Friends don't let friends drive drunk.
Friends do, however, often let friends Karaoke drunk.
If you're not familiar with the, uh, device, a Karaoke is a technological miracle that combines MTV and the average schmo.
A Karaoke removes the vocals from a musical recording and displays some inane video to accompany the vocal-less music. The song's lyrics are displayed along the bottom of the display. Add one live microphone and a drunken fool and, viola, it's entertainment.
Too many inebriated, tone-deaf patrons do tend to rattle the nerves, but Karaoke actually is entertaining.
The secret to Karaoke's success isn't hard to fathom.
Everyone sings, whether in the shower or along with the car radio.
DESPITE protests to the contrary, we all think we can sing well. The human ego is an enormous thing, and if it sounds good to us have you ever cringed at your own voice? we figure it sounds good to others.
Few people, completely sober, would contemplate singing in front of a raucous, beer-swilling crowd. Many people, plastered, would and, actually, not every who partakes is loaded.
It's no coincidence Karaokes are found only in bars.
It's that combination, found only in bars filled with shower-singers, that the prescient Karaoke People foresaw, and it's the reason Karaoke is so popular. It's the reason that Karaoke-ing can be found, on any given night, somewhere, sometime, in Lawrence. It's the reason you have to put your name on a list and wait your turn at Karaoke-ing, and it's the reason patrons get abusive when the Karaoke Guy starts to pack up for the night.
KARAOKE virgin? Nervous about your first encounter with the beast? Here are a few pointers from a man who has never, ever Karaoked and has vowed never, ever, to Karaoke in the future. Maybe.
Peruse the play list that undoubtably will be placed nearby. Pick a song you're familiar with, so you'll know the music's subtle nuances. And be forewarned: The scrolling lyrics don't always match the music perfectly. It's best if you know the words by heart. Saves stress. Embarrassment's one thing, stress is another.
Drink, if you're so inclined, and hand over the car keys.
Be gracious, almost flattering, as the other patrons take their turns. If you plan eventually to join the Karaoke fraternity, it's best to be friendly. I've never seen a Karaoker booed off the stage, but it's better to have 'em laughing with you than at you. And don't worry about leaving a lasting impression: You're never so bad that someone else can't be worse.
Drink some more.
Warm up your pipes.
Sing your lungs out. Then drink again, if necessary, to ease the sting.
I'VE SEEN Karaoke-ing several times, and every time I've been impressed with at least one Karaoker's performance.
But that's not the point.
Karaoke's so popular, Karaoke's so fun, because its participants are average, untrained folks.
Karaoke's not about dispelling musical fantasies. It's about Everyman entertaining his peers.