David Hirshey writes regularly for Deadspin about soccer.
Several years ago, on a pub crawl with friends, I stopped for a nightcap at a bar called The Parlour on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The place was festooned with posters and memorabilia from the bar's favorite soccer team, Glasgow Celtic, as well as a table of young ladies who looked like they had enjoyed a pint or six during the evening and wouldn't object to a bunch of guys buying them another round.
One thing led to another, and I found myself regaling a sodden brunette in tank top and low-riding jeans about the time I took a leak next to Bruce Springsteen in the bathroom of a movie theater.
"Wow," she gasped, leaning closer. "So how was he?"
"Very nice," I replied, "I told him I loved his music, and he thanked me."
"No, I mean how was he DOWN there," she burbled.
"Sorry," I said. "Men don't look."
I sensed her disappointment, and, sure enough, she soon wandered away from the table. Then there was a commotion at the front of the bar, the music started up and she reappeared with a microphone. Oh fuck, I thought to myself, I've stumbled into Karaoke Hell. Worse, the song she was singing was "Born To Run."
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All of a sudden, she stuck the mike in my face. "No thanks," I told her. That was a mistake. She became more insistent. I begged off again, saying, "As much as I love the Boss, I can't carry a tune."
"That's okay," she slurred into the microphone, "you can tell us about his dick."
"I told you, I never saw it," I said, glancing nervously around the room.
"Yes you did, you homo."
Now I know how John Amaechi felt riding the bus with Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz. Suffice it to say that I yelled "Check, please" shortly thereafter and have not been to a Karaoke Night ever since.
But it wasn't until this weekend that I realized how lucky I was to escape without having my legs battered with a golf club. By now, you've surely heard of Liverpool's team-bonding night out on the town that ended with the neckless thug Craig Bellamy grabbing a putter and doing a Nancy Kerrigan on his teammate John Arne Riise after the Norwegian defender demurred in joining Bellamy on stage.
Although manager Rafa Benitez, who was rousted out of bed to break up the fight, refuses to talk about the incident other than to say, "the spirit amongst the lads is very good," I can only imagine that Bellamy was warbling Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" or maybe some early Wham.
Bellamy, for his part, has a long history of making racist, homophobic comments that would make Tim Hardaway look like Martin Luther King. Riise, meanwhile, is frequently seen out and about with his best "friend," the famous Norweigian dancer Kjetil Iversen, the Siegfried to his Roy, if you will.
Still, whatever the reason, unless you're a Scouser, you've got to be amused by the timing of the bust-up, coming as it does only days before Liverpool's biggest match of the year, the Champion's League showdown with Barca on Wednesday. This is the same Barcelona that won the title last year and, in Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o, boast two of the world's most feared players. But both are also vain and volatile egomaniacs, and Eto'o has always chafed at the special treatment he feels Ronaldinho gets from the club.
It didn't help that after the Cameroonian hitman, returning from a knee injury that kept him out for five months, opted not to enter last week's game for the final garbage time minutes, Ronnie accused him of putting himself ahead of the team. Eto'o's response was adopt the third person and say, "anyone who comes out to the press and says Eto'o has refused to play is a bad person."
Coupled with this weekend's La Liga defeat to Valencia , this internal dissension might make one think that Barca is imploding. Certainly Benitez hoped that was the case when he mused, "When the draw was made people were saying Barcelona are the best team in the world. After two months we are lot better, and they have had some problems."
Of course, that was before Karaoke night. Now he's singing a different tune.