We made it just in time for last call.
After a night of smoking cigars, igniting flaming Sambuca shots and playing dress-up, we decided it was time to leave the groomsmen alone to continue their manly activities—and to get the groom to bed before the big day.
We wandered down the street to 901, a shady bar in Cold Lake proper. It was packed and Chloe couldn’t resist the lure of karaoke. She carefully read through the binder before finally settling on a Loretta Lynn number. Last call was announced and the final singer was called up to the DJ booth—but the name they called wasn’t Chloe’s. She was from out of town and small town nepotism had won out in terms of the karaoke lineup, it seemed.
“Sorry, you’ll just have to come back tomorrow night,” the DJ told us.
This was not an option. “She just flew in from Toronto yesterday and we have a wedding to attend tomorrow night,” I protested. “This is one-time only. And it’s a performance you don’t want to miss.”
The DJ didn’t even humour my plea. “Sorry girls, I can’t do anything. The bar is closed.”
But Chloe already had the microphone in her hands. “C’mon, let me sing,” she said, her voice coming low through the speakers. "Yeah, let her sing!" I agreed.
And somehow, somewhere in the back near the pool tables, a rumble of a chant started. “Let her sing. . .let her sing. . .”
As the lights came on, people who had been filing out the door towards home stopped to watch. Then they joined the chanting. “Let her sing! Let her sing!” (The whole bar was cheering for her! For us!) It was a tense moment. The DJ and the bartender eyed one another and then eyed the crowd.
“Okay, but you have to make it quick. I need to get home to my woman.”
As Chloe started singing, women from the bar joined us, enthusiastically shouting the lyrics. Her request for Loretta had been lost, so she opted for the next best option, a sure crowd-pleaser. “Cause I’m a redneck woman, I ain’t no high class broad. . .”
Holding hands, Chloe and I followed Lakeshore Drive home from the bar, passing the familiar landmarks: the Harbour House, Kinosoo Beach, the MD Park. We were in agreement—the night had been quintessentially Cold Lake.
The next evening at the wedding--sometime between losing a dance off against a nine-year-old (I was told that she defeated me due to her use of “high kicks”—a move that if I’d tried to duplicate, I would have likely kicked her in the head—or worse, exposed myself) and arguing that Bunnicula, is, in fact, a real book series--there was a defining moment. As we related the story of our karaoke triumph to a captive (albeit somewhat inebriated) audience, a couple of guys piped up.
“We were there!” they told us, excited. “We were cheering for you!”
Indeed, it had been Cold Lake at its finest hour.