my 1st time

What the hell am I doing here? I thought to myself, as I pulled into Chop Stix 3, a seedy little dive bar in Portland's North East Industrial side. I'm a real artist. I shouldn't even be here. This is degrading. I scolded myself, as I found a parking spot near the rear of the lot, put my Oldsmobile Alero into park and exited the vehicle with trepidation. I was here and they knew I was coming. No turning back now.

Big Dan and Josh the Terrible had been doing karaoke for months at various bars around Portland and had been nagging me for nearly as long to come out and join them. I would always decline. What prompted me to come out on this particular night, I can't be entirely sure, but I'm quite certain the beers they offered to buy me aided in my decision to finally give in to their nagging.

“Not a chance in hell am I going to sing.” I told them. Karaoke was for losers: people who couldn't sing, people who didn't have another means to go on stage and perform. People who had no problem making a mockery of music. I was a musician- a touring and performing one- who was on stage aplenty. I didn't need this to fill any narcissistic or artistic needs.

Yet, there I was- of my own free will- at a karaoke bar with promises of free beer and musical mutilation.

If one were to perform a search for “dive bar” on Google, the number one search result would be Chop Stix 3. I nearly developed lung cancer from the thick smoke, which enveloped the poorly lit room. The video poker machines lining the walls mockingly teased the money away from the decrepit humans who futilely sought from them a pay off. An off duty police officer, moonlighting as bar security, checked my ID and allowed me to enter the bar. I spotted my friends through the acrid smoke at a long table in the center of the bar, which sat directly in front of the hard wood stage, surrounded by tattered carpeting.


me, the author, performing Karaoke at the Ambassador in the Hollywood Neighborhood in Portland, Oregon
me, the author, performing Karaoke at the Ambassador in the Hollywood Neighborhood in Portland, Oregon | Source

I joined my friends and began to drink. I watched as Josh the Terrible pretty much owned Metallica's The Unforgiven and Big Dan screamed his big heart out to some nu-metal garbage and my guard was slowly worn down– aided, no doubt, by the Happy Hour (only $1! ) PBR Tall Boys.

Four Tall Boys later and I caved. I would sing after all.

“You won't regret it,” Josh the Terrible told me. “You're going to kick ass. Just have fun.”

“Yeah, sure,” was my skeptical response.

What was I to choose for my first karaoke song? I didn't want to make a fool of myself, obviously, so I decided to choose something I knew very well. My inexperience, however, bamboozled me into choosing to sing something with an incredibly wide range that never even came near to my own limited one– Elton John's Rocketman . I turned in my song sheet to the Karaoke host (or, KJ) and nervously awaited my turn, all the while guzzling up all of the liquid courage I could muster.

After an eternity, my name was called (This, of course, being before I'd discovered the important and amusing karaoke trend of a stage name. I may have turned in a sheet with the name “Justin.” on it, but I have sense settled on the name “White Chocolate”, due in large part to my ability to masterfully perform gangsta rap). I don't remember how it wound up sounding (though I do recall, a few minutes into the performance, wondering why Sir Elton had to sing "And I think it's gonna be a long long time" so many damn times). I was not as nervous as I thought I would be, but my pitch was all over the map. I really am not a good singer and, at this point, had not yet discovered what my limited range actually is. Six minutes later, when the song reach it's merciful and repetitious conclusion, I hung my head and sloughed off to my table as quickly as possible. My friends patted me on the back and high fived me. The strangers in the bar, of which there were many, gave me an undeserved courtesy applause.


But, I'd done it. I'd popped my cherry. I'd done what I said I'd never do, and life, for better or for worse, would never again be the same.

Since that dark night, I have found my niche and honed my craft, expanding my repertoire and earning the applause. I've discovered that karaoke, while still probably a nascent fad for hipsters, attention whores and drama students to enjoy, can also be a legitimate form of performance art. I have even made a modest living at it by occasionally being a karaoke host (using, of course, the moniker “White Chocolate”). If you're ever in Portland at feel the urge to sing a song that you didn't write, maybe we'll run into each other.

