On my last night at T.J. Tucker’s, they stopped the karaoke music because I was swearing too much. But I’m not angry — Tuckers was stern but fair. Yes, they rejected my ID several times. Still, townies and Yalies were treated alike, and the bouncer smiled with avuncular affection when you snuck in through the back.
Tucker’s was a bar of contrasts. It was like a dinner from Gastronomique washed down with a forty (which is, actually, what I had before my last visit to Tucker’s). With a polished wood bar and tables, and carpets a mixture of red fabric and filth, its decor was at best confusing. It was a typical hotel-bar dive, but at the same time it had a spirit that struggled to be something more. But anyway, enough eulogizing. It’s time to tell you about how I almost got ass.
For me, the night the music died at Tucker’s was last semester, on the day of my last final. A couple of friends and I picked up dinner at Gastronomique, and to temper the pretension of the francofied name we bought forties of Olde English to drink with it. (Whoa, It’s like 1066 in my mouth!)
A note on 40s — they are not all created equal. OE High Gravity 800 is by far the worst and that is what we were stuck with that night. (Colt 45 is the best — my suite had a “Pepsi Challenge” a few weeks ago). OE HG800 tastes about like it sounds, like a brand of motor oil. But of course, neither motor oil nor OE is designed for taste. They are designed for performance. Karaoke/Driving Performance! Aww yeah.
So after we finished dinner we decided we’d polish off the 40’s. Actually, only my friend Zia and I decided to do that. Everyone else left, taking the one half-empty 40 that they were all sharing with them (y’all are poofs!). Me and Zia had a 40 each. We were in it for the long haul, and we were going to drink them the right way. The 80’s heavy metal red-neck way.
I put on my CAT Diesel Power hat and Zia started building the playlist: Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and also, um, Bryan Adams (Zia really likes “Summer of ’69”). We played it loud, attempting to sing along while taking rock star swigs from our 40s. Zia jumped onto a chair playing air guitar, and chugged some of her OE. I yelled the chorus to “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” pumped my fist in the air and then mumbled the words that weren’t part of the title of the song. We looked cool. I considered Hulk-Hoganing my t-shirt. A 54 year-old man entered the room.
It was my suitemate’s dad. He looked at my 40, and then at me. Zia stopped playing air guitar and turned the music down. Busted.
“Hello, Mr. Licht!” I said congenially. Why was he here?
“Ahem. Hello,” he said.
“Umm –” I said. Jeremy came into the common room, laden with suitcases, and sighed. Poor Jeremy, his suitemate was an idiot.
So Zia and I arrived at Tucker’s. A friend of mine was buying pitchers in one of the booths. After the OE HG800 his cheap draft beer tasted like friggin’ nectar and ambrosia. We gluttonously drank glass after glass. Then things started to get messy.
So messy, in fact, that after this point I have had to piece together what happened almost entirely through “Dude, you were messed UP last night!” conversations.
Fact: I sat down and started talking to a girl I knew near the dance floor.
She was sitting with a bunch of dudes, one of whom I don’t like too much. (My freshman year I was trying to talk to a girl at Toad’s — not even macking! She was a friend of mine! — and this guy, who is about twice my size, physically blocked me from talking to her. I felt like Garth in “Wayne’s World” without the electro-shock thingies. Although it has been two years, I have never forgiven him. The guy sucks.) I remember greeting all of them cordially, and continuing the conversation with my female friend.
This, apparently, is not what happened. Evidently I sat down, said hi to my friend and then greeted the gorilla across the table with “‘sup, muthaf***a?” and spent the next 10 minutes staring at him and repeating the word “muthaf***a” while my friend tried to explain to him that it was a term of endearment and that he shouldn’t kick my ass. Well, whatever, he couldn’t have done too much. Oh and if you’re reading this, you big monkey, bring it! I started lifting last week, biotch!
I left this table and returned to the safety of my booth. Zia had left Tucker’s on her own drunken adventure, leaving me with a group of people I hardly knew, with the exception of Sameer, my physics dawg (we work on problem sets together).
Sitting with all these random people, I was starting to get bored. Karaoke, I decided, was the answer. I bullied one of the guys in the booth to come up to the mic with me. We sorted through the binders, sifting through terrible song after terrible song. I was sick of 80’s redneck metal. I wanted something more “fresh.” Then I found it. Hip Hop Hooray.
We filled out the slip and waited for our moment. When it came I rushed up and grabbed the mic, trying to pull my pants down ’93 style to make it more of a period piece. Let me first say that the other guy was horrible. All he did was yell “H-eeeey, H-ooooo, H-eeeey” over and over again, which has its place — but please. Meanwhile, I was courageously trying to get the verses out. Usually the karaoke machine highlights one word at a time, and following the lyrics is fairly easy. Not so with Naughty By Nature. Whole blocks of text flashed at me, and it was all I could do just to read as fast as possible. About two verses into it, I had had enough. I would freestyle.
“I’ma kick a freestyle then!” I shouted into the mic.
And so, I freestyled.
I thought I was pretty good. I was witty, and I was jumping up and down a lot. But after a while the drunk townies at the first table starting to look around awkwardly.
As it turns out, I wasn’t very witty. In fact, all I could think to rhyme were curse words.
“I don’t give a f**k / I’m just chillin’ here at T.J. Tuck / –.ers.”
I thought it was pretty clever. But suddenly the beat fell out from under me, and the mic was no longer working. I looked around. The people in the bar all looked like they felt sorry for me. The tall man running the machine asked for his microphone back, and I went to sit down. I submitted more Karaoke requests — Bob Marley’s “Jammin’,” even “Pour Some Sugar on Me” — but they fell on deaf ears. With that I bid farewell to Tucker’s. It was time to stumble home.
Burt Helm is naughty by nature, not ’cause he hates ya.