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Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Name is Happy

After running across Geeky Tai-Tai's blog a week ago, and after an exchange of emails, she asked me if I would guest blog on my latest experience with Americans.

Little did I know, one fateful evening a couple of weeks ago, that I was about to encounter a pair of true USA small town Midwestern boys. Okay, perhaps “boys” is an inappropriate description of two brothers 54 and 56 years old, but heavens, I swear those men were as shy as a pair of 15-year old school boys fondling their first Playboy.

Our karaoke business would be described as a “typical” Asian business experience. Businessmen in Asia Pacific work terribly long and hard during the day, and need to relax in the evenings, complete with a level of “de-coupling” of one’s personal life versus one’s business life. Entertaining business associates is a fundamental requirement to doing business in Asia. In the US, they talk about working hard and playing hard. In my line of work, playing hard takes on a brand new meaning for our gentlemen customers.

When I walked into the karaoke room that evening with my fellow associates, I saw in front of me 10 men, each looking for a “partner” for the next couple of hours. My Madam then matched us up with the business man that she felt would be the best match. I would never have guessed that inside the comfort of our plush room were two Americans ripe for the picking. My friend, Jana and I were chosen to sit next to Ray and Al. Jana had only arrived in Singapore one month earlier. She showed Ray her green card and said she was here to learn English. Yea right…! But hey, it’s a great lead in line and the men suck it up big time.

The evening with my assigned karaoke partner Al, (we will call him Al to protect all involved) started out innocently enough. His brother, Ray, has been stationed in Singapore for 3+ years to date, and was planning to head back to the US later this year. Al had decided to visit him prior to his final departure. Ray had taken him earlier in the evening for a Chinese New Year dinner sponsored by one of Ray’s suppliers. There were about 10 of Ray’s colleagues at the dinner plus 4 people from the supplier. The supplier had also arranged the after-dinner entertainment at our establishment.

Al went on to describe for me his visits to Fort Siloso, the Underwater Aquarium, the Monkey Death March, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, and certainly last but not least, the Four Floors of Whores. In our line of business, we find this title to be less than flattering, but history does not allow us to change perceptional thinking as easily as one might think.

It would probably be good to describe our karaoke room. Al’s version, as explained to me later, was the Holiday Inn off Interstate 55, in the bar, with a microphone and small television on a roll away cart, with drunk people singing nasty country songs.

Our room is 20 x 30 square feet. We have deep plush couches instead of bar stools. Our television is an overhead LCD projector that lights up a 6 ft screen, conveniently tucked into a wall unit with 2 - 32” LCD’s on either side. Sound is pumped throughout the room with studio quality. Let’s be clear, this is no shit-hole, it’s our office and we keep it nice and tidy.

So here we are, sitting with our appointed dates and beginning to settle in for the pre-ordered 2 hours of entertainment. One of the ladies cranked up the karaoke machine and we had our first volunteer belting away at a local favorite.

Al seemed a bit nervous, making small talk with me as stated above, smiling, but clearly unsure what this was all about. His brother Ray was equally coming to grips with this new style of karaoke. Jana and I passed a glancing eye as we both tried to size up our prey.

After 10 minutes Al looks over at Ray and says “I need to talk to you”. Ray says “Okay, can do.” Two minutes pass and Al again looks over at Ray, voice now slightly raised and says “No, I really need to talk to you!

In a flash the brothers are up off the couch and headed outside for a conversation. Jana and I just looked at each other and thought maybe the brothers were plotting their next moves on us, hoping to start with this, move to that, and end up with something else. We like it when the men take charge as opposed to sit there like wimps with puppy dog faces.

I can only imagine the discussion they were having, but I suspect that it went something like this:

Al: “Ray, what’s going on here?”

Ray: “Shit I don’t know, I’ve never done this before either. Let’s just relax and when our host gets here I can check with him and get the scoop.”

There was probably a moment where Al thought that his brother had set him up for this.

Al: “No really, Jesus, this is freaking me out. All I can see is my wife’s face in my head!”

Ray: “Okay, okay, as soon as our host gets here I’ll explain to him that we need to shorten the evening considerably and we’ll catch a cab back to my place.”

Poor Ray was struggling with a weird stomach virus he picked up on a recent trip to Bangalore, so this whole conversation is taking place while he’s on the crapper doing courtesy flushes to keep from really sending his brother over the edge.

