We’re lucky to have a visitor here today at Glitter, Bliss, and Perfect Chaos!! Please welcome David N. Walker!!! Also, please click over to David’s blog, where I’m guest posting today about Enjoying Life’s Journeys!
David N. Walker is a Christian father, grandfather and a grounded pilot. He cofounded Warrior Writers Boot Camp with Kristen Lamb. You can read more of his posts at http://davwalk.wordpress.com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.
Three years ago, my wife and I took a 15-day Hawaii cruise right before Christmas. We had been on Holland America’s Zaandam once before and loved the size of the ship and the service offered by this company.
One of the entertainment features they offered was karaoke each night in the Crow’s Nest lounge. A closet singer, I decided to “come out” and try it. I hadn’t performed in public since my boyhood days in the Texas Boys Choir (actually in its predecessor, the Denton Civic Boy Choir) some 55 years earlier, and I’d never tried to sing with a karaoke machine, so I was a bit unsure about it all.
I sang two or three nights, finding several Country & Western songs I like, along with an Elvis or two. One evening the lead singer for their main entertainment group attended and gave me a couple of complimentary remarks, so when they announced a karaoke contest I decided to try it. Prelims would be held in the Crow’s Nest where I had become accustomed to singing. The finals would be held on the stage of the main ship auditorium on the final afternoon of our cruise.
For the preliminary competition, I sang Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces.” I made sure to make eye contact with various people, directing my singing to one after another, and I felt good about how I’d done. The judges gave me encouraging critiques, especially a lady who sang professionally in the Crow’s Nest. The one pan I got was from the cruise director, who complained that I sang to everyone in the place except her.
As I listened to the remaining competitors, I wondered how serious this lady was in criticizing me about not directing attention to her. After all, I’d gone out of my way during the cruise to befriend her.
Guess it was okay. They called four finalists back into the spotlight, and I was one of them. I was going to get to compete on the main stage in front of several hundred people.
The morning of the finals, I awoke with a cough I couldn’t get rid of. I didn’t have any cough drops or Nyquil or anything like that, and I coughed my head off all day long. To complicate things, I knew the other three would be dressed to the nines, and all I had with me were dress jeans, golf shirts and tennis shoes—my normal uniform.
When we got there I noticed in between coughs that both women wore lovely pantsuits and the other guy had on a suit and tie. They all looked great. The other guy had the best voice of the three, but the young woman looked like a movie star who had been poured into her pantsuit.
As I watched the three of them, the first of several bits of good fortune hit me. They had instructed each of us to select one fast song and one slow one, and we had no choice in which one we would sing. They told me I’d be singing my slow one, which I do much better than fast ones.
The second favorable break occurred when they selected the other guy to sing first. He was so nervous he left the microphone in its stand, which resulted in a very stilted and mechanical performance. He sang well, but he didn’t impress the audience all that much.
The third break was being put on last. I watched both ladies put on solid performances—particularly the young beauty—but at least I had the last shot. I’d be the last one and the freshest in the audience’s and judges’ minds.
As I took the stage, my fourth break occurred as my cough temporarily went away. I felt good about my chances now that I wasn’t coughing—except for appearance. I was well aware that I wasn’t dressed nearly as nicely as the others, but as the MC interviewed me an idea began to grow in my mind. Remembering the old saying that old age and trickery beats youth and enthusiasm every time, I took the microphone from him and addressed the audience:
How would you like to find yourselves 1500 miles away from home with nothing to wear except this (pointing to my golf shirt, jeans and tennis shoes) and have to compete with three such beautiful and well-dressed people (pointing to my competitors) half your age?
I think my little soliloquy got both judges and the audience on my side. Both the cruise director and the singer were judges again. I figured the singer would rate me well, and I decided to focus on the cruise director. One of the other judges was a Hawaiian native who gave lectures on their culture, and I don’t remember who the fourth one was.
As the machine played the intro to Ray Price’s “For the Good Times,” my confidence grew. I began to sing, facing different parts of the audience and holding my free hand out toward them as I sang. When I came to the words, “Lay your head upon my shoulder . . .” I walked toward the cruise director and held my hand out to her. She almost melted in her chair.
When I went back to center stage and she ran out and put her head on my shoulder, I figured I’d won. At least I’d won her.
Each judge gave each of us a brief critique when we finished singing. The first three were very complimentary, but it was the Hawaiian who really made me feel good. He had told one of the ladies not to give up her day job. In contrast, he told me I should give up my day job and do this professionally. Wow.
I’d barely taken my seat when they called me back onto the stage as the winner. Okay, it wasn’t “American Idol,” but it still felt really good. People came up to me the rest of the day to compliment me and tell me how much they’d enjoyed it.
A little more about David:
A graduate of Duke University, I spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of my career was spent in Texas, but for a few years I traveled many other states. I started writing about 20 years ago, and have six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since my retirement from insurance a few years ago, I have devoted my time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel myself.