Friday, March 26, 2010

Karaoke Mule Days

I'm a LAUGISCH in name and fiercely proud of it, but what courses through my veins mostly, is Harnett County, PAGE blood.  If  I had to pick one animal that typifies the PAGE men, it would be the MULE!  Somewhere in our lineage, there has to be a family crest with this beast of burden firmly affixed upon it.  I know the first thing most folks will think of when it comes to this notoriously under-valued animal is it's well deserved reputation for being stubborn.  It goes without saying that the first observable characteristic of a PAGE man is his stubbornness...Lord, we were either blessed or cursed with this affliction and it has driven many a woman married to our kind, out of their damn minds. 

Before we further tarnish the reputation of this animal in comparison to PAGE men, let's get some facts straight for the non-farming types in my readership.  A mule is a cross between a male (Jackass) donkey and your standard horse mare.  Strangely, a mule can't reproduce because it has an odd number of chromosomes.  No, I did not know that before making this entry but I figured because you have been such a keen audience, I would throw in a little "Did you know"  to go along with my typical wit and wisdom. You can thank me later.  The prized characteristic of this animal was it's ability to work...basically haul and pull stuff...all damn day.  Farmers further came to appreciate the Mule because it was a lower maintenance animal than most horses and could tolerate extreme weather conditions better.  We Page men are that way... we can work all day if necessary and some of us have stayed out in the sun too long but give us a pack of nabs and a cold bottle of Mountain Dew and we're good to go.  Now, don't go thinking that Page men could build the Egyptian Pyramids if that notion crossed our, it doesn't mean we all work smart, fast or just means we're a hard working lot!

So, who's the King Mule of the Page Dynasty?  Most people living in the Raven Rock community would probably come to the conclusion that my grandfather, the late, great Laurie James Page would be at the top of that list, but he runs a distant second to another Page man:  Brother Fred.  Frederick Karl Laugisch is the King Mule in our family and it's not even close.  Oh, he's had a couple of challenges for that distinction from the likes of Grandpa, Uncle Roger and myself, but each and every time after the dust settled, there sat Fred basking in the glory of all his orneriness.

I'll give him his due, as a brother I should because he is the most caring of us all and would give you his last dime...and shirt if it called for it.  What makes him so damn stubborn?  Who the hell knows...but he will attempt to "dive deeper, swim farther and come up drier" at the whisper of a dare... naturally, with mixed results. When he latches onto a notion or thought, your going to play hell trying to prove him otherwise.  Take for example, Karaoke.  He graduated from college a few years back and the family loaded up a van and drove to Ohio for the ceremony.  He reserved a large meeting room in the hotel for the graduation party, complete with a Karaoke machine.

A man has got to know his limitations and I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I'm any good at it...I'm not...and usually it takes a lot of prodding and "liquid courage" for me to grab the mike.  I have come to learn that when your not a good Karaoke singer, like me, the respectable thing to do for your audience is to find a nice, short, song that you're familiar with and shouldn't butcher too bad.  My "go to" song when I'm up on the stage making an ass of myself is "King of the Road," by Roger Miller.  It's about 3 minutes long, the words and verses are easy to remember and everybody walks away with their hearing intact.

I was a huge fan of the Eagles for the majority of my teenage years and adult life.  That all came to a sudden and frightening ending when Fred grabbed the mike that night to sing "Hotel California."  It's got a great melody and the words are fairly easy to understand, "what's the problem, Mark?"  It's 7 minutes long folks.  Rinse and repeat...It's 7 FRIGGIN MINUTES LONG!!  Lord, it was erie to think that the sound coming from Fred was akin to a "Mule" braying away at the night but that is exactly what it sounded like.  The problem was, you found yourself sitting there thinking, "Wow, he is really terrible."  Then it hits you, as you realize at first, "Oh, he's singing the Eagles..." then your heart pounds and your mind races as you see the death of Rock & Roll before you, "Oh Mother of God!!..It's Hotel California...IT'S 7 FRIGGIN MINUTES LONG!!"  We all sat there with contorted faces and mixed emotions, "could this be the worse sound ever emitted from a human?

Mind you now, Fred had "thrown back" quite a few beers before embarking upon his quest to destroy this song and because he had to stare down at the monitor to read the words he had no clue to what effect this  had upon his audience.  After he finishes, he literally looks around at us and asks, "How was that, pretty good, Uh?"  Seriously, he thought he had won a Grammy or something and started to work the room to get some feedback.  This is where he earns his money for being stubborn.  Criticism does not affect him in the least as he was bound and determined to find that one person who thought his version was better than anything Don Henley could ever muster.

Sadly, my story doesn't end there.  In retrospect, we all collectively, as an audience , should have given him a standing ovation as he now torments us at every opportunity to prove beyond a doubt that he is the "Master" of that damn song.  He is like a Shark in the water whenever we have family gatherings and if there is somehow a Karaoke machine around he circles it in anticipation and waits like the stubborn mule that he is, til we drop our guard...and like poison we hear, "On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair..."  Keep on Rockin in the Free world brother...we still love you.


  1. I've also had the pleasure of hearing Fred grind out 'Hotel California' at a karaoke bar in Minnesota. The place was packed and Fred certainly left them speechless...

  2. Ha ha ha. I'm dying here just picturing it! Funny stuff, Mark! You should have heard Greg try "Dreamweaver" once. It was so painful. I still have nightmares.

  3. Ricky,
    Thanks for reading and glad you were entertained by Brother Fred...I can't ask much more from him as he has provided me plenty of material to comment over the years. He's got a good soul none the less.

    We need to settle this once and for all...I propose a "Sing off" between Fred and Greg to determine the worst voice in the family. It will be an epic occassion.