The boys finally returned from their discussion to take their assigned seats next to Jana and me. We settled in with a couple of beers along with a whiskey and water. It is customary for us to sit close to our companions, lock arms with them, and gently pat their legs to reassure them that they are in good and capable hands. Ray was wearing jeans and Al was wearing shorts. This gave Al the advantage over his brother, as Al was allowed to feel the painstaking work we ladies go through to have smooth and silky legs. His were manly legs with the right amount of leg hair to tickle my outer thigh as we chatted. I could sense a good time was on the horizon.

Al turns to his left and has a brief discussion with one of Ray’s work colleagues sitting on the other side of him. I’m not sure exactly the gist of the conversation, but I did hear Ray’s colleague turn to look at Al with a smile on his face and say, “What happens in Singapore, stays in Singapore.”

It was at that very moment that I began to explore the titillating area just under the end of Al’s beige shorts. As if being shot out of a cannon, he quickly looked over at Ray and said, “I gotta go!”

Ray, trying to reassure his brother that all would be cool when the host arrived, responded with “Okay, okay.”

Apparently Al was not sure that Ray heard him, so he repeated himself, only this time a bit louder, “No you don’t understand, I need to go and I need to go, right now!”

With that Al stands up and tells Ray “Look, I can catch a cab and you can stay, but I gotta go.”

Ray, sensing the urgency of the situation and the sheer panic in his brother’s voice, extracts himself from Jana’s body press and gets up off the couch to say to his brother. “Clear, let’s go, it’s no big deal.” With that, Ray turns to his fellow colleagues and apologizes that he and Al must go now, please continue with your evening, enjoy yourselves and he would see them tomorrow at work.

If there were a world record for sitting comfortably beside a companion one minute and actually crossing a 30ft room and out the door the next, then Al would have shattered that sucker. Jana and I were almost sucked out of the room by the vacuum created by the two brothers’ exit. Poor Ray didn’t even get to finish his beer. Side-note: One of his work colleagues told Jana and I later that this was paramount to a mortal sin, punishable by spending time with his wife while she got a pedicure and manicure. Ray did not strike me as a pedicure kind of guy, so this truly must have been a devastating moment for him.

What happened next is only hearsay from a brief encounter with one of Ray’s colleagues about 2 weeks later. Story has it that when Ray and Al got back to Ray’s place, Ray’s wife, Lynn, took one look at Al and said, “Are you okay?” It seems that Lynn has seen this look before on Ray, and can always tell when something’s not right.

Anyway, the first words out of Al’s mouth were “where’s the #@$^ing Vodka, I need a drink and I need it now!” After quickly downing a vodka on the rocks, lots of olives, with a splash of ice, Al spilled his guts. It was only after 3-4 of these babies did the blood begin to flow back into Al’s face. In the end, Al made it safely home to his lovely wife with a whole slew of stories to tell his golfing buddies.

The moral of this story is as follows: If anyone comes to Singapore and is asked to go to a Karaoke Bar for a few drinks and some laughs, please call Al before you say yes. This quick phone call (1-800-dorfwad) will save you from being traumatized by the subtle differences between a Singapore karaoke bar and an Illinois karaoke bar….and will allow Jana and me to make a living.

My name is Happy, and my friend’s name is Jana. Next time one of you boys comes to town, call us -- we'll show you a fun time at a real karaoke bar!


Roy said...

Yeah those Illinois karaoke bars are weird alright. Not like a Kansas karaoke bar.

Karaoke is a kind of shellfish, right?

Geeky Tai-Tai said...

Roy... Yeah, I think it's kind of like a crab, you know, with pincers and all? Gotta be careful with 'em!

Don said...

This was awesome. Who wrote it? I never blogged about Shanghai karaoke because, well, I never went. That wasn't for lack of effort on the part of several lovely ladies out on the street. But even an unsuccessful bid would be an unacceptable story to my wife, so I just forget it.

Geeky Tai-Tai said...

Thanks, Don, I thought it was awesome too. I've been trying to get this Way-Hot Writer to start a blog for creative writing, but so far I've been unsuccessful. I can tell you that it is a very true story, and I still laugh every time I think about it. :D

Whitenoise said...

interesting story