Monday, January 7, 2013

You Can Stand Under My Umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh

Portland, Oregon is famous for many things.  Our Rose Festival parade is the second-largest all-floral parade in the United States, we house both the country's largest city park and largest bookstore, we are home to professional NBA and NSL teams, the television shows 'Portlandia', 'Leverage', and 'Grimm' are filmed within our city limits, and Portland, Oregon holds the distinction of having both the highest number of microbreweries and strip clubs per capita of any U.S. city.*

*You stay classy, Portland.

The other thing Portland is (slightly) less famous for is our proliferation of shitty karaoke bars, generally located in the back of a B-rated Chinese restaurant specializing in kung pao of questionable origin and well drinks strong enough to strip the paint off a Buick.  My friend Kelly and I consider ourselves to be aficionados of Portland karaoke; which is not to say that we are extraordinary singers, but rather that we are adept at picking the locations with the greatest number of anti-Darwinian sideshow freaks.  On any given weekend, we can be found ensconced in our corner booth at Hong's Dynasty, heckling away like Statler and Waldorf on Red Bull.

"Ooh!"  Kelly cackled with glee.  "Check out the genetic bouillabaisse that just walked through the door!"

I gaped openly as a group of flannel-clad 20-somethings with dubious facial hair and so many piercings they looked like fell face-first into a tackle box walked through the door.

"Are they filming 'Cops' in town this weekend?"  I asked, popping a suspicious-smelling potsticker into my mouth.

Kelly shook her head in awe.  "I get the whole edgy-hipster chin pubes thing, but what's with all the piercings?  I mean, did they wake up one morning and think 'Hmm, in this stagnant job market, what could I possibly do to make myself MORE unemployable'?"

"No lie", I agreed.  "when that Kurt Cobain wanna-be walked by his nose rings were rattling so hard I thought Marley's ghost was heralding the Ghost of Baristass Past."

We chortled with laughter as Mung Jin and Li-Chen began setting up the microphones and handing out the song books.  As I was refilling my tea, Kelly reached out to stroke the cuff of my jacket.

"This coat is fabulous!"  she cried.  "It looks vintage!"

I straightened up smugly so Kelly could get a better look at my coat.  And, honestly?  It.  Is.  Exquisite.  A three-quarter length ruby red wool, silk lined, hand stitched, circa-1942 Saks 5th Avenue original.  The collar and cuffs are leopard and every time I wear it I feel a little like Grace Kelly. . .or Cruella deVille, but either way: Yea, me!

"It IS vintage!"  I gushed.  "The buttons are new, but everything else is from the original design!"

Suddenly, Kelly's hand jerked away from my coat as though she'd been burned.  "Wait. . .1940's vintage?"   I noted the haunted look in her eyes.* 

*Now, allow me a brief segue to explain something about Kelly.  Although she is my closest friend, we are polar opposites.  While I am a soulless Republican NRA member with a particular penchant for the taste of charred flesh, Kelly is  a knee-jerk Liberal vegan who regularly donates to PETA and petitions globally for animal rights.  Damned hippie. . .

"So,"  Kelly continued.  "So. . .the fur collar, and. . .and the cuffs?  They're really. . ."

I sighed, knowing she would not let this one go.  "Dead.  They are so, very, very dead."  

Kelly closed her eyes for a moment in abject horror.  "Oh, God.  I just couldn’t wear something like that.  How can you walk around knowing an animal died for the sake of fashion?"

"Sweetie," I whispered, patting her hand reassuringly.  "I would machete a field of kittens to get to a half-price shoe sale; this coat is a mere blip on my moral radar."

Kelly groaned, burying her face in her palms. "This?  Right here?  Is why you are my ONLY Republican friend."

"Oh, lighten up, Alicia Silverstone, I was only kidding."  I laughed, tossing a packet of soy sauce at her head.  "Do I think it’s OK to slaughter elephants for ivory or test L’Oreal lip plumper on bunnies?  No.  But if medical testing on a lab rat or two means the difference between life and death for a child with cancer then Templeton and Ratatouille can go pound sand."

