I’m sitting having a quiet drink in a San Telmo cafe (empty) when the waitress turns the sound system up to 10 and “The Final Countdown” blasts across the room. Waiter and waitress start dancing and caterwauling along to this 80s classic and suddenly I’m transported to Karaoke Box, Soho, London. And I realise how amazingly great a karaoke place would be here in Buenos Aires, while at the same time wondering if anyone would ever visit it.
I’m not talking about karaoke bars or karaoke shows or anywhere people nurse a beer, steadfastly putting up with the variable singing qualities of strangers while waiting for their chance to sing. You can sing karaoke practically anywhere they serve drinks in Buenos Aires, so long as you like an audience. But where is the tiny soundproofed box you cram six of your friends in to torture with your rendition of “Eye of the Tiger”?
Private karaoke rooms don’t exist here. That’s karaoke where you pay for a room by the hour, Japanese style, and pick the tracks you sing from the in-room karaoke machine while waiters bring drinks on demand. But is that because people don’t want to sing in a little room to their friends or because they’ve never been given the chance to love it?
I conducted a poll among a cross-section of the population (me, my husband, and the pets): Would you go to a karaoke booth where you could sing in a private room to your friends, drink cheap beer and pick your own tracks?
Yes, private karaoke lets you sing to your heart’s content without fear of being booed off the stage.
Maybe, but I have YouTube, a microphone and cheap beer at home.
Yes, definitely, but I’m a cat and consequently wouldn’t be allowed in.
I still think it’s a good business idea. Even if we’re the only customers.
It’s been a while since the storm in Buenos Aires uprooted our pine tree but we’ve finally had to say goodbye. The giant tree was taken down last week by a team of workers with chainsaws and a head for heights. It had to be done – the tree was leaning dangerously across the garden towards the new construction on the next-door lot. Who knew when a strong wind or some movement within the earth would cause it to fall? Now it’s down we don’t have to worry about the dogs, the car, a lawsuit from the next-door-neighbors… But it was with great sadness that we said goodbye to the pine.
The tree was part of the yard since Mario’s parents first moved here over 40 years ago. And while I’ve only known the tree for a few years, Mario watched it grow from a tiny twig to the stately tower it became.
The pine marked the house. It was decorated with lights at Christmas, and it gave shelter to hundreds of species of insects, birds and animals. Our cat climbed up to the height of two floors when he was still little and hadn’t realised how scary it would be to come down again. The pine was settled, steadfast and solid. Somehow it never seemed to change, not like the other trees and plants that shed leaves and dropped branches and moved in the breeze.
But it moved on. There’s a smell of pine in the air and a gap in the garden. The space seems incomplete. But I’m planning a new vegetable plot and we’re looking forward to spring. Many things change.