Karaoke Bar

The night had begun a bit rocky. After months of job searching, she had gotten a research assistant position in psychiatry at their university. On this particular Friday, she received a call from the university explaining that they may have over-hired and that she would probably be dropped. A wave of depression crashed over her. She called him crying, unsure of what to do about money, since she had already given her two weeks at both of her jobs. The stress she was under covered her face like a mask as she walked into his work. “Are you okay sweetie?” He asked, placing a gentle hand on the small of her back, leading her to one of the galleries in the art building.

“I just feel really depressed. I really wanted that job”

“I know sweetie, and it’s shitty and highly unprofessional that they would do that on such short notice after you filled out paper work.” Her start date was supposed to be that Monday and she had done four hours of IRB training on top of it. He tried to draw her attention to free food and a showing of someone’s installation at the art building. They walked around the building for a while wasting time until he got off at seven. His friend T, the one moving in with them, was going to meet them at a lecture being given on Frank Lloyd Wright.

He and she arrived, finding a place to sit in the front row. T showed up a couple minutes late, sitting next to her. He and T had a conversation about the art director being there, which had been a constant debacle over the past few months. T had criticized school policy and had been going to meeting after meeting with this man intimidating and threatening him. T had planned to do an open letter about the situation, especially due to the fact that the director had blocked T from the following year’s registration.

As the lecture progressed, the trio found themselves utterly bored and disappointed though the afterword of discussion was slightly comical, since the speaker choked on his spit and claimed he was merely losing his voice. They all left, in need of a couple beers to take the edge off of a long week. “Do you want to go to the karaoke bar?” T asked the group. Her eyes lit up. She had been begging them for weeks to go, since she hadn’t sang for a crowd in at least a year. Suddenly, there was a veil of excitement draping over them.

He had his doubts going in. “I hate going to new bars. I always feel like when I walk in, everyone is wondering who the new guy is at their bar.” She and T laughed, as that exact thing happened. The place was run down and seemed like the perfect hangout for veterans due to the amount of American flags decorating the walls. T went to a separate counter to get food while he and she stopped around the corner where the bar was. An older couple, looking ragged as though many years of smoking like a chimney had caught up to them, was heavily making out, not even noticing he and she had walked up. He ordered them a pitcher and brought it into another room that resembled the plastic wood walls and aesthetically unappealing look of the DMV. There was a table set up where anyone could walk up and choose whatever song they wanted to sing. He, she, and T noticed a slew of awful performances, though recognizing that sometimes this was the point of karaoke.

She made a point to chug her first beer before going up with the first song of choice, “All of Me,” by John Legend. Standing up there, her heart had been pounding out of her chest, restricting her airflow. The thumping of her heart rocked her voice in places she was dissatisfied with, but as the song ended, regulars shouted out nice things at her. When she sat back down, he wrapped his arm around her back and offered her another beer while praising her courage.

They listened to a few more performances, some good and some awful, until she went up one last time singing, “Misery Business,” by Paramore. At that point, she had exerted enough energy for one night and slammed the last of the second pitcher they’d brought to the table when she’d been singing. He was proud that she was able to get out some frustration singing. She had no other place to sing, since her apartment complex complained that it was too loud. The trio headed out to the car, ending the night somewhat early. The beers had relieved enough stress to get them through the night.

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