Friday, April 09, 2004
I would classify the ad agency I work for as a "small company". It's not a tiny little place, but it's small enough that you will eventually get to know everyone in the building on a first name basis, including the 'higher-ups'. It's small enough that you get to know the owner of the company well enough that, in my case, he'll come downstairs, sit at your desk and talk hockey with you every now and then. While this is a pretty cool situation, it's not without it's own unique pitfalls. Last year, I experienced one such pitfall firsthand. It involved me being coerced into singing the theme song to "the Jeffersons" live at a Monday morning meeting.
Now, I'll admit, I love to have fun and 'sing' at karaoke, I've been going to karaoke bars since I was 19 (yes, before I was legally allowed to be in a bar). My strategy was always "don't shave, order diet coke and appetizers and hope nobody asks for ID." If identification IS requested, point to your sweat pants and say "I don't have pockets." If they kick you out, go back the next week and act like it never happened. It's fun! Everyone should try it...Eventually I "grew up" and didn't have to worry about the age thing, but I still love to sing. The only difference is, now, I don't HAVE to do it sober if I don't want to.
We've had karaoke at a couple of company Christmas parties and I've been right up front, making more of a fool out of myself than normal. Apparently, it's this lack of inhibition which I displayed that planted a wee thought somewhere in the back of our owner's mind. The day that he finally decided to capitalize on this idea came sometime last summer on a Friday afternoon. I was at my desk, it's possible that I was working, I can't remember. The owner came downstairs and approached my desk with a piece of paper in his hand. He walked right up, handed me the paper and said "learn this for Monday morning, it's to be sung to theme from "the Jeffersons." You'll be singing it at the meeting. You have a boombox, right?"
A boombox? what the...
I was dumbfounded. I looked at the paper and, no shit, there it was. A neatly arranged parody song about the CEO of the company changing offices and moving upstairs. The owner of the company had apparently JUST WROTE IT and was real eager to get it implanted in my brain...In honor of the CEO's office change, he was going to buy pie and, as he put it, "we'll all get a piece of the pie..." (sung like the end of 'the Jeffersons' song...you know how it goes...) I looked up and kind of stammered "huh? a boombox?"
"Yeah, a boombox...you can have the music playing and sing along with it" he told me. "I don't have a boombox" I told him. "I could take this to the radio station this weekend, record and produce it and then I could lip sync to it" I offered. This, apparently, was not good enough, I was told by the owner that he was "really expecting a live performance." After issuing this directive, he disappeared. I was left holding the lyric sheet feeling kind of like I had just been totally and completely 'bushwacked.' Scott was pointing and laughing at me. I would've pointed and laughed, but...Dammit. I had to sing about "movin' on up to the upstairs" on Monday...
There was much work to be done...
Ironically, the first thing I had to do was re-write the lyrics. The owner, while well intentioned, had gotten a few things out of order. I fired up the actual song (which I keep handy at all times. Don't you?) and compared lyrics as I re-wrote until I had it tightened it up to my liking. I then gave it a run through or two in my head. I was satisfied that it would fit, but I now had to set about finding the karaoke version of "Movin' on up" to sing along with. I knew it existed (I'd seen it before) and thought I may just be able to download the audio. That would suffice, seeing as I wouldn't have a monitor to read from anyway...It turned out that it wasn't terribly easy to find this through my normal download channels, so I set about trying to find someone here in town that would sell me the music. I tried a few karaoke places and finally found one that had ONE UNIT IN STOCK. I was told that "I'd better hurry, because it's not only on a popular disc, but it's set to be discontinued."
Instantly fearful that I'd have to sing acapella on Monday, I drove like a bat out of Hell to Rolling Rhythm Karaoke and picked up the disc. (A side note, I found out that the store is now owned by Rudy, who was a security guard at the Gazette while I worked there. He gave me a discount since he knew me. That was pretty cool). I took the disc home, set up the pieces of my equipment that I'd have to bring on Monday morning to sing this damn thing and I practiced. I practiced like I was going to be a contestant on American Idol. I practiced as if my life depended on it. I practiced until I could sing the stupid song without looking at the lyric sheet.
I was like, SOOOOO ready...
Monday morning came. I dressed in black slacks, black wingtips and a shiny blue and black shirt which has flames up the front. I also made sure I had my sunglasses. When I got to work that morning, I lugged my equipment upstairs. After surveying the layout of the room where the meeting was to be held, I decided that the only place I could 'emerge' from to perform would be the owner's office, which is located at the back end of the larger 'lunchroom.' Hell, the least he could offer me would be the use of his office space...
This was HIS idea, after all...
I set up my speakers as inconspicously as I could, ran the cables, checked the equipment one last time, performed a sound and level check and then waited. When the owner showed up, he was simply thrilled to see that I was all set up and ready to sing. After answering the requisite "is this all yours" questions about my audio equipment and going over the cue for me to burst out of the door, I took a seat and ran through the song a few times in my head. The owner closed the door and went to prepare for the meeting. Only a few people knew what was going to happen that morning. The CEO herself was clueless, she never would have allowed it to happen if she had known. Partly, that's why I WANTED to do it, just to see her with an embarrassed, pissed off look on her face.
Shut up, I know I'm evil. We've covered that.
At our predetermined cue point during the meeting, the owner threw open the door to his office. I burst out and sang my...well, his little song to the best of my extremely caucasian ability. The CEO was sufficiently flustered, the rest of the attendees seemed sufficiently entertained and I was...well...happy. I had come through. I had taken on a task that seemed monumental and whittled it down until it was extremely doable. I sang a song that I didn't have any reason to think I could sing. I also had fun, which is a bonus.
Also, I got pie. I Iike me some pie.
Since then, the owner hasn't requested me to do any more parody songs at meetings, but he did request for me to sing first at our most recent company Christmas party while, unbeknownst to him, I was absolutely filled to the brim with booze. Luckily, I didn't trip and fall or throw up. I sang. I doubt I sang well, but I sang.
And, I had fun. Again.