Author’s Note: This story was in answer to a writer group prompt to write a story about the wrong lyrics in a song. We all sing in the car. Sometimes we don’t know the real words. It happens.
Karaoke night was a favorite for Meg and her coworkers. Their watering hole of choice was a pizza pub near their office. Every Thursday night after work, they let their hair down and had a good time.
Most of them were fair singers, some good, but they all sang, so they played a high-stakes game they called karaoke roulette. Instead of selecting their own songs to sing, the singer would spin an empty beer bottle on the table and whoever it pointed to choose the song for that person. No complaints, no substitutions.
Being a friendly and malevolent group, everyone wanted each other to succeed, so no one committed malicious sabotage, but fun was never off the table.
There was the time Sandy made Matt sing I am Woman or when Meg and Carrie conspired to bet Jack that he wouldn’t sing Girls Just Want to Have Fun. They both killed it.
And the boys got in the act too, selecting a Summer Nights duet for Meg and Carrie. They even got into the spirit by holding hands, singing into each other’s eyes and pretending to be in love. When they were done, the place erupted with applause. It’s all in good fun.
One night, a newbie at work named Brett joined their group for the first time. He wanted play their game of chance, but Meg urged him to select his first song himself.
“Look, we’ve been doing this for a while, so don’t feel obligated to play our silly roulette game,” she said.
“No way. I’m part of the group now. I’ll play,” Brett insisted.
Meg, Carrie and the others looked at each other, shrugging their shoulders. They’d never heard him sing and had no idea what to select for him.
When it was Brett’s turn, he spun the bottle. The others watched as time passed in slow motion, each wishing and hoping the bottleneck didn’t point to them.
It stopped and pointed to Meg. The others breathed sighs of relief and smiled at her, grateful they dodged that bullet. She stared at the bottle for a moment in silence and shook her head. She couldn’t believe her un-luck.
“Meg. What’s my song?” Brett eagerly asked.
As the others gazed at her in anticipation, she quickly raced through the Rolodex of songs in her mind. It had to be an easy one and should be a crowd pleaser, so everyone could join in, just in case. Her eyes lit up as she finally had an idea.
“Benny and the Jets,” she smiled.
The table all complimented her on her selection in agreement. Brett was elated.
“I love that song. I sing it in the car all the time. I won’t even need to look at the words,” he said.
Meg relaxed, feeling reassured that everything would go well. And when his name came up, Brett walked up to the KJ and told him the song.
The opening piano chords began and a confident Brett began to sing. His voice was decent, but more than that, he really performed the song. He took the microphone off the stand and strutted around the stage, engaging the audience, who replied by clapping and singing the chorus with him… BBBB Benny and the Jets.
Meg noticed he mumbled some of the stranger words in the beginning of the song. He sang “we’re in a California car tonight” instead of “kill a fatted calf tonight” and he called her a real queen when the words were really keen, but no one seemed to notice. After all, Elton John’s accent did make that line a little difficult. And who knows what keen is anyway.
She waved it off and happily clapped along with her friends and joined in for the chorus. He didn’t even hesitate, so it really didn’t matter. She beamed with pride on her brilliant song choice to start Brett on his way.
But then he sang the verse “she’s got electric boobs and mohair shoes,” and everyone at the table looked at each other in shock.
“Did he say electric boobs?” Carrie asked and Matt and Jack started laughing.
“Yes he did.”
Meg nearly wrenched her neck glancing around the room with lightning speed. Some people were laughing, but most were still clapping and singing along.
She sighed in relief. Crisis averted. The song was over and Brett was cheered back to his table.
“That was great,” he smiled and chugged his beer in celebration.
“Sure it was…electric boobs,” Matt teased.
“Yeah, I’d really like to know what electric boobs are,” Jack giggled and Carrie smacked him on the arm in disapproval.
“What?” Brett asked.
“Ignore these childish fools,” Carried assured. “Who’s singing next?”
“No, it’s fine. Elton John knows. I don’t. Maybe he meant she had a glittery shirt. I never really thought about it.” Brett answered, somewhat puzzled at the question.
Jack and Matt pursed their lips to avoid giggling again.
“Did I miss a joke? Wasn’t it good?” Brett asked, a little annoyed.
“Your performance was stellar, but I don’t think you really nailed the words… exactly,” she said gently and Carrie showed him the real lyrics on her phone.
“Are you kidding?” he laughed. “Oh man, I’ve been singing it that way for years.”
“No problem, we all do it,” Meg laughed. “Now we know what your karaoke nickname will be…electric boobs.”
Jack and Matt burst out laughing, followed by the rest.
(c) Suzanne Rudd Hamilton 2022