Monday, November 26, 2007

Karaoke, cowboy hats, and identity crises

This needs to be blogged about, and the only reason I waited a full two days to do it is because I was on a plane for most of one of those days, and had no internet access. Okay. So here goes.

I went out in San Francisco on the day after Thanksgiving with my dear friend John Y. and his lovely roommate Jon S. We had a delicious dinner at Kan Zeman, followed by some rather frightening (but impressive!) belly dancing by the mysterious Michelle, who was able to balance a sword on her head and spin around without the sword flying off and impaling us diners as we ate our falafel and dolmas. J, J and I speculated over whether Michelle had some sort of sword-supporting ridge in her skull, or whether she had installed a small "hijab krampon" into her head covering to hold that sword aloft. It remains a mystery.

After dinner, ice cream at Ben & Jerry's, and some mild harassment by a tambourine-wielding band of "homeless by choice" gatorade hippies on Haight St., we went to the Mint, a slightly gay karaoke bar. We were enjoying the performances (including a deeply non-ironic rendition of "My Heart Will Go On" by a preppy, chubby guy whose register fell somewhat short of Celine's) when we heard someone singing enthusiastically (and loudly) behind us. We turned around to see an Asian guy in a button-down shirt who had been on stage a few minutes earlier with a creepy, Matthew McConnaghey-esque white guy in a cowboy hat, singing Chattahoochie.

The exchange that followed went exactly like this, except every time the Asian guy talked he used the expletive "mo***r f***ing" every other word or so. So just add that part in your head:

Asian Guy: Where are y'all from?

Me: I'm from Michigan.

AG: I'm from Central Florida. You know what it's called down there? The Redneck Riviera. And let me tell you, I'm the biggest redneck in the world.

Me, John and Jon: *blank stares*

AG: And you know what the funny part is? Down there I'm the (*racial slur*) but up here, I'm the redneck.

Me: That's interesting.

AG: Yeah. Where are you from? (To John)

J: I'm from Texas.

AG: TEXAS! White power, bro.

And he held out his fist.

At this point, the three of us wondered if one of us should gently break the news to this dude that he is, in fact, not white. And, perhaps, that he's in the middle of a gay karaoke bar in San Francisco. Probably not a whole lot of klansmen in the crowd to back him up if things got ugly, you know what I mean? John handled it gracefully by sticking out his hand instead and saying something like, "HEY, handshake!"

After the Asian white power guy got dragged away by his cowboy-hatted friend, my friends and I sat there a bit stunned. Then I was forcefully reminded of the Dave Chappelle sketch about the blind Klansman, Clayton Bigsby. Offensive, be warned:

Man. The world is a weird place.

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