I remembered that Thursday night was kareoke night. Now I'm not really into kareoke a whole lot (I have no voice at all so you'd never see me up on the stage) but there are a couple of regulars who attend that do some pretty decent covers. For example, one dude is like 5'4" and hispanic but he does a dead-on impression of the singer Maxwell. He covers the original album version of "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)" from Maxwell's '96 Urban Hang Suite. (By the way, this is a killer album and I recommend it as well as all Maxwell's releases.) I've wondered if the kareoke singer has ever heard the remix version of "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)" from the single of the same name. The arrangements and lyrics are a bit different but the groove to this version is very heavy and even more soulful than the original. His voice would sound so good on the PA. I'll have to dig up this single again and give it some rotation because it is a true gem!
Anyway, Mike picked me up around 9:45pm and we had arrived just in time for the open mic kareoke to start. Since I already had dinner earlier I just ordered a few hot pretzels from the bar while Mike had a burger with steak fries with plenty of pints for the two of us. The Christmas decorations were up and the soft glow of the lights provided ambience. The house lights are either too bright when on or a bit too dim when they are turned down. I think the light from regular white Christmas lights is pretty cool. Reminds me of candle light in a way. Actually, the thought had occured to me to string up some shrubs I was planning to put in the back yard and leave them like that all year. (The ambient light they would create would be perfect for night time back yard parties in the summer. Throw in some pillar candle stands with candles burning here and there and the back yard scene is sweet.) Needless to say the updated decor and a little something else had me in pretty good spirits.
That little something else were the birds. Not referring to fowl, mind you, but a rather large flock had decided to make the Brickhouse their pirch for the evening. Mike is currently in between relationships of sorts and my situation with Melissa is a bit complex to say the least. Him and I have been a great support system for each other in recent months. I was happy that the field was loaded in Mike's favor. I had made up my mind weeks ago that for the immediate future I will gladly be a wing man to Mike. Being so close to my move, I really cannot logically see the point in pursuing anything that will have to end abruptly. Also, to be quite honest, I am not ready to get involved with anyone. I still have very, very deep feelings for Melissa. I need to concentrate on me and what I am trying to do in my personal life; correcting some problems, tying up loose ends. I look at nights like these as a way for me to spend as much time as possible with my friends before I move.
Having a hair-splittingly critical ear for music at times I have to say that I was enjoying the kareoke. Yes, there were a few birds and dudes who, like myself, lacked a singing voice but it was entertaining. A mutual friend Kevin joined us about an hour later to chill out and have drinks. Of course, Kevin was delighted that we had a tab going. I hate having to go up to the bar and try to fumble for dough while you are shoulder-to-shoulder was everyone and their auntie. Plus, the bartenders are really a class bunch of guys so as soon as they see me in view they always offer me another pint. So it speeds things up a bit especially when you are trying to get a bird a drink!
The crowd was pretty lively as the night went on. I'll have to remember to audio blog some of the regular performers because they were pretty good. The music choices were off the hook. Kev having had a few votka tonics in a short period of time was really carrying a big buzz. Its comical seeing him when he is buzzed because it seems his inhibitions go out the window. A group of three chicks were singing "Lady Marmalade" and (of course) as soon as they were done Kev wanted to go up to them and chatterbox. Not being the type of guy to leave a friend hanging I stepped over as well. Mike always plays it real cool. Very rarely will you see him give up his seat unless it is to get another pint or take a trip to the head. So as we talked it up as a group we slowly moved back to our table where Mike was sitting comfortably awaiting introductions. You can't knock the hussle!
Now a brief word on Kevin. The only way to describe Kevin is straight up obnoxious at times. You never really know what he will say next, sort of like Howard Stern. He always has a knack for saying something totally off canter which can at best spark a raucous laughfest OR insite a fight. Apparently this evening it would be the latter. Many volunteers from one of the local fire departments were at the Brickhouse and I noticed that Kev had already engaged himself in conversations with many of them. Some of these dudes resembled myself in stature which didn't seem to phase Kev one bit. Sure enough a few moments later two of them approached me asking who Kev was and if I had come with him. Basically, they wanted to know what his deal was.
I had worn a collared shirt and sweater that night and as the night progresses I normally tend to get a bit hot. As I was talking to these two dudes I unbuttoned the cuffs of my shirt to try and roll up my sleeves. Quite harmless I thought. I guess these dudes didn't like this and immediately stated their disapproval. At this point I am majorly buzzed having had about 12-15 pints of Blue Point Toasted Lager (awesome stuff). I didn't really appreciate these two guys thinking they can tell me what I can or cannot do. After telling them as much it seems things were a bit tense. Knowing I could not back down at that point, even though it was two against one, I decided that proper "attitude" was the best way to deal with these two meat heads. Mike and Kev were chatterboxing some of the birds and I didn't want to knock them off their game. You see, sometimes being a bit too friendly with guys like the two firemen can give them the excuse to walk all over you. After spewing a few choice verbal daggers along with some appropriately below the belt profanity it seems my two "new" friends became meeker lads, indeed. Having two or three buy backs coming my way, I thought it would be best to get the two a pint as a gesture of goodwill. Of all times to get involved, Kev decided to get in the mix and started talking a lot of nonsense.
I decided to "walk" Kev outside to help him cool down since the bouncer started to take notice of the situation. Kevin became quite wild now that we were outside and wouldn't stop going on and on about him and I beating the shit out of the firemen. After a few minutes of this I had to grab him and shake him a bit, pleading for him to calm down. Fighting at this point wouldn't be necessary because I had already had it out with the two big dudes inside and everything was cordial. Kevin, obviously a bit agitated at me for not wanting to throw down, swung for the fences and (missing me) hit a brick pillar busting the knuckles on his right hand open. Not feeling the pain he continued to scuffle with me. This annoyed me but not enough to try and hit him back. After pushing him a few times I told him to stay out here a few minutes to cool down and then come back in because it was truly frigid outside (I felt sorry for Kev, really).
When I went back inside and made my way back to my table I could just feel all the eyes on me. So I looked around at a few people and everyone WAS looking at me. I sort of glanced back at them with a puzzled look, not knowing what the hell was going on. This girl that I had talked to before called me over to her and her friends. All three bartenders also approached when I came over. I was greeted with, "...what did you do to him? ...holy shit, are you alright? ...Dave, you didn't have to kill him? Dave, man, this one is on me!" Turns out I didn't really notice how much blood was on my sweater from our scuffle. It looked like I tuned Kevin up pretty good especially since he did not walk in with me. The group of girls found it more respectable that I wasn't involved in a fight, which helped calm the bar down a bit.
After about another half an hour the vibe was pretty cheerful again. Mike and I took a few turns with the firemen buying rounds and I had a really great time the rest of the night. Inside, my head was still reeling. As many conversations were going on and it was hard to concentrate on any one in particular, I just thought about Melissa. Sometimes I see her face in my mind which is enough to make me feel more tranquil when things are rushing fast around me. The outcome was the best one because no one got into a fight and nobody got hurt. Even though I am sure some of the firemen wanted to get into a scrap, I like to think even they were glad it didn't have to come down to that. After all, its the holiday season and who needs the drama. In the words of Junk Yard Willy Robinson, "Save the drama for yo mamma!"