On Saturday night, I went to a karaoke party for perhaps the first time ever. I should explain: Karaoke terrifies me.

Karaoke terrifies me because I believe I have absolutely the wrong disposition for this activity. While perusing the book of songs to halfheartedly see if perhaps I would be willing to sing one in public, this is what I came up with: (1) Carole King, “So Far Away.” (2) Jewel, “You Were Meant For Me.” End list.

See? These songs are nobody’s idea of a good time. And a good time, I believe, is what karaoke is actually about. Why sing a winsome love song by a 90s female singer-songwriter when you have access to the entire catalog of Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, and that guy who sings “Never Gonna Give You Up?” For me to perform karaoke would be to out myself as the kind of performer who wants to sing about her feelings and expects your full attention while she does it. I believe that’s what is referred to as a party foul.

But as a silent observer of other people singing karaoke, I can indulge my feelings as much as I want. And those feelings tell me that these human beings are adorable, vulnerable, and possess a kind of un-selfconsciousness that I envy. The courage and fortitude that allows a charming political philosopher from Venezuela to repeatedly sing the line “I want sex and candy” in front of several of his colleagues and two dozen strangers will always elude me. And it will always warm my heart.

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