Turning 30, Chapter 12

Cera, Will, Ashlynn, and Feliz sat a table for six in a busy karaoke bar. They sat in the back area, which could not quite call it a balcony because it was low enough to the ground, but it was a little more elevated than the rest of the bar. The bar had a fairly large stage with colorful lights, and the DJ sat on the side of the stage. The crowd was very diverse in terms of age, race, and social status. Cera, Will, and Ashlynn were not paying attention to any of it because Feliz was upset.

Cera asked incredulously, “You slept with her? Why would you do that?”

Feliz replied, “I still want to be a good husband until I tell her. I will tell her, but I panic every time I think about it.”

“Is there ever a right time?” Ashlynn pondered. “I mean, life decisions are never really easy to make, and it’s not like the heavens will move and deliver a clear message of when it’s time. The longer you wait, the harder it’ll be. At some point, you have to choose your own happiness above any expectations. Stop suffering like this, bite the bullet, and just do the thing you’re afraid of!”

Feliz considered her words but did not look sold yet. “It’s going to break her heart. And my family’s. I’m not ready to make that kind of impact yet.”

“Dude,” Will offered, “next time she’s in the mood, turn off the lights and let me do her. As your friend, it’s the least I can do.”

Feliz replied sarcastically, “What a noble sacrifice!”

Cera joked, “Don’t go acting like a sad sap. We already have that position filled by Tadd!”

“So, until Tadd is cured, we can’t have any emotional problems?” Feliz probed.

“No!” Cera, Ashlynn, and Will answered in unison. The four of them laughed.

At that moment, Lavena found their table. She guided Tadd there by linking arms. She sat Tadd down and looked at the stage in disgust. A young man was singing a Justin Bieber ballad. Lavena commented, “How are we supposed to cheer him up with this crappy music? What’s the name of the chick that originally sang this song?”

Cera told her, “Justin Bieber.”

Lavena blushed a little. “Oh! I was thinking it was the Hannah Montana girl.”

Will remarked, “This is what pop music has come down to? Our generation idolized pure talent. What is this? When did it at all change? Like, when did our baggy jeans get replaced with skinny jeans? Now suddenly it’s considered macho to wear make up and rock the man bun. What happened to pop culture? Actually, guys, when did we become uncool?”

The song ended, and the crowd politely applauded for the young man, who took a bow and left the stage. A karaoke host came onto the stage and spoke into the microphone, “Alright, thank you Skylar! Up next, we have a very special performance from a hip young cat, Jerry!”

As the karaoke host stepped offstage, Jerry stepped out. Jerry dressed very young but was clearly in his thirties. He took the microphone and before the music started, he announced, “This song is dedicated to that very lovely ginger in the back.” Jerry pointed to the back, and a spotlight shined on Lavena. Lavena cringed while Ashlynn, Cera, Feliz, and Will looked amused. Tadd definitely looked out of place with his stoic face. The music for “The Mammal Song” came on, and that just heightened everyone’s feelings.

Jerry was very into his performance as he sang:

“Ha ha, well now we call this the art of mating,
but there are some very important differences
between human beings and animals that you should know about.”

Lavena looked embarrassed, but Ashlynn, Feliz, Cera, and Will stopped paying attention to her because they were festively dancing and singing along.

Jerry continued singing,

“I’d appreciate your input.
Sweat baby sweat baby, sex is a Texas drought.
Me and you do the stuff that only Prince would sing about.
So put your hands down my pants and I bet you’ll feel nuts.
Yes I’m Siskel, yes I’m Ebert, and you’re getting two thumbs up.
You’ve had enough of the two hand touch, you want it rough.
You’re out of bounds.
I want you smothered, I want you covered like my Waffle House hash browns.
Come quicker than FedEx, never reach apex, just like Coca-Cola stock.
You are inclined to make me rise an hour early just like Daylight Savings Time.

Do it now.
You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals,
So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.
Do it again now.
You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals,
so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.
Get horny now!”

The music abruptly stops. Ashlynn, Cera, Feliz, and Will were in mid-dance and look disappointed. Lavena, who was thoroughly irritated by this dedication to her, dryly snapped, “Act your age!”

Will responded with a question, “How exactly do we do that?” Lavena tried to spea, thought about it, and silently agreed that he had a point.

The karaoke host got on stage and took the microphone from Jerry. “Okay, when we agreed to dedicate a song to someone, we didn’t know that it’d turn into sexual harassment. Mike, you said it was a romantic song!” He glared at the DJ, who just shrugged. “Sorry, ma’am. Management says that a round of drinks is due at your table with our deepest apology.” Ashlynn, Cera, Will, and Feliz cheer at that. When the host tried to kick Jerry off the stage, Jerry does the “call me” sign to Lavena, who responded by staring daggers at him. He pointed to Ashlynn and silently asked if he could call her. Ashlynn laughed and shook her head. Cera looked hopeful, but the karaoke host literally shoved him off the stage. He collected himself. “Next up, we have…Tadd!”

Lavena, Cera, Ashlynn, Will, and Feliz all stared at Tadd in shock. Tadd unenthusiastically picked himself up and walked to the stage. Tadd had a despondent demeanor as he took the microphone. He sadly told the crowd, “This is dedicated to Brie, wherever you are…” The music for “I Drive Myself Crazy” by N’Sync played, and the other five exchange looks of concern and confusion.

Tadd sang,

“Lying in your arms, so close together,
didn’t know just what I had.
Now I toss and turn ’cause I’m without you,
how I’m missing you so bad.

Where was my head, where was my heart?
Now I cry alone in the dark!

I lie awake, I drive myself crazy,
drive myself crazy thinking of you.
Made a mistake when I let you go, baby.
I drive myself crazy wanting you the way I do.”

Tadd started to bawl. Will, Feliz, Lavena, and Cera shake their heads in disappointment. Ashlynn looked on edge. She could tell what was coming, and she got up and started to head towards the stage. The other four looked at her questioningly. The crowd was encouraging him to continue.

“Come on Tadd!”

“You can do it!”

The crowd clapped and cheered sympathetically. Someone whistled, and Ashlynn turned to her friends to silently say that was why she was heading to the stage. The other four headed down to help her. Tadd’s tantrum was a little softer than it had been in the past, but the audience did not know that. The y stared at him in confusion and little disgust. Ashlynn reached the stage first, and she stooped to pick up his arm and hoist him up. The karaoke host gave her a blank stare, and smiled awkwardly. “How about we rain check those drinks?”

She giggled nervously. Lavena, Cera, Feliz, and Will got onstage to help her. As they led the flailing Tadd off the stage, Lavena spoke to the crowd, “He’s making progress, I swear!”

The audience did not respond. As they exited, Jerry got back on stage and commented, “Man, I can’t believe she’s going home with that guy!”The karaoke host shook his head, and they prepared to continue as if nothing had happened.



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