Sometimes I like to daydream. I think about what life would be like if I had no lips, or what I would look like if my head was made of baloney – or as Oscar Mayer spells it – bologna. In one of my recent mental vacations, I imagined I was a polyp in the small intestine of Drew Barrymore. But this morning’s daydream was like none before it.
It started in a swanky bar in Vineland, New Jersey. I was playing piano, accompanying a forty-something lounge singer named LaTootsie, or as those who were in her inner circle called her, LaTootsi. We were just finishing the first set when a young, dapper gentleman approached us. He looked at our tip jar containing just a few singles and said he would put one thousand dollars in it if we could pull off a special request. LaTootsi and I were stunned and excited. You see, one thousand dollars could change our lives. LaTootsi would be able to get that spleen enhancement surgery she had wanted for so long, and I could finally have my van carpeted. But, when we heard his request, our excitement turned to apprehension.
You see, this dapper gent, we’ll call him Melvin (his real name is Marvin, but don’t tell anyone), was the world’s biggest Carol Channing fan. He was also the world’s third biggest Boy George fan. And, he was something like the 315th biggest Leo Sayer fan. His request involved the combining of these three colossal talents. He wanted us to perform ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancin’. LaTootsi would sing in the voice of Carol Channing while juggling three individual serving packets of mayonnaise, and I would play piano as Boy George. A tall order, to be sure. But this was one thousand dollars, and LaTootsi’s spleen and my van just weren’t cutting it anymore. So, we accepted the challenge.
Backstage, during our 15 minute break, we began to prepare. I was unable to find my inner Karma Chameleon, so I had to settle for a Hasidic Hamster. I was pretty sure that Melvin would not notice the substitution. LaTootsi drank some battery acid to prepare her voice and ate three lemons to help capture that immortal Channing facial expression.
The 15 minutes passed way too quickly, and it was time to perform. This was it. The break we had been waiting for. If we could just get past this next number, my van and her spleen would never be the same.
As I started the chord progression on the piano, LaTootsi began to to juggle the mayonnaise. Then, the poignant words of this immortal song began to flow from her lips – “You’ve got a cute way of talkin. You got the better of me”. I nervously looked toward Melvin for a reaction. I could not believe it. He was smiling from ear to ear, while tears were streaming down his face. You see, for the last 10 years, he had been searching for a musical act that could pull off this request, and his search had always ended in disappointment. Either the singer could not get low enough, or they couldn’t find mayonnaise packets. There was always at least one piece that wasn’t right. But not tonight. We were killing it.
After the song, he put ten one hundred dollar bills in our tip jar. On our next break he explained his bizarre request. You see, neither Melvin nor Marvin was his real name. He was actually the illegitimate son of Carol Channing and Leo Sayer. He lived with Carol for the first 10 years of his life, and she would never let him eat mayonnaise. That is when the unhealthy obsession with Boy George began. If he couldn’t have his mayo, then he was going to rebel in the way that would most hurt his mom – Carol absolutely hated the Culture Club. This performance would finally bring peace to his soul, resolve the inner conflicts from his childhood, and set free his inner demons. And we pulled it off. LaTootsi would get her spleen enhancement and my van would be much more comfortable. As we said goodbye to our friend, we realized that none of us would ever be the same. As he pulled away in his limo, it finally hit me. I knew he looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place his face. No, he wasn’t Melvin, nor Marvin. He was Justin. Justin Bieber.