Let me tell you about Denise.
You got your girlfriend flowers for Valentine’s Day? Ha.
You got your boyfriend tickets to a basketball game? Psh.
Denise hired someone to come to her boyfriend’s place at 8:00 AM and serenade him with a rendition of “Kiss You” by the band One Direction.
Now let me tell you about me.
You think it’s bad when you sing? Ha.
You think your high notes crack and your low notes grumble like Jabba the Hutt? Psh.
I am the guy at karaoke who clears the floor. The guy who gets to the mic in front of a room full of people– people who had been dancing and singing along to the act that preceded me– and sings with a voice that sends them flocking to the restrooms, that reminds them to return that text from their friend, that encourages them to just sit silently and wait for the horror to be over.
This is the story about the day Denise hired me to sing to her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day.
“So my boyfriend Charlie,” Denise explained over the phone, “is a huge One Direction fan.” I can’t believe he was single when you met him, I thought. “I want to surprise him with someone doing a silly version of the song ‘Kiss You.’” Now, I should take a moment to point out that the mission of doing a silly version of “Kiss You” has already been accomplished by One Direction themselves. In case you haven’t seen the music video– and I’m gonna go out on a limb and say there’s not a ton of overlap between my readership and people who watch 1D music videos– here it is.
If you stopped watching after the one guy on the motorcycle tickled the other guy in the nipples, then you made it farther than most.
“Now there’s a parking lot a couple minutes from my boyfriend’s place,” she explained. “You’ll have to walk from there since you can’t park directly on campus.” Did she just say campus?
“I’m sorry, did you just say campus?”
“Yeah, he lives in a dorm.” Did she just say dorm?
“So we’re doing this in the middle of a college campus?” I asked, hoping my phone was having reception problems.
“Yeah, we’re both in grad school.”
“Wait, so is there a chance that we’ll be waking people up at 8:00 on a Friday morning to the sound of me cranking out One Direction?”
“I don’t think anyone will really mind being woken up at 8:00 in the morning,” she said, showing a total understanding of how the average college student feels about sleeping past eight.
We covered a few other details like what dance moves I planned to use (I made the mistake of proposing sexually suggestive dance moves as I figured that’s how boy bands must dance. This was a mistake because she eagerly agreed, going so far as to say, “The more sexually suggestive dance moves the better”) and some ways I could alter the lyrics so it would be about their relationship. It was gonna be a fun time.
The next day, I got to work. I poured over the lyrics, playing the song on repeat while I emulated the vocals and choreographed dance moves. While I wasn’t necessarily getting better, I was managing to make my brand new roommate seriously question her decision to move in.
As I played the song over and over, something mortifying started to happen. I started to like it. I feel we’re all allowed to listen to a certain amount of guilty-pleasure music while still being respected for our music taste, but there’s a line somewhere along the way that when you pass it, that respect irrevocably disappears. I’m not sure exactly where that line is, but I’m pretty sure it comes before the point when you find yourself listening to a band that allowed this picture of themselves to exist:
Time crept along, and soon it was Valentine’s Day. Denise was waiting for me when I parked my car and unloaded my sound system. “So, my boyfriend ended up staying at my apartment last night,” she told me as we walked up the path toward campus. “So, unfortunately, we’ll have to do it there, and not in front of the entire dorm.” It’s possible we have different definitions of the word “unfortunately.”
“Oh that’s too bad.”
“Also, I told him you were a friend visiting from Chicago. He’s pretty sketched out because I’ve been acting so evasive and I’m meeting up with this guy at 7:30 in the morning and bringing him to our apartment on Valentine’s Day.” Great!!
When we got to the apartment, Charlie was waiting on the couch, already looking uncomfortable.
“This is my friend from Chicago,” she told him.
“Don’t have much luggage,” he said, nodding at my sound system.
Ha, yes, well, you know, I uh, I mean I uh— “I travel light.” I said. He nodded skeptically. “I’m sorry to do this, but do you mind if I just check something with my sound system?” I asked. “I’m worried there might be an issue and my band has a show tonight.”
Charlie looked at me with a bit of distrust in his eyes. Why not, right? I’m already some random guy who’s gonna be staying at your girlfriend’s place that she forgot to mention. Might as well make myself at home.
Denise pulled Charlie into the other room while I readied the equipment. When I finished setting up, I took a few deep breaths. Here goes nothing.
“Charlie,” I said into the mic. Denise and Charlie walked back into the room. “You probably have figured out that I’m not visiting from out of town.” I explained that Denise knew how much Charlie loved One Direction and that the band was sorry they couldn’t be here, so they had sent me to sing to him on this special day.
I started the song, incorporating the aforementioned sexually suggestive dance moves. Pelvic thrusts at moments not totally justified. Long, sex-like stares into Charlie’s eyes. And running of fingers down my body when describing the kind of ru-uh-ush I get every time we tou-uh-uch.
But I also pulled out some of the boy band classics. There was jumping up and down, bending all the way to the floor as I held notes, and even that one where you hold the mic to the audience during the “yeah yeah yeah”’s so they’ll sing along.
As I sang, I became a rockstar. The two of them went wild. They danced and jumped and sang right along with me. You know, when they weren’t keeling over laughing at how stupid I looked.
When I finished the song and took my bows, Denise rushed over to thank me, even sliding me a tip. Then it was over. And the three of us were standing there awkwardly as I packed up my sound system, not really sure what kind of small talk to make. What do you say to someone who has just exposed that side of themselves in front of you in your own living room? I imagine it was the same awkward silence strippers experience when they pick up their clothes at the end of the bachelor party.
Then we said our goodbyes and I walked out the door.
I assume Denise and I will never talk again, and I suppose that’s okay. But a part of me will always wonder how things turn out between her and Charlie. Do they break up a few months from now? Do they get married? Do they have kids? I don’t know. I guess all I know for sure is they won’t ask me to sing at the wedding.
Odd Job: Singing One Direction to Someone’s Boyfriend on Valentine’s Day
-  Or you got flowers for your boyfriend and sports tickets for your girlfriend. I’m open to non-hetero-normative views of relationships! Don’t hate me internet! ↩
-  I kid. She was very patient and accommodating. She didn’t complain once except to say, “I didn’t realize when I took the tour how thin the walls are.” ↩
-  Oh, did I not mention that I would be singing into a sound system? Yeah, my shame knows no bounds. ↩
-  It should be noted that “Kiss You” is 60% yeah yeah yeah’s. ↩
One Direction photo courtesy of http://thatonedirectionpage.tumblr.com/
In some but not all articles, names or identifying characteristics or individual lines of dialogue have been changed to protect identities or because remembering exactly how things happened is hard. But in every case, an effort was made to maintain the integrity of these events that did indeed actually happen.
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