For the past four years, I've spent day one of the calendar year drinking double Absolut Mandarins on the rocks all day in the International District in the lounge at the Four Seas restaurant with my dear friends from the old Luau Polynesian Lounge. They've held their white-elephant exchange there on New Year's Day for over a decade now, and since it got to the point where I spent more time at that bar than every employee, they took me in as an honorary family member. The Luau has been gone for almost a year now, but the New Year's all-day drink-a-thon will live on forever.
Leading up to this year's reunion, we got the best news ever. Al, our good friend and owner of the Four Seas, let us know they now had a full computerized karaoke setup, and it would be available to us the entire day. When I say available, I mean no-host: It was a free-for-all. We had total control of the KJ station to order our songs, and just had at it. That lounge was basically our own private karaoke room for five hours.
Unlike the goof-around show on the Magic Mic the night before, I was focused and tried my best to stay on point. I had to represent. There was real talent in the room that day. Our friend Thomas (whom I'd always heard had an amazing voice) established a level of excellence with his breathtaking renditions from classic R&B and soul artists like Stevie Wonder and Otis Redding. There's no way I could hang at his skill level, but I brought my top-shelf stuff (Seger, Springsteen, Elton John) to show him there's no hype around me either. It was a great time. My friend Pauline, who tends bar at my regular karaoke spot Tarasco, and never sings, totally cut loose and took the mike like 10 times. I also discovered my friend Emily is an undercover ringer. Her smooth delivery of "No Diggity" was not something that can be pulled off by accident. She totally has the fever. The KJ arrived during his regularly scheduled start time. It wound up being Christopher, one of the main KJs at Bush Garden a couple blocks away. I don't know how Al was able to land him, but this guy is a superstar. He likes to change lyrics to songs to give them a more local feel. His best offering of the night was a number he calls "Seattle State of Mind," sung to the melody of the Billy Joel classic.
That day was so awesome, I got the perfect idea to have my birthday party there the following Saturday. I talked to Al about it and told him I could easily bring in 30 people, and he said he'd have the karaoke ready for me by six. The next day the Seahawks beat the St. Louis Rams to advance and host Superbowl champions the New Orleans Saints the day of my party. I almost rescheduled it to Friday. I decided many years ago I would never gamble on the home team. Seattle sports teams will rip your heart out anyway; there's no sense losing money over them. But having my party on a day that would be in the shitter, guaranteed, if they lost would be just as bad as dropping a hundred bucks on them. But the game time schedule worked out nicely--we could walk straight to the bar from Quest after the game, so I had no choice but to roll the dice.
Well, we won. I have witnessed miracles in that stadium a couple times (Jay Feely of the Giants missing three field goals in November '05, and Tony Romo's botched hold of a game-winning field-goal attempt in the '07 playoffs), but that Marshawn Lynch run might be the craziest thing I've ever seen. My buddies and I were on such a high by the time we got to the Four Seas I barely felt the three shots of Jager I had in the first 15 minutes there.
Thinking back, I seem to recall most of the night, but people I've spoken with since told me I was smashed. From the very start, we all took a page out of KJ Christopher's book and made every song about the Seahawks. I opened with "Seahawks Are Just Alright With Me." I always wanted to try that Doobies number, but always felt it was out of my range. I was right, but it was still fun to praise the Hawks with that one. My friend Val, who is as natural as natural gets onstage, sang "Hungry Like the Hawk." "Love on the Hawks" was the first offering from my buddy Mike. He was the best at the song parodies that night, adding new verses and referencing specific Seahawks players. He sang a song called "Oh Marshawn" in the style of Barry Manilow's "Mandy," changing the chorus to "and you ran and you ran without tackling." Then his song "Russell Okung" in the style of "Purple Rain" brought joyous tears to my eyes. If I'd been a just a bit more coherent, I might have been able to get creative, but the best I could do was work in the word "Seahawks" whenever I could. It was the best time, but the game did wind up affecting my desire to stay at my own party. All I wanted to do after the Jets beat Indy was go home and watch Sports Center highlights of the game over and over again.
There's one last thing about Four Seas karaoke that night. They had a different KJ this time. It was this Filipino kid named Jarrod, and this dude can sing. I was pretty consumed with everything that was going on around me, but every time this guy took the mike, it was something special. Go check it out before it gets too crazy over there--and say hi to Al for me.
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