I feel pretty fortunate, as a single mother, to have loads of “me” time. My exhusband, for all the things I loathe about him, is a good dad. He’s involved, he always pays his child support and, in general, he’s flexible. He loves our son which, really… that’s all I could really hope for. I tell people all the time that he was a terrible husband, but has always been a good dad.
The kidlet goes to his dad’s every other weekend and we alternate annually for big holidays. All the long weekends and big holidays are mine on even-numbered years and are his on odd-numbered years. It’s a little non-traditional in terms of what most parents do when it comes to visitation agreements, but it works out GREAT. It means that, every other year, I get to alternately spend extra time with the kid OR I get lots of kid-free time to go do some traveling.
A few years ago, I went on a trip. I used to moderate a single mom’s message board a hundred years ago, a spin-off from an atypical community of moms. We all decided that we wanted to meet up and so we planned a long, kid-free, single moms weekend in Chicago. Up until this point, I hadn’t done TOO much traveling, so the idea of dropping all my responsibilities to fly off to Chi-town and drink and dance and be silly with some of my best internet girlfriends was really fucking exciting.
Around this same time, I discovered Samwell. If you’re not familiar with Samwell, well… Then I guess you’re a loser. Well, Samwell lives in Chicago and (this was back when everybody still had a Myspace) and he didn’t have any gigs planned for the weekend that we were going to be in town. As an enterprising go-getter, I emailed him and begged him to put on a show so that a bunch of stressed out single mothers could get their freak on at a gay bar and have a hell of a time. He WROTE ME BACK which made the internet feel tiny and accessible and told me he’d see what he could do.
Of course, he made it happen! I was thrilled! A Friday night show at a gay bar in Chicago with Samwell and he was expecting us! Does it get any better?!
I packed my shit and headed to Chicago, ready to let my hair down and traipse around downtown Chicago (or where ever the hell it is that people traipse in Chicago) and bar hop and flirt with hot men that say “duh” instead of “the”.
The plan was for us to all fly to Chicago and stay with one of the girls. Since we were all paying for flights, she was supposed to feed us and buy us alcohol for drinking at home. When I landed in Chicago, I was all antsy and excited… I saw her minivan pull up (hilarious, I know… a bunch of moms whoo-hooing out of the windows of a minivan), I’m pretty sure I squealed like one of those annoying sorority girls. But we got in the van and drove… and drove… and drove. I mean, we went far… All the way out to the outer ‘burbs, a solid forty five minutes AWAY from Chicago.
“It’s alright. So we’ll just have to pick designated drivers and have a little back and forth,” I told myself.
Well… Not exactly. Somehow, instead of at a Samwell show, I found myself at TGIFriday’s… on that Friday night… in the suburbs… And it was MY turn to be the designated driver. Oh, and? We were sitting at the bar and it was karaoke night.[insert twitching face of me here]
It’s alright… We’ll muscle through this, Jami. It’s fine. But then everybody is drunk and all leaning into me when they talk to me. They’re flirting with the bartender and I’m looking at him and he’s looking at me like, “Yep. We’re both fucking sober jackasses.” I’m all resting my chin on my balled up fist, dreaming of sparkly muscle-y men in jock straps and angel wings, thumping and dancing and serving me drinks while What-What, In The Butt blasts over the speakers in a dark and fabulously gay bar.
So all these super drunk gal pals of mine are pressing me to go sing… I’m a good singer. There was that one summer where I sang with the church band at church camp all summer. I can rock the shit out of Six Pence None The Richer’s Kiss Me. It’s not that I mind singing… It’s that I hate karaoke. I loathe it… The whole point of it is to go up and make a fool of yourself, put on a show, make people laugh and cheer and be happy with their burpy drunk asses. Right. I get it. But I’m sober, remember? And in my mind, I’m like, “I’m a good singer… So pick a song that fits your voice.” Stupid, right? This is why karaoke is only a drunk activity.
I’m leafing through the sticky pages in the DJ’s book, considering Love Shack but really feel like it would be better to do that one as a duet with a man… I’m looking around this TGIFriday’s, on a Friday night in the ‘burbs of Chicago. Death stare. I’m not even turning my head, just cutting my eyes back and forth, fully disgusted with the white sneakers and blue jeans and polo shirts. Where I come from, Friday nights are for heels and earrings and eyeliner, not sneakers and jeans.
I realize I’m being a total stick-in-the-mud about the whole thing, so I’m finally just over it and I pick a song. I don’t even tell the girls what I’m doing, I just march proudly up to the DJ’s booth and submit my request. He puts me in the queue.
Then the sinking feeling comes. I’m sitting there, drinking something carbonated and virgin when I should be tossing back shots of courage and recklessness. It’s almost like the background noise in the bar is muffled in my head, like an under-water sort of feeling. And then I hear the DJ call my name.
Buh. Here goes nothing.
The bass line breaks in… I’m standing there with a microphone, all my drunk bitches whooping and hollering like regular hooligans. Then it starts, “Oh my God, Becky…”
To be fair, I nailed it… And about half way through, I really started to feel it, channeling my inner gay-man, throwing my hands up in the air and being all animated and silly. Of course, the entire bar erupted in cheers and applause and I was greeted by my gaggle of drunken broads with sloppy kisses on the face and unnecessarily hard hugs.
It was fine… Really, it was. Nevermind that at night, there were no beds for us to sleep in and I woke up every morning that weekend with my drool-crusted face sticking to her leather couch. We’ll forget that she didn’t buy groceries to fill her cupboards for us or booze. I won’t mention that she left us early on Saturday morning at her house while she went to her son’s karate tournament and didn’t mention it to us so we could, you know, like rent a car or something. I won’t talk about that Saturday night at another bar in the suburbs where the guy with Cerebral Palsy tried to hit on one of us and, when she turned down his generous offer for something freaky in the bathroom, he was a total dick to us.
All in all, it was a decent weekend… But I still crave pavement and windy alleys and deep dish pizza at 3am. I need to actually go to Chicago and SEE Chicago. Anna is going to go with me next summer. That’ll be a BLAST. Nothin’ but trouble.
And I can promise you one thing we will not be doing is karaoke. (Now Anna is going to MAKE SURE it happens just because I said that, great.)