I was really, really drunk the night this all happened, making the evening something of a blur. All I can say is that what really happened between me and K.K. was probably every bit as bizarre as what I wrote had happened, and I'm just very, very grateful I did not go home with her, or, if I did, that I don't remember it.
Thursday, Dec. 15, 2001: Karaoke Night at Peter D's
I enter the bar, look around, stool up, order a rumple and a green bottle and settle into my boozing groove. A nightingale is singing on stage and people are clapping. Her voice is perfect, and she glides across the stage like an angel on an air-hockey table.
I am instantly drunk with love.
Sure, she may be your typical Clairemont Mesa skank with long, thin, silver-streaked hair, stonewashed jeans drooping off her skeletal hips and no less than three smoldering meth-boils clustered on her cheek-but love is an old, retarded blindfuck.
She finishes singing and says into the microphone, “I'm Karla Karaoke, Goddess of the One Big Song. You can all me K.K.,” and the crowd hollers for more. Someone in the crowd shouts out a request.
“‘I Will Survive,'” he bellows.
The sweet, sweet sounds of Gloria Gaynor music fill the room as Karla begins to sing, “At first I was afraid, I was petrified”-and her voice is edgeless, like a sip of warm sake.
As the song continues, Karla gets more and more into it. Soon she is howling out the lyrics and stretching her gaping maw for all to see. To some, the inside of her mouth is a vile and dank cave-where uvula hangs like a moldy stalactite, corroded upper teeth dangle like sleeping black bats and a splotchy, meth-peppered tongue spans across the bottom of her mouth like a guano-splashed cavern floor-but to me she is the Big Song personified, and I only want to make her mine.
Karla dismounts the stage and serendipitously takes a stool next to me-her good side facing me, her meth-boils facing Hiroshima-and says, “Do you know that kara is the Japanese word for empty?'”
“Indeed,” I say.
“And okesutora means orchestra,” she adds. “That's where the word karaoke comes from. It means empty orchestra.
And my love for her knows no bounds.
We talk and talk all night, and I am delighted to learn about my beloved Karla Karaoke. She is politically and socially enlightened. She discusses education reform, arguing that karaoke should be a subject in every school. She contemplates current events, wondering what is the most popular karaoke song of Al Qaeda.
“I bet it's ‘Hava Nagila,'” she says and cackles, and we high-five like lovers, slowly dragging our pinkies down each other's arms on the dismount.
Karla has karaoke'd from Buffalo to Bakersfield-a real Jack Karaokouac. She has sung “Bust a Move” in baseball parks and bawdyhouses, “Killing Me Softly” in kindergartens and crack houses.
“The world is my oyster bar,” she says, breaking out in maniacal laughter.
Karla and I turn our attention to the next singer. It's a biker-chick, and she's screeching out “Total Eclipse of the Heart” like somebody was cauterizing her breasts together. As the biker babe on stage commits Hari-Karaoke, Karla whispers in my ear. “Shall we duet, my darling?”
“My love for you is strong,” I whimper, “but not as strong as my fear of singing in public.”
“Then let me sing to you, lover.”
“Karla Karaoke, I follow wherever you lead,” I whimper.
K.K. submits a song to the karaoke host and drags me onto the stage. We stand there like idiots waiting for the song to begin. The first notes of Engelbert Humperdinck's “After the Loving,” fill the room, and Karla turns to face me. The sight of her meth-eaten cheeks does little to break my trance d'amour as she croons, dreamlike, “So I sing you to sleep after the loving with a song that I wrote yesterday.”
The crowd is swaying. They feel the love K.K. is spilling unto me as she continues singing, “It's so hard to explain everything that I'm feelin'/ Face to face I just seem to go dry.”
Then, without warning, she shoves the microphone into my face. I lurch backward, mortified. “Don't be scared my love,” says K.K., and it is her love-a love greater than all the loves put together and multiplied by four-that brings me the strength I need to erupt like Mt. Kara-okatoa into song:
“So I sing you to sleep after the loving.”
The crowd roars with delight as I serenade her with tears streaming down my cheek.
“And the love on your face is so real that it makes me want to cry.”
Now the tempo is full blown and the crowd goes nuts as Karla joins me in harmony. “And I know that my song isn't saying anything new,” we sing, gazing lovingly into each other's eyes as the song trickles out and the blackout trickles in.
“Oh, but after the loving I'm still in love with you.”
Ed Decker will return to his weekly column as soon as he finishes his volunteer work with the orphanage.