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Comments 25 comments

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

simplicity, I don't go as much as I used too, but, if you're in the area, I could probly direct you to the hot spots!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Velvet, thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed this story!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

xenolit, go for it. don't deny yourself!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

homestead, turning point might be a little extreme, but I certainly see your point!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Eddy, thank you. Nice seeing you. Hope you had a terrific day


Simplicity4All profile image

Simplicity4All 4 years ago from Rhode Island, USA

This was hilarious and well written, it seems like you had an enjoyable journey and despite your initial dismay for karaoke learned how to manage it in a way that you can earn the applause as well as make a little money which is always fun. I would have to agree though that the whole fad of karaoke is a pretty funny phenomena, generally everyone is wasted and you hear the slew of people who think they are the next madonna but actually have no talent whatsoever or you get a bunch of drunk people awkwardly ruining a long time favorite song. I know certain songs too seem to always get people pumped like Journey- Don't stop believing haha. Anyways thanks for sharing your journey should I ever make it out that way I will be on the lookout!


vanillavelvet profile image

vanillavelvet 4 years ago

So cool and funny! This story made me smile. Thanks for sharing! xoxo


Xenonlit profile image

Xenonlit 4 years ago

I love this story. Now I crave some beer and peanuts in the shell.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas

Sounds like that was a definite turning point in your life. It's funny sometimes the turns that life takes.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Great hub and thanks for sharing.

Take care and enjoy the rest of your day.

Eddy.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Debby. Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed the journey. Thanks for coming along and for reading and commenting!


Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 5 years ago

Enjoyed reading your descriptive style of writing and getting us through this momentous turning point with you. Blessings, Debby


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Frank, there's a reason I chose this title :-)

Martie- it's never too late. Leonard Cohen can still sing and he's gotta be pushing 100


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

Did we not all dream of a day we will be standing on a stage with an audience at our feet. Already at the age of 3 children will imitate a performance on stage. Karaoke makes it possible for many to make their dreams come true. Maybe I should give it a try before age cracks my voice.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

this was indeed a very entertaining hub.. but I have to come clean.. before I read it I thought it was going to be about something else..yeah yeah I know get my mind out of the gutter


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

always nice to meet a feelow oregonian. I used to do a karaoke blog on the examiner. I still have the articles. Maybe I should transfer them over here. Hasd some advice and what not. Thanks for the reads!


mikeq107 5 years ago

Loved it..my first time was in Salem...similar to yours...sang an Irish song...then bombed on an eighties LOL...then tried we will rock you...words went to fast so I ad-libed, more fun that way...picked on the guy who brought me...that was 5 years ago...yep everyone should try it once LOL...the old fear facer!!!!

great hub fellow OR -Man!!!

Mike :0)


Sky9106 profile image

Sky9106 5 years ago from A beautiful place on earth.

Will do for sure . Give thanks


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

@ sKY- THANKS FOR stopping by. If you ever make it out this way, let me know and I'll send you to some fun places.

@Ama- I've never really been shy about being on stage when I'm not singing. I'm not currently in a band, but I've been recording and touring and performing since I was 15. Glad you braved up! Thanks for the love. White Chocolate because I do lots of boy bands songs (BYE BYE BYE with hand motions and hip hop (ICE CUBE "I was a Good Day", Snoop "Gin and Juice", Pac "Changes"). I also do Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen, I Believe in a Thing Called Love by the Darkness, and Black by Pearl Jam. These are my standbys.

Weestro: Love Dusty Bottoms. Love THree Amigos. Thanks for the read!

Lyns- Anytime!

@Uban: Thanks for stopping by. I haven't karaoked much this year. Need to get back into it, but it's a different vibe when you're not single!


ubanichijioke profile image

ubanichijioke 5 years ago from Lagos

A great story and experience shared. Glad to read this and know that you re enjoying what you re doing. Awesome job


lyns profile image

lyns 5 years ago from USA

Thanks for sharing a nice laugh and good hub, I could use a good laugh, gave accordingly, thanks


weestro profile image

weestro 5 years ago from Virginia

Great Hub, brings back many memories. My stage name was always Dusty Bottoms, from the 3 amigos. We would always do Ladidadi over folsom prison blues...that will earn you some strange looks..Voted UP


AmaTainted profile image

AmaTainted 5 years ago from Texas

loved the read! i think i was in my late 20s before i ever allowed myself to get on stage. what little tune i could carry in a bucket, was poured out and replaced it Jack. i needed the liquid encouragement! to make matters worse, i choose a QUEEN song... the Bohemians still curse my name when the hear it.

gave you 6 of 6... white chocolate? ;)


Sky9106 profile image

Sky9106 5 years ago from A beautiful place on earth.

Lol “White Chocolate”, may be able to Google you when I get there and they will say where the “White Chocolate”, is performing any given night. Good for you that you got rid of the butterflies and the frogs . A modest living is not bad!Positive

Blessings


No_Clue profile image

No_Clue 5 years ago

Very cool read! There is not enough beer....lololol! Nice job!

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