Through and through, I am a creature of habit. My planner is the most important purchase of the year and I thrive off my Sunday night organization session where I outline my upcoming week in multi-colored pens. I have certain habits for grocery shopping and laundry and when I like to study foreign languages.
These routines, much like running and writing, keep me grounded and focused. But at some point, routines can become too much. It isn’t until you’ve stepped outside of yourself for a day or a week that you notice how much you’ve missed. You know that feeling of taking a long weekend trip? Suddenly, Saturday seems to last forever as you forget about buying bananas and bread and focus on enjoying wherever you are.
All this is to say that while I appreciate some of the structures I’ve given my life, I can’t help but wonder what’s just outside the box. The new idea for Sunday blog posts is to write about one experience I had in the previous week that was out of routine, that wasn’t predictable, that made me think a little differently about myself and the world I live in.
Challenge 2: Karaoke
When I thought about doing a weekly challenge for myself that would force me to step out of my comfort zone, I began polling my friends for ideas. We talked about the idea of saying yes to things we would normally turn down and I sought out advice, certain that there were at least 50 random, fun, and decently inexpensive activities that would make me feel a little uncomfortable but also be a great growing experience.
Naturally, one of my immediate thoughts was karaoke. Let me be clear when I say I do not sing. I’m a car driving, upset about something, having a fun day cleaning, type singer, but, in general, I do not sing. Packed in a musical family, the gene leaped over me and probably landed more poetically on my adopted dog who has a habit of howling when he isn’t getting attention. We’ve all been there.
Regardless, when I got back from a busy day of Sunday socializing and longed deeply for the covers of my bed and my book, I found myself hit with the opportunity. Knowing we were approaching not only my bed time but my, “Liz is definitely in her pajamas and not leaving the house” time, my roommate proposed I go with him to karaoke night where he was meeting some friends.
This is normally a hard no. The location wasn’t right around the corner, the wind and the cold were picking up, and I was tired to boot. But I had promised myself I would do more to engage in social aspects of everyday life and that I would say yes to things that I would normally immediately reject.
That’s how I found myself walking into a small karaoke bar around 11:30 last Sunday night. As the door blocked the cold air behind us, I looked ahead to the birthday boy who was belting a marvelous rendition of some show tune – he was a theatre kid.
Immediately, I turned to my roommate, “oh these people are actually good. We can’t just…”
We said our hellos and our happy birthdays and off we went. The next two songs that were sung were from Little Shop of Horrors and I quickly realized that this was the kind of crowd that would enjoy a little Disney.
We started with A Whole New World – my roommate using his falsetto for Jasmine and naturally, me defaulting to Aladdin.
Now let me make one thing clear – I’ve done lots of karaoke. I’ve done karaoke in my home or my apartment or at a random family function. There’s been karaoke at private parties or work parties or small gatherings where I know most people. But I’m hard pressed to remember a time when I sang public karaoke to a crew of strangers.
Aladdin’s words popped up on screen and suddenly I was telling the bar how I could show them the world. With some help from the group, we got through the arm-swaying song and passed our microphones to a pair who then sang a song from Rent. We knew our target audience.
A while later, my roommate, his friend (another theatre gal), and myself stepped up for Bang Bang the Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj song from 2014. This song had been my visualized karaoke redemption for one reason – I’m really good at the Nicki Minaj rap.
My roommate and his friend belted their way through Jessie and Ariana’s parts before I took the mic and delivered in perhaps the only way I can in karaoke – talking fast and surprising people.
We closed the bar down, singing Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson and belting Mariah Carey as the doors shut behind us. We buried our cheeks into our hoods as we shuffled along to the subway station and we cheered when our train was only two minutes away.
Taking a microphone to sing in front of a group of people that I didn’t know is not something I would normally do – as evident by my shaky beginning of A Whole New World. But when the bar assisted with the first few lines, I was ready to go. We were back in the game – a bunch of strangers singing and laughing and having a good time.
Turns out, once you get past the “I’ve been handed a microphone to do something I know I’m not good at” jitters, karaoke in a bar can be just as – if not more fun – than karaoke in your bedroom.