Oh Mickey, You’re So Fine, You’re So Fine You Blow My Mind…

December 15, 2006 at 1:44 am (Uncategorized)

Karaoke is big in Sydney. It’s definitely graduated from ‘kooky Asian subculture’ to mainstream ‘Thing to Do in Sydney.’ It used to be something no one would ever admit to loving, but now lots of people sing it loud and proud and wear ‘I heart Karaoke’ t-shirts right along with their strange and vaguely creepy Hello Kitty accessories. This is a town of belters. People do it in big groups, for Christmas parties, birthdays, and first dates. Every occasion is something to sing about. It’s only a matter of time before Karaoke weddings take hold of the city’s glittery, kitschy imagination.

I do not sing. I am not a good singer, and I prefer to keep my humiliations to the shower when Llew isn’t home. I’ve heard that singing is good for you. I’ve also heard red wine is good for you. Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner, and choir practice is not it. So I am not the best qualified to regale you with tales of Sydney’s crazy all-night Karaoke bars, but I am qualified to talk about how Karaoke very nearly destroyed my last public holiday getaway. Public holidays, by the by, are SACRED here, just as precious as, say, cows in India. We all party like it’s 1999 every time we don’t have to go to work the next day. I’m pretty sure there’s a by-law that says we have to.

So, a few months ago, I was naturally looking forward to the forthcoming public holiday. Eight of us rented a house somewhere called Eagle Reach, which lies somewhere beyond the Hunter Valley. There were whispers along the lines of ‘Eco Resort,’ and some of us had already booked in massages and something to do with hot stones and steam. It was all sounding so good. I’d made peace with the five hours we were going to lose trying to leave Sydney on the Friday, and I’d already chosen in advance the higher ground of a sanguine response to the violent spike in petrol prices that I knew would arrive just in time to wave us on our merry way.

At the time, I hoped it would keep on raining, because I was planning to do a lot of lounging about fireside with a pile of books, magazines, and weekend papers. I was also planning on some gluttonous, long weekend chowing down at the trough. I love nothing more than feeding my face more frequently on such weekends just because I can, obesity statistics be damned. Three couples were taking turns with dinner, the fourth was doing lunch, there was bound to be a pub for a counter meal or two, and breakfast was included. Aside from three full-fat meals a day, the cheese platters, salami and pate treats were already being hotly anticipated. Everything was on track for a bumper weekend. Almost.

The tennis round robin was going to be great, if only because of the chicken sandwiches and Pimms we were going to reward ourselves with afterwards. I was even looking forward to facing off with my demons by joining in an afternoon of horse riding. The last time I attempted to go riding, I was handed the reigns of a mutant Trojan named Killer, whilst my friends gently cantered off on Daisy and Bluebell. That wasn’t going to happen this time. I too had a date with a preferably lame horse named after a flower.

It was all going to be tickety-boo.

Until, that is, I got the email. Everything was a blur after “rock legends,” “Solid Gold,” and “Karaoke,” but the meaning was clear: one of our number had betrayed the brethren and booked a Karaoke machine for the weekend. Oh please god, no.

Ever since I was passed over in a primary school musical and given the speaking-part-only role of narrator, I’ve known the truth: I can’t sing. I try, and I do actually know the words to the national anthem, but religion was easy to give up once I realised it would emancipate me from hymn. It’s just not my thing. I’m hopeless, and, as a general rule, I avoid onslaughts of well-founded derision.

Only Cameron Diaz can get away with Karaoke this awful. I knew I was destined to embarrass my husband and cause good friends – people I have known for years – to carefully avert their collective gaze. The silence after my (naturally compulsory) performance was going to be deafening, but that’s okay: no one was going to be able to hear a thing by then anyway.

Everyone else thrilled to the possibilities. We had Elvis, who was planning a rousing rendition of the same Teddy Bear routine that helped him take out the coveted Karaoke King title at the Ettalong RSL. There was animated talk of costumes, and Blondie’s name was mentioned more than once. A play list circulated, and our Saturday night in the mountains was suddenly renamed Eagle Reach Idol. It was like some kind of nightmare. My sole consolation, aside from the proximity of vast quantities of Hunter Valley red, was knowing they would definitely be playing my song: Help.

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