Karaoke with some liquid courage? Great.
Karaoke while soberly working at a college dive bar? Not so great.
Neil Diamond’s, “Sweet Caroline” became my weekly earworm while working Thursday karaoke nights.
I can still hear the amateur singers bellowing:
“Bam, bam, bam!!!”
“So good, so good, so good!”
The appeal transcended every type of customer as their anthem: the American Idol wannabes, the frat boys, the bachelorette parties, the wizened barflys.
The tune takes me right back to very specific sights, sounds and smells:
Sticky sweet Jager shots and spicy hot wings.
Cleaning up strangers’ barf.
Navigating shot trays through a smoky bar patio.
Watching a 7-ft inebriated man fall like timber on a concrete barroom floor.
Witnessing kitchen staff use 5-second rule burger buns.
Shitty tips from dollar-you-call-it customers.
Sure, it was all very character-building. But in the moment, Caroline wasn’t sweet. She was a real bitch.