I don’t think I literally live and work in cities of the dead until I have to get through certain days.
I got a few texts from one of my bosses before my shift started. There had been a shooting at an intersection in a city about 10 miles north of where I live. It involved an ex-boyfriend with a short temper and a gun crossing paths with a woman taking her two children to a day-care center.
I got there on time and talked to a police department spokesman, who pointed out the green spray-painted spots on the road where the woman’s sport-utility vehicle had gotten boxed in before the single shot rang out at a quarter to eight in the morning, with the kids still sitting and watching from the backseat.
I made it through today. Not everybody who started today did. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.
Every night I sing karaoke, it saves my life. Sometimes it saves someone else’s.
The guy who splits Mondays nights jockeying at a bar in a nearby shopping/nightlife corridor recently told some of his regulars to step their game up and stop singing the same four songs over and over again. That reminder, and the memory of a pal’s 52-pickup challenge last year, came to me when I got off work and felt like someone was rubbing a cello bow against my right ventricle.
So I went over to see what something I’d no memory of ever having sung felt like. I got enough air in me and remembered to breathe often enough to do all right on Tears for Fears’ “Head Over Heels.” Then, after a guy brayed through Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” his skinny full-sleeved sail-for-a-T-shirt skater kid pal started singing this sneakily perfect song I’d never heard before. Searching the lyrics, I realize he was doing Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees,” which I’d never actually heard before as I’d never listened to “The Bends.”
Taking heart at the song and his talent, I figured I’d close out by singing Morrissey’s “The More You Ignore Me (The Closer I Get).” The kid lost his shit and gave me a full-body wraparound bro-hug. He couldn’t stop talking about how “Vauxhall & I” had gotten him through high school in San Jose. He said he’d never seen a fellow black guy belt out Morrissey before.
I showed him that link from weeks ago about bad T-shirt idea sales, and listened to him complain righteously about tickets to canceled shows. I thought about it, but decided against telling him about seeing Moz at SXSW a decade ago. He bought me a small bottle of beer and declined my offer to buy him one. We toasted.
The KJ then called a jockey’s choice and, as if to reward me for wandering farther afield, made me sing one of my wheelhouse regulars, Kenny Loggins’ “Heart to Heart.” As I left, the kid was laying into the Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon” with every wheedle and warble he had in him.