"But that coat. . ." Kelly sputtered.

". . .was made back when everyone smoked and drank and made Thalidomide flipper babies."  I interjected, gesturing wildly  "They didn’t know any better.  Trust me, this little guy would have been dead from old age long before now. So, fear not, Sarah McLachlan; he's in the 'aaaaaaaarms of the aaaaaaangels. . .'"

Kelly chuckled in spite of herself.  "You're just a midget and a hairless cat away from being Dr. Evil, my friend."

I shrugged nonchalantly, stroking my jacket's soft leopard cuffs.*

*"My preeeeeeeciiiioooouuuusssss. . .

"I guess I just don't have that same 'spiritual connection' to animals that most people have."  I mused.  "I mean, I don't even understand why people have pets.  Why would I want an animal living inside my home?   Isn't that why mankind created houses to begin with?  To keep the animals OUT?  Besides, I have enough trouble keeping my kids from jumping on the counters and crapping on the floor."

Kelly, the consummate animal lover and owner of enough dogs and cats to open her own PetCo, gaped at me in astonishment.  "You don't get it, Jen.  Our pets aren't just animals to me and the kids.  They're our family."

I repressed a small shudder recalling the state of Kelly's home and the overwhelming stench of wet dog in her car.  "I don't know, Kell.  My sister is family too, but that doesn't mean I want to pick up her shit with plastic baggies and watch her lick her own ass."

Kelly sighed sadly, no doubt wondering what deity she pissed off to be saddled with a douchebag like me.  But while I may be a heartless bastard, I at least have the foresight to know that friends like Kelly are harder to come across than a Romney For President sticker on the back of a Prius, so I appealed to her better nature by buying her some tofu spring rolls and giving her first crack at mocking the next karaoke abomination singer.  Fortunately, the victim in question was an aging hipster in a 'Facts of Life' T-shirt attempting to best out Rihanna's "Shut Up and Drive". . ."Attempting" being the operative word here.*

*OK, and before you start getting all defensive and ask "How can you make fun of these people?  Can YOU do any better?"  Why yes...yes we can.  Both Kelly and I are trained singers; I have a rich alto voice and Kelly has a mezzo soprano that could make the angels weep.  However, since we prefer to use our powers for evil rather than good, we were all over this chick like sugar ants on a Twinkie.

"Well, she got the "Shut Up" part right."  Kelly remarked drolly.  "This chick is the Professor Emeritus of suck."

I laughed delightedly.  "Word.  She sucks worse than an Amish whore."

"She makes William Hung sound like freaking Kelly Clarkson."  Kelly shot back with a challenging grin.  Oh, game on, my friend.

"She's the worst thing to happen to Rihanna since Chris Brown!"

"Someone needs to send up an "S.O.S." on her singing."

"Well played.  Hey!  Ri-Ri!  Shut it before I go upside your head with my umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh!"

We doubled over in paroxysms of laughter, grabbing each other's hands and howling.

"This?  Right here?"  Kelly said, wiping her eyes.  "Is why we're friends.  Even though I am a patchouli-scented tree-hugger and you are a soulless heretic. Wer're both equal assholes in the eyes of the Lord."

I smiled at Kelly warmly.  "I love you, Sarah MacLachlan."

"Right back atcha, Sarah Palin."


Leauxra said...

I want to hang out with you and your friends. Seriously. I'll build my tiny 100 square foot house and drag it out to Portland if I have to.

Johi Kokjohn-Wagner said...

"She sucks worse than an Amish whore". I had to put my phone down and weep into my arm on that one.

Jennifer Clark said...

You really must have been on your very best behavior when we had lunch last summer. I feel rather jipped! I never have *that* much fun eating out.

Jen said...

LEAUXRA - Any time! Me couch es su couch, Sistah! :)

JOHI - I'm a giver like that.

JENNIFER - Trust me, if our short people hadn't all been at the table it would have denigrated quickly! :)

Kelly said...

Templeton is a total dick, but if Ratatouille washed his hands well enough, he could chef away for me any day.

