The Rising Star Fell
We walked into Pat O’Brien’s after only receiving an hour and a half notice that “Why, yes, we can accommodate your group of thirty. We apologize for not getting back to you sooner.” We arrived right at six o’clock and after the hassle we had received trying to get the reservation, I expected the place to be packed.
It was far from packed. It was practically empty.
As we walked through, being weaved past the empty tables to two sets of tables all the way in the back, I assumed that their lack of patrons on a Saturday night was why we received the call. “Get those 30 people in here! We need business or we’re sending employees home.” We had our revenge, though. Only twenty of our thirty showed up.
To be fair - and I’m always fair - the manager that called us with assurances gave us his personal number so that in the future we could call him directly bypassing the voicemails that no one answers. It was a step, at least, in the customer service direction. We’ll find out in three months if it really works. It’s probably a burner phone that he tossed in the neighboring dumpster at closing that night. I’ve heard about those phones on every police drama on television now and I’m positive that’s what the manager used. I could probably search the dumpster and find it with the leftover jambalaya.
Still, we had a great time. When you’re surrounded by great friends even the annoying situations aren’t that bad.
Dinner was nice as we sat in an open ceiling environment. It was like eating on our back porch only with fountains and a waiter. The sky was overcast, which allowed a nice breeze to keep us cool as clouds floated by overhead. We took our time, enjoying the food and the company as we mingled between the two sets of tables.
Whenever we make a trip to City Walk, the plan is always to spend some time in two or three of the hot spots. We usually pick one place for dinner and everyone meets there. Last time it was Margaritaville. This time we tortured Pat O’Brien’s. After our bellies are full and we’re ready for alcohol and dancing we then move on to another bar. This time out we selected Bob Marley’s.
No place is ever ready for a group our size, so it usually takes some adjusting to make us fit. Fred, one of the friends with us, worked with the manager of the nightclub who was more than willing to accommodate us as he saw dollar signs instead of people, and soon we had a corner all to ourselves next to the band. We had some time before the music started, which is never a problem as we’re great at entertaining ourselves. We ordered drinks, took pictures, and made fun of each other - three of the things we do best.
Once the band started several of us were dancing to the Reggae music and Bob Marley’s came alive. The girls and I swayed together, lost in the rhythm that snatched us up out of our seats and compelled us to dance. On the floor, in front of the band, was a little old man dressed all in blue, including a blue golfer’s hat. He was all alone, but he was still out there allowing the music to carry him away. His moves weren’t great, but they were better than mine and I couldn’t help but watch him. It takes a lot of guts to get out on a dance floor and dance by yourself, guts I know I don’t have. People stare at you as if you’re a sad individual begging for attention, especially if you’re a man. In my mind I was applauding this man’s courage to have fun, regardless of who was around.
After a couple of hours of the Reggae beat, we decided to hit another club.
The last time we invaded City Walk, the first hot spot we visited was the Rising Star, a karaoke bar where you sing in front of a live band as opposed to a CD. There were even backup singers to help you if you got lost. Since a couple of people in our merry band of merrymakers love to sing and were actually good at it, we decided to hit the club again on this venture. It was suppose to be our first stop, but some major corporation rented out three of the nightclubs strictly for the use of its employees. A nice treat for the employees, but a pain in the ass to the rest of the world who drove over to sing only to be told to return to their shower. I often wonder if it’s not Disney renting out Universal for its employees. Now that would be
funny to me.
We were told that the bar would be open to the tone deaf public at ten, so at ten we were in line to have our party pass scanned.
As we were walking over, meandering through the crowd of partiers mingling on the City Walk streets, we saw two men dancing for the entertainment of the people. Or themselves, I couldn’t really tell. One of them was the little old man from Bob Marley’s, only instead of a Reggae sway, he was now doing his version of hip hop, and as I watched him hop I worried about his hips being twisted out of place.
