The Laker Club (Singing New Jersey, #26)

The evening was more about reconnection than karaoke. An odd group of folks, bonded mostly by our shared high school experience, growing up in a small town in New Jersey. A place that thrived on strong community, which stifled me as a teen, but helped me build a foundation of loyalty and commitment to those who are a part of my direct and indirect circles today.

Our Middle School, where the Principal wouldn’t allow us to wear shorts until it hit a million degrees, and my friend Amy got sent home for wearing a “Disco Sucks” T-shirt.


Our gathering was more like the Breakfast Club than a group of friends getting together. We didn’t share the same class in any sense of the word – then or now. Two long-standing couples, one covered in tattoos and dealing with grandparenthood, the other more clean-cut with their first going to college. A mayor and a man helping his family rebuild after the death of the father. A pharmacist and an older sister who was proclaimed “the best baby sitter in the world” by another at the table. Someone who came from hundreds of miles away, dropping back into our lives unexpectedly, after only being in them briefly way back when. All brought together through the past, with a little present thrown in.

The KJ wanders over to our table and passes out microphones as he cued up Piano Man – a song typically seen as the death of karaoke. Perhaps it was to the rest of the bar (my condolences to the other patrons), but for us it was a bond. As he accompanied us on his harmonica, we all began to sing. Those who shy away from the microphone and the stage in general, and those of us who embrace it. I have a vague memory of Senior year when we all got together one week before graduation for some random event. The class musician played that song as good as Billy Joel ever did and we sang together. Never did I think it would happen again. A repeat of the past, with thirty years in between to shift us all so that no moment can ever be the same.

Brenda and Peter
“Son, can you play me a memory…”
Marie and Susan
“…And you’ve got us feeling alright.”

Dear 1980s,

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Wednesday night in a bar because of where we grew up or who we love. We have a few common threads, but we think you’re crazy to have us recreate who we were. That would be to see us in the simplest terms. The most convenient definitions. As people who refused to grow.

But what we found out is that we have changed, but also stayed the same. That each of us is a singer, and a mayor, and a baby sitter, a griever and someone lost to distant memory. What do you think of that?


The Laker Club

group shot_cropped
Almost all of us that night.


Thanks to everyone who came out and made the evening such a memorable one.

The basics:

  • Location: Rockaway River Barn, Rockaway, NJ
  • Miles Traveled: 307
  • Songs sung: Long Train Running (Doobie Brothers), Piano Man (Billy Joel), Don’t Stop Believing (Journey)

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