Laura said...

While sucks worse than an Amish whore is one of your best... I am loving We're all over that shit like sugar on a twinkie.

Oh honey. I would love to hang with you and your friends sometime... and I wouldn't even attempt to sing.

Anonymous said...

So under your arbitrary and convenient rules of assholery, if say, someone from the East Coast were to come out to visit your hood, and you were to take her to a Kareoke bar, and her actual singing ability was on par with William Hung's tone deaf younger brother . . . would said visitor still be allowed to mercilessly mock the singers? I'm just asking. You know, for a friend.

Curtis said...

Next trip I plan on being Statler and Waldorf's snarky and *cough* younger *cough* sidekick... I seriously feel like I missed out! I was alone in mockery of the Boiler Room patrons. It just wasn't the same.

Anonymous said...

Why is Karaoke always such a freak show? In my college town we had this guy who was infamous for dressing like Ozzy Osbourne and cruising all the Karaoke nights. When I finally saw him, he was a ringer for the oz-man, only more spacy and tattered (if that's possible).
I had no idea Portland was such a hot spot for this musical exhibitionism. I'll have to drag my mom out next time I visit her

mark said...

Now I know what goes on at all those dirty karaoke bars that line the streets of metro Vancouver. I value my health too much to venture inside them.

TheOtherLisa said...

I love that you're back to blogging. The world was less without these stories. Also, I would be willing to travel out from the east coast and duet with Misty.

I bet I could make William Hung's tone deaf younger brother sound like Pavarotti.

Andrea said...

It really isn't much fun to watch people who can actually sing do karaoke, is it?

Valerie said...

Singing karaoke is actually on my bucket list... Tho I will have to dedicate time for singing lessons and public speaking work shops first. I'm that bad...



Gia said...

Haha! I would never karaoke - at least I KNOW I suck at it.

PS - just watched portlandia for the first time this weekend. thought you should know.

Tiffany said...

Awesome. Y'all sound so very fun.

Chin pubes & the Ghost of Baristas Past - golden.

Also, small dogs = slightly oversized rats = things to be dropkicked and never seen again.
Big dogs = very oversized rats = bullet magnet so my kids & I don't get shot by the burglar & hopefully the dog will gnaw off the burglar's arm before getting pumped full of lead (which will never happen because I won't let the dog in the house, so I'll just have to taser the hypothetical intruder to save my kids and continue hating the dog in my back yard). I hate those things. All they do is dig up my garden and crap where the kids play, and it's another mouth to feed.

Erica Burns said...

One of the things that makes your blog such a great read is your use of similes! They paint such a distinct picture, that we *know* exactly what you are talking about. Who needs adjectives!?

Anyway, I have never done Karaoke or even gone to see it, mainly because 1)I have a three note range, that is often quite off key (yet, I can almost always tell when someone else is off key and/or hitting the wrong note) and 2) and don't know any place that offers such entertainment, besides the Korean Restaraunt. My guess is no English is sung there.

Eunice said...

You wouldn't like my house then (even if it is a little cottage that's around 250 years old!) with the three cats and four hens. The hens live outside, but sometimes it rains and I feel sorry for them and let them come in and sit on the kitchen mat. And there was that one time the 8-year-old hen went into the living room and settled down on the carpet next to one of the cats.

WeezaFish said...

Kareoke! Always good for laughs, often at others expense .. but never mind hey :-) Speaking as a vegetarian hippy who detests the use of fur in fashion, that coat sounds GORGEOUS! Go rock the Grace Kelly thing. Ahem.

WeezaFish said...

Ah, fun with similes. Why didn't they teach us to use similes that way in school? English would've been way more fun. Flutters like a butterfly my arse. Can I just say, as a vegetarian hippy who detests fur in fashion ... coat sounds GORGEOUS doll, you rock that Grace Kelly!! Ahem.

Justamom said...

OMG I just love you and your friends. I so have to find a way to get to Portland and totally stalk you.

I wonder how many people understood the Statler and Waldorf reference, without Google. Pure Genius.