Another man stood a few feet away from him, trying to give him some competition, I assumed. While Blue Golf Hat wasn’t great at hip hop, he wasn’t terrible either. The other guy, however, could only sway and he was having trouble doing that. Sometimes when we’re drunk, we think we have all the talent in the world and are eager to show off our creative prowess. We think we’re Fred Astaire, but the world views us as Buster Keaton. (I’ve included links with those names for my younger readers.)
Finally, we made it inside the Rising Star and took the elevator up to the balcony, which we had mainly to ourselves for awhile. The singers in our group picked their songs and tossed their names in the bucket. The rest of us ordered more booze and settled in for the show.
Through the years as I’ve discussed Karaoke with friends, I have come to realize that there are only two camps on the subject - the lovers and the haters. Sarah loves it and a few years ago used to enter competitions and did quite well. Garth , on the other hand, hates it. Tell him you’re going to a karaoke bar that night and he wishes you a good time while he stays home and catches up on The Mess. I treat it like any other bar. I go, drink, chat and watch the other drunks stumble around. When the singers are good, I applaud. When they’re bad, I still applaud, because they at least had the guts to get up there and be bad in front of the world. They had fun and they weren’t going to allow a small thing like not having talent keep them from enjoying themselves. Of course, the next day when they discover that a friend put a video of them singing off key on YouTube, they wish they had stayed seated. Technology has made embarrassing moments something to be shared with the world.
The first round of enthusiastic singers belted out their songs and none from our group were in that set. The Center Stage Band took a break. A very lengthy break. Another round of drinks was ordered. Actually, we had to go get our own drinks as I had not seen a waitress on the balcony since I sat down. Not good business if you ask me, which you didn’t, but I felt like telling you anyway. I would have ordered more drinks if I didn’t have to fetch them myself. I’m lazy this way. When I enter an establishment that is service orientated, I expect to be served. It’s why I don’t tip the McDonald’s employee behind the counter. Bring my food to my table and I’ll tip you. Hide behind the counter and make me come to you and it’s not going to happen.
The karaoke portion began again and the second person up was a girl who had already sung the first time around. The girl after her was a repeat, as well. Neither had been talented enough for an encore performance. At least, not before everyone else had a chance to embarrass themselves. We made a complaint, because we demand fairness in all things and finally Sarah’s name went up as one of the next few to perform. However, the band took another of their lengthy breaks and we surrendered the night, wanting to return to the hotel.
As we made our way out, I noticed Mr. Blue Golf Hat standing by the escalator to City Walk’s lower level, sipping a mixed drink and watching the young girls in miniskirts. Sarah said that he had been inside the Rising Star leaning up against one of the walls, studying the crowd. I suddenly felt as if I was being stalked.
Part of our group had driven over, so they went on to their vehicles while the rest of us chose to hail a cab instead of walking. Six rum punches will take the fifteen minute walk out of you. Like airports, City Walk has an area where cabbies hang out waiting for people just like us. As Char and Katie stepped off the escalator to Cab Alley, a lady with an island accent approached them and asked if they needed a taxi. I wonder how many people went down there who didn’t need a taxi.
“Follow me,” the lady said, and without waiting for a response, she turned and headed toward her car. Not a taxi.
As we neared the vehicle, the first thing I thought was that it looked quite a bit like the black FBI SUVs they drive on Criminal Minds. Teri and I looked at each other and voiced the same concern. “Are we sure this is a taxi?”
The lady must have heard us, because once she settled behind the steering wheel, she pulled out her cabbie identification and license to assure us she was legit. However, as she pulled out onto Universal Drive, she called someone on her cell phone and began talking in another language. My paranoid mind interpreted her words as “six more heading your way,” and I imagined we were being taken to the Human Trafficking Depot. Don’t laugh. It happens.
It took us just as long to get back to the hotel by taxi as it did to walk to Universal. Once I was back in my room, I opened my bottle of Jameson, poured myself a quadruple, which is two doubles in one glass, and had the girls order pizza. I slumped in the chair as people talked and laughed around me. I was drained, but it was a good exhaustion, the kind that comes from a great night out with friends and stories to talk about over the next few months. And honestly, that’s the reason for going Messing in the first place, the adventure of creating lasting memories. What are some of yours?
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