I can’t say I did it because of the two margaritas in me, because I decided even before we arrived at the karaoke bar that I was going to sing. Of course, this was all before the tiny Caffe Brass Monkey filled up and both good and bad singers took their shot at old standards and new pop hits.
I picked out an easy song, Selena’s “Como la flor” from small selection of Spanish-language songs over Linda Ronstadt’s version of “Y Andale.” My friends P and J — there for a mutual friend’s birthday celebration — were surprised I’d sing in front of other people. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I’ve been doing it since I was six years old.
“This is nothing. No one here even knows me, so it doesn’t matter if I make a fool of myself,” I explained to J. “Plus, they’re all drinking.”
He shook his head. “No, it still matters.”
In the middle of my second margarita, the birthday girl got up to sing.
“Hey, you put your song before her, didn’t you?” J asked.
His wife, P suggested I ask when I’d have my turn. It was taking a while, even for a busy Friday night.
I checked with DJ.
“What’s your name?”
“Oh, you’re up in two songs.”
Okay, now I was nervous. Despite the fact that the Brass Monkey crowd was very mixed and reflective of LA, nobody had sang a song in Spanish. I feared that my song would be a dud and that no one would clap or sing along except for my group of friends in the corner.
In a few minutes, both singers were done and the DJ called out my name. He drew out the “lu” as I made my way through some tall guys.
J got his camera and came closer.
Oh no. Pictures.
I grabbed the mic and waited for the familiar cumbia beat to start. As the music began playing, I danced a little. And folks got up! Before I even sang the first line, “Yo sé que tienes un nuevo amor,” the area in front of me (there’s no stage at Brass Monkey) was filled with Latinos and non-Latinos alike. They were dancing. Some gave me the typical head nod, acknowledging that they liked my song choice.
I danced and sang to the remainder of the song.
When I was done, I rushed back to our tables. The birthday girl, J and P all complimented me.
P, my former mentor, gave me the best compliment, “you have mega ovaries, girlie!”