Last night, my local karaoke bar closed its doors for the final time.
Anyone who knows me knows of my inordinate fondness for the empty orchestra. Mics Karaoke Bar & Grill has been, for the last several years, The Place for my wife and I. We’ve been known to visit upwards of three times a week. If you want to find us on a Friday night, you know where to look. If one of us has a birthday to celebrate, you needn’t ask where we’ll hold the festivities. It has become a second home for us, a place, like Cheers, where everyone knows our names.
We knew the end was near, though. The writing has been on the wall for some months now. The announcement, though it had come sooner than expected, was not a surprise. We had held out hope of the possibility that new owners would take over the place, but alas, it was not to be.
So last night, those of us who had spent so much time there packed the joint for a final hurrah.
And such a hurrah it was. The music was rockin’, the dance floor full, the room raucous. We sang along. We took pictures. We exchanged hugs and phone numbers. We promised ourselves that it wasn’t going to end here, that we will remain in touch, that the good times will go on.
The sadness didn’t begin setting in for me until after I had finished the last song I would perform on the Mics stage—Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is a Highway.” Knowing that it would be my finale, I gave it everything I had. My voice is still scratchy today, and for that I am glad. After I handed back the microphone and returned to my seat, though, the hard truth became somehow more real, and melancholy began to tinge the joy I felt at being with so many friends.
All too soon, the time came for the very last song of the night. Romulus (yes, that’s his real name) took the stage to sing us out—Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Naturally. We all joined in, giving our full-throated affirmation of every word of that sappy, sentimental tune. And after the final note, the goodbyes and the tears began in earnest. Every time I thought I had finished crying, I started again.
I can console myself with the knowledge that the proliferation of social media makes it much more likely that we will still see each other. But the fact remains that it will never truly be the same. We are lost souls now, refugees adrift, reduced to trolling sports bars and restaurants that feature karaoke nights in the corner, singing to people who would rather we just pipe down because they’re trying to have a conversation about yesterday’s game, fer Chrissakes.
It’s becoming clear that 2013 is a year of transition for me, in which people and places I hold dear wither and pass into memory. Yes, I know it’s the way of things, always has been, always will be. Doesn’t mean I have to like it. I suppose I’d better get used to it, though. This getting older business ain’t for the faint of heart.
My profound thanks to Reece and Stacy, the owners of Mics, for giving us all a stage and a full songbook. My heart hurts right now, but the joy they’ve afforded us will remain.