Originally published February 10, 2012
Today, I am meeting my buddy Court for coffee at the Wired Monk, in Langley. Court lives on Vancouver Island but came to the Lower Mainland this week to attend a conference. Although we keep in touch by phone and email, I always enjoy the opportunity to meet with him in-person. The last time we saw each other was just before Christmas – at an A&W in Cloverdale – approximately 3 hours of sharing news and lots of laughter – “guy” stuff.
Anyway, while getting dressed this morning, I was listening to a “shuffle” (random) selection of songs on my iPod, when suddenly Rod Stewart came on, singing his classic ’60s tune “If I listen long enough to you” (flip side of Maggie May). Now that was a weird coincidence – and here’s why:
Court and I worked for the same multi-national corporation (GM) and would often travel to Toronto to attend quarterly staff meetings. In the evenings (after fun-filled days in a boardroom), we would regularly “tour” various local sites to become more knowledgeable on the “norms and customs” of the locals. But there was one night in particular, in the ’90s, that haunts both Court and me to this day.
We had met a couple of other business people that were staying in the same hotel – and they recommended that we go to BF Idaho, a nightclub in Ajax. In case you’re not familiar with Ajax – it’s a town just east of Toronto (I think Deliverance got filmed there). So after having dinner with our fellow drones, we excused ourselves and headed for the door. We hailed a taxi and instructed the driver to make haste to the BF Idaho in Ajax.
The driver stared at us, paused, and then asked: “Are you sure you want to go to BF Idaho’s”? Fear was in his eyes.
“Yes!” we screamed in unison, “and there’s an extra tip if you get us there quickly!”.
As we walked into the very dark bar – the only lights visible were coming from the stage. As we walked through the bar to our table, I started to worry that wearing our suits was probably a bad idea – we looked like cops. And the bar that we had just walked into was a “biker” bar. That’s right – mean, tough, tattoos all over their bodies – bikers!
It was a tense and dangerous moment, and we tried to hide our fear and loathing.
“Court, I am going to get us out of this situation, but you must keep a straight face – do not laugh or even smile – under any circumstance! Got it?” I whispered.
Court looked at me and nodded.
We sat down, gave the waitress our drinks order, and then I requested that I be the next in line for doing a karaoke song on the stage. Now I have never, ever sang in public – much less ever been in a karaoke bar, and never, ever been in or near a biker bar.
As I walked up to the stage and climbed the few steps, the bar became silent – you could hear a pin drop!
“Hi, I’m Danny, and I’m here on business from the Maritimes. I have never sung in public before, but when I saw Rod Stewart’s “Reason to Believe” song listed, it almost broke my heart. You see, back in the ’60s, it was my girlfriend’s favorite song – a girl that I was engaged to marry, until two weeks before our wedding day – she got killed in a car crash. And up until this moment, I have never been able to listen to that song – but now I want to do it in her memory,” I explained, all choked up with raw emotion.
Looking up at the ceiling, I stammered: “Sweetheart, this is for you!”
And as the music started playing, I began singing……”If I listen long enough to you. I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true”. Then I suddenly stopped, looked at the floor, and walked off the stage – pretending to be overtaken with grief.
As I made my way back to the table, the entire bar gave me a standing ovation – cheering and patting me on the back as I walked by them. A biker ran to the stage, grabbed the microphone, and finished the song for me. Court was at the table with his head in both of his hands.
“For God’s sake, Court, don’t let them see you are laughing, or we’ll never get out of here alive,” I whispered.
We sat with our faces in our hands when suddenly I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder. “Oh-oh, what now?” I thought. Could the night get any weirder?
“I just wanna give ya a big hug,” cried the gigantic biker gal, tears streaming down her face. “My brother got killed on his motorcycle, and I know just how you feel!”. As she hugged me, she kept repeating, “I know how ya feel,” and I kept answering her with, “No, you don’t!”.
Later that night, on our taxi ride back to the hotel, we both sat silently. We knew we had dodged a bullet and thanked our lucky stars.
I finally broke the silence by telling Court that he should have gone around the bar, taking up a collection for a headstone for the grave of my old girlfriend. We could have used the money to upgrade our return airfare to the business class!
Bt the way, this is a true story – but sadly, BF Idaho is no longer in business. I have never done karaoke since.
And the girlfriend to whom I was engaged, didn’t die – she dumped me.
It will be great to meet with Court again. I wonder what we’ll talk about?
I probably won’t be able to write about it here.
Dedicated to Court Brooker – best friend and mentor