The Karaoke King

Frank Sinatra, you’ve been served!  I imagine this Father’s Day there may be a “sing off” going down inside the pearly gates where Rat Pack crowd cigar smoke doesn’t stink and carries with crooning over the clouds.

I put Google to work early this morning to do its stuff and after a few keystrokes it quickly served up the lyrics to “My Way” by Frank Sinatra.  Though appreciative of Sinatra’s music I am not a “fan” in regards to personal ownership of any of his tunes nor do I know any of them by heart.  My Dad, however, loved that song in particular and when occasions arose for him to dust off his Karaoke King crown it was one of his two favorite “go to’s”.  We played that song at his memorial and it amazed me how prolific the words were, perfect for his “swan song”.

My full family went on a short, Caribbean cruise together several years ago, generously gifted by my parents to celebrate my dad’s retirement together.  Predictably one of my dad’s favorite activities sailing with my mom on their umpteen cruises was the onboard karaoke.  I thought this was pretty hilarious.  My Dad doing karaoke – you MUST be kidding!  Can’t wait to tell my friends about this!  Ha, ha, ha, and blah, blah, blah.

Let me tell you what – he FLOORED them!  Yes, if there was no age limit, my Dad could truly have been the next American Idol!  Well, that and a makeover.  Sorry, Dad.  Your tragic wardrobe choices, most notably the shiny, silver Keds with the dark dress socks and plaid shorts, live on in infamy  But I digress.

I very begrudgingly went to see him “perform”.  Although I didn’t let my folks know that was the adjective I would have used I’m certain they were wise to it but appreciative of my attendance all the same.  I went into the lounge being used for this hokey pastime and took a seat.  The girls performing upon my arrival were tipsy, young, and giddy…..and just plain AWFUL, exactly the performance one would expect from cruise ship karaoke.  Painful to sit through.

When the warbling, drunken, trio’s song blessedly came to a close the Cruise Director called out a man’s name whose companions apparently had signed him up without his knowledge because he adamantly refused to do it while his friends caused a jolly scene, egging him on to no avail.  Dad was next in line and offered to go ahead.  Problem solved.

Here we go.  Keep a straight face.  I know I can do it.

He. Was. AMAZING!

“And nowwwwwwwwww……the time is near……”

BEAUTIFUL!!  He sounded BEAUTIFUL!

All of the sudden the attending crew member broke out these slowly spinning, multi-colored spotlights on him.  Ambiance, why thank you.

The room got quiet.  He sang like a tenor angel.

His first round of the chorus, “I did it myyyyyyyyyyy waaaaaaay.”, had the audience erupting in applause & whistles.  He was a supahstah!  As he continued singing there were occasional whoops and whistles, and even one loud & enthusiastic “YEAHHHHHH, BOB!” from the back of the room (they had introduced him by his first name before he began.).

As the song and my papa songbird came to a close, I kid you not, he got a heartfelt standing ovation from everyone in the room.  There was no denying – it wasn’t just me – he was incredible.  I have never been so proud of my father as I was at that moment and I will never forget it.  It is, without a doubt, something that will make me smile in 30 years as it does now while I remember and write.

The following day I participated in some additional cruise ship fodder, some type of trivia game where I was paired with an older couple who looked to be around their 60’s.  As we chatted casually they mentioned how they were just in that same lounge the day before and I said I was too, to see my Dad sing karaoke.  Turns out that’s why they had been there too.  The woman asked what my Dad sang and I said, “My Way” and she exclaimed, “FRANK?  Your Dad is FRANK???” and began acting like a wrinkled school girl!

Again, I smile even bigger now.  I wonder if there’s groupies in heaven?

And now, the end is near

And so I face the final curtain

My friend, I’ll say it clear

I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

I’ve lived a life that’s full

I’ve traveled each and every highway

But more, much more than this

I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had a few

But then again, too few to mention

I did what I had to do

And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course

Each careful step along the byway

And more, much more than this

I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew

When I bit off more than I could chew

But through it all, when there was doubt

I ate it up and spit it out

I faced it all and I stood tall

And did it my way

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried

I’ve had my fill my share of losing

And now, as tears subside

I find it all so amusing

To think I did all that

And may I say – not in a shy way

Oh no, oh no, not me

I did it my way

For what is a man, what has he got

If not himself, then he has naught

To say the things he truly feels

And not the words of one who kneels

The record shows I took the blows

And did it my way

Yes, it was my way

(My favorite picture of my dad, sitting inside a giant bubble maker that he made)

A “Gay Concert”

TrueColors_EventPoster

I once received a memorable post-it note from a boss regarding a delicate situation, “Tact is for weenies” stamped on the pad.  Another quote relevant to this tale (a la’ Dragnet): “I just want the facts, ma’am.”  Sometimes silence is the best strategy as facts speak for themselves.

