The bar was called Gabe's, on the corner of National and Sepulveda. It's not too far from my house. Unless you take the wrong exit (National, not Overland) and end up on the boulevard version of LA's biggest joke. National is ridiculous. Most streets, you just drive straight. National has to be a jackass and make you turn right or left, just to stay on the same street. Confused? Exactly. Long story short, I drove around for 45 minutes/12 miles, and burst out laughing when I ran out of gas. And filled the tank at my normal gas station, two blocks from my apartment. Yup. After all that driving, I ended up right back where I started. Round two, I got off on the right exit (I swear, one of these days I will learn how to navigate this beast of a town), and got to the bar in about 10 minutes.
Gabe's doesn't look like much from the outside. It doesn't look like much from the inside (other than the sweet Halloween decorations). But it might be my new favorite place in the world. My signature cocktail, a vodka tonic, was only $4.50, insanely cheap, so if nothing else, I'll be returning. And parking was free and abundant. Heaven on Sepulveda. I swear, I finally found my people. For one thing, it was so nice to finally bond with some of the girls from my a cappella singing group. We meet once a week, but don't really know each other. Which was such a shame because we are a whole mess of awesome. The party got started with a stellar white girl rendition of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, involving the entire bar, which established a running theme of rappers who have no business rapping.
After our first round of drinks, we were approached by an older gentleman named Ray, who looked like he walked off of the set of the Sopranos. In my mind, I kept calling him Sally Tomato. Ray was quite the charmer and bought drinks for all of us, but only if we promised to sing for him. We agreed privately that if he had been 20 years younger, this gesture might have been creepy and unwelcome, but coming from Sally Tomato, it was just adorable. (Even cuter was Ray's impression of Sonny Bono with "I Got You Babe") Plus, free drinks! One of my friends brought down the house with "Total Eclipse of the Heart," inserting the word 'fucking' wherever possible, thereby making an amazing song priceless. Another carried out the grand tradition of bar singalongs with Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" (pretty much the greatest song ever.)
As for my karaoke debut, I selected one of my favorite Elvis songs, "Burning Love." I was 2 1/2 drinks in by this point and feeling good. I was a bit warm so I put my hair up with a bobby pin. That pin started to come loose in the middle of the song, so I went with it and shook my hair out, porno-secretary style. The crowd just ate it up. And I OWNED that effing song. The very definition of 'working the room.' I can't say that I sang particularly well, but if you shimmy enough, no one really cares. Later that night, after I'd pretty much sobered up, I went for an encore of Kansas's "Carry on my wayward son" (which I want played at my funeral, by the way). Kickass rocking out song, not so good for karaoke it turns out. It's a long song, but very few lyrics. Most of the time I just busted out some sweet air guitar solos.
Later that evening, it came out that it was my birthday the next day. Random people started hugging me and wishing me happy birthday, which was really sweet (even though I normally shun all human contact if I can possibly help it). Then one of my new friends, Tony, brought out the Birthday Blowjob shots. If you're not familiar with the tradition, you have to down a shot of Baileys (?) with whipped cream, without using your hands. I literally have a small mouth, so this was an anatomical impossibility. I spilled the whole thing all over the table. So Tony, a fabulous gay boy obsessed with my boobs and incredulous that I live in South Central, offered to show me how it was done. I got schooled, basically.
The night was winding down when two gentlemen started owning the microphones with their version of Usher's "You Got it Bad." Phenomenal. Better than Usher himself, I'd dare say. One of them even came up to me in the middle of the song, asked my name, and serenaded me. Score! They offered to buy us drinks afterwards, but by that point we were all drinking water (damn LA and their lack of public transportation. Though I guess it's good that it prevents us from drinking to excess). We did the obligatory girl talk, while Air Force One played on the TVs in the background. We kept quoting Harrison Ford's legendary "GET OFF MY PLANE!"
So even though it got off to a rocky start, I couldn't have asked for a better birthday eve. I'm determined that 23 will kick 22's ass. It won't be hard, seeing as 22 was one of the hardest years of my life. Maybe your birthday is like New Year's. However you spend it, determines the course of the following year. And October 16, 2009, while not without its charms, definitely pales in comparison to 2010.
I woke up this morning, opened up my giant package (tee hee), and discovered not the Roku I was expecting, but a friggin' Wii!!! I'm not a big video game person, but Wiis are awesome. I should get paid for such product placement. Anyway, tonight is the Cheesecake Factory with some of my dear friends, and tomorrow I'm going to see the Social Network with my Eric. So Happy Birthday Weekend Trifecta to me!! (And thanks for all the well wishes so far :D )