14 February 2010

A love story

When I was in first grade I fell in love with a girl named Janell. Which for a shy first grader means that in spite of the fact I interacted with her no more than one would expect in the typical first grade classroom environment, I thought she was the greatest thing ever and we were going to end up together and everything in the world would be perfect and groovy. I would talk about her constantly to my parents and to my friend Stephen. Hell, I wrote about book about her (a piece of paper, folded like a book, with a story inside about us kissing). And if we had to pick partners for anything, guess who I'd pick. But at one point I asked by dad what he thought the chance of us marrying was, and he responded with a very unromantic 0%.

But I didn't let that dissuade me. All through elementary school I harbored this crush. The fates conspired to keep us apart, we were never in the same class again. Not that that would have helped any, most likely. At some point I think she ended up with a boyfriend, however that works at the elementary school level. But my resolve was unshaken.

Then middle school happened, and about halfway through 6th grade I found out that she was going out with some guy would spray binaca breath spray up his nose. And that pretty much killed my interest in Janell.

Nice story.

Here's the catch. One winter day in first grade I was wandering around aimlessly at recess, as I was wont to do. And who comes up to me but Janell, and she says "I'm playing with you today". Alright!

So we walk around together and she leads me to some ice that people are playing on, despite that being strictly prohibited. And she says come on, let's go on the ice. I sort of silently protest and she says I can hold her hand. Well I still protest--staying out of trouble is very big at this point in my life--and we don't go on the ice!

But still, that day was the triumphant moment of my first grade life. But the next day, status quo was resumed.

There are some days in life that just don't make sense. They don't seem to fit in with the established cast of characters, or the context of the past, or the context of the days after. In some sense, life seems to follow a more logical progression without it.

I think it's pretty fair to say that some people are more spontaneous than others. And I'm not particularly spontaneous. Whenever something like this happens, I'm left trying to force the day into some logical progression of events. And I drive myself crazy thinking of what I did to both cause this day and to cause the return to normalcy. What had I done in the immediate past? How did I fail to capitalize on this outlier?

Really there's probably nothing. It's just some more or less random decision that I'm caught up in. But fight it as I may, I inevitably crave logic and reason. I manufacture stories I know are farces. And then it eventually drops.

One day, when I die, and if there's some sort of god, and it's a cool sort of toss-a-football-around-and-let-me-pick-his-brain-for-eternity god, I think these will be first things I ask about.

07 February 2010

Right way to rock, wrong way to roll

I never really intended the power hour to be be a Matt emotes for the viewer at home type of deal. I was hoping I'd write about stuff I found neat, interesting, or frustrating. But this one is going to be pretty borderline. Maybe there's some social science applicability hiding somewhere, but you're going to have to dig for it.

I did karaoke last Wednesday.

Since I moved up to Sunderland, I've been spending occasional Wednesdays at the bar basically across the street from my apartment complex with my neighbors and their friends. This is me trying to be social. I don't get a lot of that aside from people in the lab and the occasional visit to friends from undergrad. Wednesday night is, in effect, my weekend. But Wednesday night is also karaoke night. (Never mind the fact that I feel pretty inadequate socializing in loud bars. Conversations with me end up being a lot of "WHAT!!" and don't last long because I swear to god the conversational part of my brain, weak as it already is, does a full shutdown above certain noise levels.)

It was a small crowd last Wednesday, and I had it in my mind I was going to sing. I was riding a bit of an emotional high. The day before I had thought about a song that I felt I could do. So I wrote out a request card, and was planning on holding onto it for awhile as I mulled things over, but my apartmentmate stole it from me (in true Jay form) and handed it off to be submitted. I was due up sometime soon, and I'd be singing For What It's Worth by Buffalo Springfield. I had 22 ounces of beer in me. I could do this.

At this point I'm going to provide some analysis of what I feel are the two opposing elements that dictate a good karaoke performance. One element is actually being really good. Having a good voice, having good stage presence, the like. People eat that shit up and you'll make people wonder what the heck this amazing talent is doing in some backwater hick bar. There's another element that's totally unrelated to the first, though, and enjoyed on an entirely different level. You need to be really drunk. But not just any drunken state is going to suffice. You need to be hilarious, stumbling, shouty, call-me-Phil-Collins-'cause-I-don't-care-anymore drunk. And I don't think everyone gets that style of drunk.

I mean I certainly wasn't, and I probably wasn't even normal-drunk at that point. So where on the spectrum did I fall? Artist's rendering.

So there I was, too talentless to be lauded, too earnest to be heckled. Stuck in some uncomfortable valley between two peeks. I can't get over some of the similarities with the Casey and his Brother sketch. Stiffly moving around the stage, grimacing and looking extremely uncomfortable during the musical breaks, hesitantly starting up singing again trying not to mis-time an entry. It was awkward for me. I could see it being awkward for the people in the bar. I had a small cheering section, which meant I didn't have to walk off the stage in silence, and some guy high-five me on the way back (I fucking entirely missed the high five the first time around, in some "what the hell just happened" stupor). Jay said that it "was better than [he] thought it would be".

I think part of the human experience is being afraid or unwilling to do something, and then doing it and finding out that hey it's not that bad. You learn about yourself and come out a more confident and well-rounded person. Well unfortunately I didn't experience that. It just seemed incredibly unsatisfying.

I think it's unsatisfying because there's no resolution. I mean now I can say I tried and I didn't like it. Don't put yourself in a situation that's going to generate some weird self-loathing. But there's the other argument that maybe if I did it again and again I'd possibly desensitize myself to the whole process and end up enjoying it. Make a better person out of me.

Of course it begs the question, why is this a big deal? You did karaoke and you didn't like it; how is this news? I'm not sure. There's some sort of significance of it in my mind that I can't quite get out at the moment. Some sort of strange importance I can't yet grasp.