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I’m an introvert. I hate crowded places. I can’t stand unwanted attention.

All of these things were true of myself at the beginning of 2008. I stayed mostly to myself. My idea of going out was to go to the local Mexican restaurant to have a few margaritas and to practice my Spanish.

And then I was introduced to karaoke. My friend Jay talked me into going to a local karaoke bar. I was just there to watch, but I longed to get on stage and at least try. He got on stage with me for the first song to get me over the fear, but after that I was addicted.

I’m not a great singer. There’s nothing special about my performance on stage. But there’s something about singing a song you love in front of a room full of strangers.

Eventually I got up the nerve to talk to others in the bar. An easy conversation starter was to ask what others were singing. I grew more confident. And soon I stopped caring what others thought. It was about me and the good time I was having.

The first few weeks of December, I was in Olathe, Kansas for work. My evenings were free. I told one of my co-workers, “I’m going to try to find a local karaoke bar.”

“Good luck.” he said, “I haven’t heard of any around here.”

After about an hour on Google, I found one: The Double Nickel Bar and Grille.

I was there a little before karaoke started, and I put in my song. Then the KJ called me up, “Ronald, to the stage!”

I made a comment to the KJ, “First? You never told me I was going to go first.”

And she replied, “Someone’s gotta go first. It might as well be you.”

Did the crowd go wild? No. Did females flock to my presence? No. But I went up there and did the best I could when no one else would. It was the first time I sang karaoke in a foreign city with no moral support from friends. And I had a lot of fun after I got over my initial fears.

Fast forward to this past week when I spent New Years with my family in Austin, Texas. My dad asked me, “What do you want to do?” I responded, “I want to find a good karaoke bar.”

My dad (and brother) were shocked. It wasn’t the same Ronald they knew who would never ever dare sing in public.

It was hard finding a good karaoke bar near Round Rock, Texas, but eventually a waitress from the Tilted Kilt led us in the right direction.

“Try Homer’s! It’s a hole in the wall, but the karaoke is awesome.”

So to Homer’s Bar and Grille we went.

To my dad, I was still the same introverted kid who couldn’t look a person in the eye. “I can’t believe you sing karaoke.” he said.

But after my first song, he said, “I’m pretty impressed. You did a good job. What else do you sing?”

After we went home, he kept playing me songs on iTunes that he thought I should try at karaoke. My dad was as hooked as I was.

So I spent my New Year’s Eve in a karaoke bar. And I had a blast.

So happy karaoke New Year to you all. We’ll see what 2009 brings. Who knows, I may get over my fear of public speaking 🙂