When your goal is to sing in all 48 states in a relatively short time span, you’re bound to have nights like Iowa. I got to the bar a tad early to watch the second half of Game 7 of the NBA Finals. While two screens did have it on, the sound was devoted to music provided by the KJ – mostly 80s rock. Kit-T-Kat was raring to go, her screen already up, she dressed in leopard print and matching cat ears.
Regulars gather at the corner of the bar and chat up the bartender, while another couple shoots pool. The small crowd at the bar begins an animated discussion over where they would want to bartend, if they could do so anywhere in the world. “Here,” replies the young bartender, “I like it here.” One of the patrons insists she’s wrong: A beach in Florida or California is a much better choice. He’s pretty insistent on his opinion being the only right answer, and as the conversation continues he gets more and more animated. The manager and bartender remind the two of them to use their “inside voices,” and when they fail to do so, the bartender tells them to leave until they can calm down. They walk out without protest, as if this is a usual thing.
It’s well past karaoke start time, but the game is close. Kit-T-Kat keeps wandering over to see if anyone wants to sing yet. She speaks into her headset to let people know that karaoke is fun and you don’t have to be good to do it. She proves as much by doing an interesting rendition of “Squeeze Box” wandering over to the bar to perform to those of us more interested in the Game, discussions about future bartending aspirations, or anything else for that matter.
When she finishes, there are still no takers. She puts the music back on and when “Funky Town” is played, an old man raises the roof and starts to sing a bit to himself. The brothers decide they can behave themselves and come back in. As soon as the Cavaliers win – staging the biggest comeback in NBA history – the old man asks if the TV can be switched to the World Series of Poker. I guess it’s time to sing.
I sing “Only the Lonely” because it’s mellow and funny to do so. I hold back my vocals because everyone seems pretty relaxed and interested in their own conversations, pool games, and poker watching. Still, they do applaud when I finish. No one wants to sing after me. The KJ goes outside to hang out with a drunk couple chilling on the patio. I go home, wondering if anyone else sang that night.
By the way: I think I’d want to bartend in Toronto. Or possibly Vietnam. Or Eastern Europe somewhere. Day shift only.
- Location: AJ’s on East Court, Des Moines, IA
- Miles traveled: 307
- Songs sung: Only the Lonely (The Motels)