A straight man resembling Ewan McGregor sings “Patience,” but when he runs over the chorus, he becomes a “tough call.” His friends join in high-pitched vibrato, friends, I am certain appear on CD shelves, wearing ties and muscle shirts, beneath a thin font titled Gay Men’s Chorus. Ewan is now a tough call. He’s in a group of men at a St. Mark’s Place Karaoke bar. I know what you’re thinking… um, not that tough of a call there, Red.
The tattoo inside his wrist probably means respect, or maybe even patience. I was giving both a go. Dimples, mole, spiked hair, but he’s better looking when he looks as though he’s calculating the tip. I know before talking to him that I’ll hate his laugh. I know he prefers reptiles to monkeys. Men like this know they’ll snag more prospects walking around looking pissed, even if it’s feigned. He has flipped through stacks of photos on Sunday afternoons, and he pauses to study the ones he’s in. He looks common when he’s happy. When he looks miserably ticked, he’s all throbbing jaw and a squint—now that’s hot. Maybe this is the equivalent to the Parisian pout on high-heeled fashionistas who never smile. I thought it was the red lipstick on the teeth fear, but maybe they snag more men when miserable. They haven’t practiced the smile in years, but when impatient camera lady won’t squeeze the shutter/release button and demands, “You’re not smiling. Smile!” They force an unpracticed smile.
At Karaoke you learn that “with eyes like potatoes” is really, “with eyes like the desert.” You sing Madonna at the top of your lungs, and you stop caring about pitch and focus instead on just being heard. The more sweet and undeniably pure the song and lyrics, the more shady and on the verge B-porn the video is. “Homeward Bound” by Paul Simon brings new meaning to the word “bound”… the video features an Asian with ropes. There might have been a bubble bath.
Rockin’ out to “Sad Songs Say So Much,” you catch ‘em all singing with their eyes closed. You just can’t fake that; you can’t even practice it in a mirror. Everyone is happy at Karaoke, even when they’re trying not to be. You just can’t fake happy over Elton John.