"Having a great time! Get here soon."
I stared down at my Blackberry and tried to avoid contact with the rush of people moving in the opposite direction in Times Square. "David wants us there right away."
Sarah grinned and tried not to cough. "I know. I just got one, too."
We were navigating our way to our respective hotels against the holiday rush, to drop off our traveling stuff after a round of drinks with a friend. David had started the night with us at a bar, but he booked things tighter than three Biggest Losers crammed in an elevator, and had to pop up to pop out, halfway through our first drink. After politely excusing himself, he asked us to finish things us and then GET TO THE KARAOKE BAR ASAP.
Despite the luggage and the hotel, we made it there in half an hour.
It was a place called Karaoke One 7, located on West 17th between 5th and 6th. We were escorted into a tiny room with pea green walls, the shade of Linda Blair's vomit, with a TV mounted to the wall and little signs posted everywhere, kind of like the ones my father leaves everywhere at his beach house: "Don't leave this light on after you leave the room." "Make sure you turn the oven off. It won't do it itself." "Do not leave URINE DROPS on the toilet seat." (Oh, wait. That last one wasn't from Dad's beach house. That was from a place I used to work, years ago. How did that get in there?)
Back at the karaoke bar. There's David with his friends, singing away to "Viva La Vida" at the top of their lungs.
Now, I have to tell you, it's a strange feeling, meeting folks in a karaoke bar when they've been going at it for a while already. In fact, I think there's an official term for it: karaokus interruptus.
Yes, karaokus interruptus. You know, they've had a few drinks and are all loosened up and singing away, and you're standing there, feeling like Margaret Hamilton on the set of the Wizard of Oz, gazing into Billie Burke's powder pink dressing room. You just feel kind of out of place at first, a little tense, a little behind the eight ball.
Then you start the process of singing along, but at first you don't feel the mojo. You stand there kind of stiffly, your lips pursed, not feeling like Coldplay. You're more Ethel Merman singing her disco version of "There's No Business Like Show Business." It takes time to tape into your inner rock star and really let loose.
But once you do...
Cut to: an hour later, three Queen songs and an equal number of cosmos in my belly. There I am, belting it out, fighting against David to sing louder. Those high notes don't sound quite like they used to, but even so...who cares?
Our waitress opens the door to the room. "It's, um, eight o'clock. Your time is up."
"Already?" I yell out. "Damn, I don't want to stop!"
Eventually, I stumble my way out of the karaoke bar, feeling like it's Christmas morning. Blame it on the drink and the song, but also the fact that I haven't really eaten since the morning. Still, I was pretty certain I was feeling Jerusalem bells a'ringing.
The night flies by after that. A quick trip down a couple of blocks to a diner that serves breakfast, and a chance to solve all the worlds problems over coffee and eggs. A lingering walk through the holiday streets and cold winter air to get back to Broadway. A visit to Rockefeller Center with all the colorful lights on. I like the sparkles the best.
It was a wicked and wild wind that had blown over me, but those are the times in your life when you feel most alive, I think, and it was a nice way to start off my birthday week-end, a few days early.