The intervening period between Christmas and New Year went like a blur. Without the online incursions I was supposed to busy myself with when indoors, I had no excuse when invitations came from various acquaintances. I was never a party animal even when I was young, though this time around, most of the gatherings I attended provided more of eating and singing. One such occasion happened two days before the year ended.

In the local setting, drinking is never absent in celebrations. Even though I could claim to be the most capable person who could turn down offers of sprees without hurting feelings, I could give in once in a while but for only several shots.

By accident, I passed by in front of the video karaoke after a song ended. It was the quickest route out the door.

“I dare you to sing Hotel California,” someone shouted from the crowd.

Murmurs followed; the kind that provoked the challenged to defend his honor.

No way, Jose! I had already my plan of escaping the scene when the chance presented itself. I would not make myself the main attraction, belting out a rendition of a classic like I was Don Henley himself.

“I have a sore throat,” I lied convincingly, clearing the passage with the corresponding sound.

“Drink this,” my kumpare took his cue and handed me a glass with yellow fluid in it.

“What is it?” I asked, frowning to show my disinterest.

“Pineapple juice,” he replied, grinning from ear to ear. He looked like a ripe tomato, his face glistening with perspiration.

“I have to go home. I am not feeling well.”

“That man is from the city. He kept on boasting that village people were no good in singing. You could prove him wrong.”

Like a conspirator, my kumpare whispered more compliments to my ears, trying his darn best to force me to take up the challenge.

“Drink this and you’ll make him eat his words.”

The imp on my shoulder won: I drank.

Guess what? I was not that bad. Clapping of hands accompanied my performance. I was like a restless body on my chair, twisting and turning to the rhythm, slurring the lyrics as if the American accent was my own since birth. 😀

Roars of glee erupted when I was finally finished. I was not sure if they liked what they heard or they were simply happy that I entertained them.

“I am impressed,” the man approached me, patting my shoulder.

“By the way, how did you know I could sing?”

“Your kumpare boasted that village people are better singers than city folks.”

“One for the road,” my kumpare intruded in our conversarion and gave me another shot. “Here’s to our champion!”

What the heck! Such indulgence would be over once I left the place.



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