Rewind to 2008 and a concert tour that you may or may not recall, organized and headlined by the ever fabulous, eclectic, electric hue haired songbird otherwise known as Cyndi Lauper.  It was the “True Colors” tour, offering up a delectable feast for both the ears and the heart due to an amazing line up of artists and its accompanying cause regarding awareness & accomplishment towards gay rights and equality.

It is a curious yet undisputed, and often laughed about, fact amongst my friends that I have frequently been the disco nurse yielding a bedazzled stethoscope skilled at locating the heartbeat of entertainment options directed towards the gay community.  The reason that this stands out as unusual is that in my vast circle & community of gay friends I wear “The Cheese Stands Alone” title, a hetero adrift in a loving, rainbow colored sea.  And so it was at my discovery and suggestion that my best friend and I found ourselves at the True Colors concert.

As we pulled up to the stadium with a couple of other friends in tow, excitedly chattering as we exited the vehicle and made our way in, I made a random comment about it being “a gay concert”.

*****SCREEEEECCCHHHHHHH******  Hit the brakes!  I was in TROU-BLE (yes, all caps style)!

“A GAY concert?”, my best friend shouted back, abruptly coming to a halt mid-stride and glaring at me fiercely.  “What do you mean, a GAY concert?”.

Well…….  Ummm, wait. WHAT?  WHAT is happening?

All of the sudden my best friend, who was gay (only using past tense as he has since passed away, though I’m sure it doesn’t require a mathematics degree to reach that equation as relevant to his reaction.), was glaring at me with laser eyes shining bright with disapproval, indignation, and offense.

NEVER did we argue and certainly never did I mean or cause any offense in this or any other matters, regardless of nature.  As Michael Jackson told Paul McCartney (can you tell I’m a fan of quotes?), “I’m a lovah, not a fighter.”.

As I reeled myself in from the line of shock that had just been cast I began trying to explain the nature of the “True Colors” tour (of which he was completely unaware) but it was falling on purposefully deaf and defiant ears.  There was to be no explaining because there certainly was no listening as he hooked arms with our lesbian friend that was along and loudly said, “Come on, Barb – let’s go into the GAY CONCERT!” and began marching ahead of me, my new view of his back firmly in check.  As I continued to try to explain we entered the stadium together where we immediately encountered a small group of common friends.  Gay friends.  “Hi, hi!”, *hug* hug*.  “We’re so excited about the concert!  Great to see you – have fun!”, blah, blah, blah.

Just a few steps further and I get bum rushed from the side.  More hugs & “hiya’s” and exchanged enthusiasm regarding the shared evening laid before us.  “I just want the facts, ma’am.”.  Also gay.

As we took our place in the cattle line to grab cocktails & beer he continued to throw committed but diminishing shade and disgruntled “moos” in my direction. Next thing you know there’s a *tap*tap* on my shoulder.  Turn around and, Hellooooooo, gay friends!  Standing in line together, we awaited our turn to drink from the trough as the lasers blissfully continued to dim.

Our drink mission accomplished and in hand, we set off to locate our seats and embrace a great night of live music and camaraderie, though not before passing another cluster of friends on the way who yelled out and waved.

Oh my, you ARE quick.  GAY!
Gay, gay, gay, gay, GAY!

And so my friend completed his evolution from cow to sheep(ish) as he looked at me and said, “Okay, I guess you’re right.  This is a gay concert.”, to which I gave no reply, just a wink and a shared laugh, grateful for the gradual & refreshing rain that put out the fire of fury.  It’s omething we laughed about for all the years together that followed and that I still do on my own.  Hopefully it made you too.  🙂

“Tact is for weenies.”

n1367756729_30101817_7876

Photo Credit (True Colors poster):
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39831904By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39831904