This might sound coldhearted, but there are very few things in my life that I feel I should have — but have not — apologized for.
And even fewer things for which I feel I am owed an apology.
Since I don’t get offended easily, I project that trait onto others. I assume that, like me, people forgive and forget. And I can only hope that my friends and family find my faults adorable!
Still, a few instances stick with me.
Like The Halloween Mannequin Drop of 1979. I was 10, and hid on our flat-roofed garage and dropped terrifying mannequins near the trick-or-treaters. Some of those young children were probably affected for life, and I’ve considered somehow tracking down and apologizing to those now-adults, many of whom are likely in therapy or incarcerated.
And, The Halloween Mannequin Drops of 1980 and ‘81.
And, The Great Directions Argument of 1997, when Lindy got so mad at me that she literally stepped out of our slowly moving car in an unfamiliar city. I’m still waiting for her to apologize for that one.
And, The Post Bulletin Karaoke Christmas Party.
In 2006, The Post Bulletin company — which also owns Rochester Magazine—was holding its annual Christmas party and potluck brunch. Most everyone in the company was there. The retirees and their spouses sat at tables next to the stage.
A karaoke DJ was hired.
Business-based karaoke events, incidentally, are inevitably organized by the three or four excellent singers in the office. These people then force their way onto the party planning committee, where they vote as a bloc to hold a company karaoke party. The rest of us are fillers to make them look good.
I had recently gotten a new boss. That boss, Bob, stopped me before the event. “I want to karaoke.”
“Sounds good,” I said. “Sing your heart out.”
“No,” he said. “I mean we’re going to karaoke.”
I am not one to give in to peer pressure. I’ve never eaten an earthworm or drunk Tabasco sauce for money. If someone tells me that I have to watch a movie because I will love it, I usually hate it, mostly out of spite.
Even with my bosses, I have a long history of asking forgiveness instead of permission. Every one of them will attest to that.
Yet here I was, my boss standing with his hand on my shoulder, telling me we would soon be singing karaoke together.
While it wasn’t exactly like I was some naive teenage runaway stepping out of a bus station and accepting a ride from a middle-aged man driving a 1980 Camaro, it felt that way.
I was in my mid-30s. I had never sung karaoke. I didn’t want my first time to be with an older man I barely knew.
I said yes.
I figured we’d sing “Silent Night” or “Jingle Bells.” My boss, in his 60s, asked the DJ to “play one of those rap songs.”
The song the DJ chose was — and I’m not making this up — ”Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot. The “I Like Big Butts” song.
I was a karaoke virgin. Standing on a stage with my new boss.
I was sober. It was 11 o’clock in the morning.
And, it turns out, many of the lyrics in ”Baby Got Back” are, in fact, inappropriate euphemisms.
I don’t remember much about our performance. I remember I could not look the retirees in the eyes.
And I remember singing the following phrases from the teleprompter screen:
Actually, that’s one of the few phrases from the song that I can print here.
Also — and I didn’t realize it until I saw the the lyrics spelled out in front of me — the song features an entire section about Jane Fonda. Including the line “But Fonda ain’t got a motor in the back of her Honda.”
I’m still not sure what that means.
I’ll have to Google the actual run length, but the song lasted roughly 35 minutes. The crowd reaction was exactly like you would expect if 200 people had just watched two coworkers honor the birth of Jesus by singing euphemistically about Jane Fonda’s Honda.
Silence. And the occasional isolated clapping that just makes things worse.
When I got back home that night, I was afraid to tell my wife what happened.
I have waited 13 years to be able to publicly apologize. So, if you were there, I’m sorry.
If it’s any consolation, I have not karaoked since.