It began as a mean day, the winter already eating at our nerves, but by 11. pm we found ourselves warm, beer happy, and watching Karaoke at Chopsticks III. The sign for the place rises from the parking with the unbelievable subtitle – How Can Be Lounge. No question mark.
It How Can Be like this – orange walls the color of an old basket ball, Christmas lights draped over handdrawn placards explaining Chinese dishes, and a buffet also lit with holiday lights gleaming and reflecting oh-so-gently in the sneeze guard.
The woman at the door wears her sheriff’s dept. uniform so casually that only her badge and gun belt mark her as a real officer. She has a round, pretty face and big square teeth the exact shape of her shiny manicured nails. Her hair is crisp, dyed blonde, teased, and sprayed to resemble bleached bird plumage. She looks like a cheerful suburban mom but has a physical confidence that says she can handle her riot stick or her gun.
Two cute, indie white kids are doing Salt and Pepper on the floor while the black ladies playing video lottery look up from their jewel bright screens and smile bemusedly, then return to their video business. The white kids are oblivious and that’s for the best.
For the last act of the night Chelsey and Josh do "Leather and Lace." Karaoke does count in the Stevie Nicks good luck formula I decided, because of chelsea's bright voice and brighter eyes in the dim lounge, and because everyone at the table is quietly singing alone with an embarrassed sincerity.
“My city, Your mountain, stay with me stay…”
By midnight, the How Has Been, out goes the lounge sign, and rain hits the parking lot in cold hissing sheets.