Sweet Caroline

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.