple elected to sing "Bust a Move" with poor results. Jack's girlfriend sang "Sweet Caroline" which the entire bar sang like it was a catharsis (how odd to not have the Sox on the big screen behind her in October). Jack sang another song, which he introduced by calling out "I'm bringing sexy back! You motherfuckers don't know how to act." (Clearly, he was drunk enough then.) And just as we were packing it up to head home, someone launched into Don't Stop Believing.
Someday, I will go back to the Hong Kong. I will get Amy and Kristen very drunk, and we will earnestly sing that song and win $100. "Don't Stop Believing" is perhaps the greatest ballad ever written. I have a soft spot in my heart for it, especially after partying in the streets of Kenmore Square in October 2004 and hearing the song blasting out of a passing Jeep. I will always associate that Journey song with a chilly October night, my lips stinging since I'd drunkenly kissed a friend from high school who'd been pepper-sprayed by the cops and neglected to tell me. Screaming out "STREETLIGHT PEOPLE" in a crowded bar is also one of the most fun things a person can do.