|Sometimes you just have to go to those karaoke bars. The ones with the names like ‘Sing Along Inn,’ and ‘Crooner’s Corner,’ and ‘Chant A New Tune Tune.’ It gives you courage. Hennie loved to perform in public. No one had to force her to stand in front of twenty drunken strangers and sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ She wanted to do it. Even when a man screamed up at her, "With a voice like that you should always sing alone." She didn’t mind; she was one with her music. Besides, the man was wearing a toupee, a bad toupee, but is their really such a thing as a good toupee, her sister Odette later wondered. It looked like a curly brown bathmat perched on his head. "People who live in glass houses," Hennie thought to herself and shrugged.
Her half-sister Odette was the embarrassed one. After Hennie sang ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade,’ again, Odette came to the edge of the stage and grabbed her half-sister by the sleeve of her pink cardigan sweater. "Let someone else use the mike, for cripe’s sake," Odette suggested. She pushed Hennie into their booth. "Besides, your beer’s getting warm."
"I have a nice voice," Hennie said with a little-girl pout. She tucked her short blonde hair behind her ears. "Daddy always said I had a nice voice."
"When you were three years old I am sure you sang like the angels." Hennie’s voice was fine, not altogether tuneless, a bit husky though, gravely really, somewhere between Dick Cavett and a middle-aged Natalie Wood. Besides, it wasn’t Hennie’s voice Odette was worried about. She was worried about men. She was certain some man and his feckless friend would saunter over to the table, their thumbs hooked in their belt loops, beefy smiles on their fat faces. She was certain they would use Hennie’s singing as an opening gambit to start a conversation. "Hey gorgeous, God gave you a gorgeous set of lungs." She didn’t cherish the idea of spending the rest of the evening discussing Hennie’s lungs. Lungs indeed!
"Sister of mine," Odette said, her voice rising to be heard above the caterwauling of a fat man attempting to sing ‘Wind Beneath my Wings,’ "it is just not natural to want to be Miss Barbra Striesand. I mean this place is just not normal."
"You never want me to have a good time," Hennie said with dangerous anger.
"I refuse to have this conversation." Odette brought the bottle of beer up to her lips and took a full swig. "Besides, I’m the one celebrating, aren’t I?"
"Then you sing," Hennie said. Odette didn’t want to sing. Odette could sing, she could sing just as well as Hennie, God had certainly given her a gorgeous set of lungs as well, but she didn’t like to sing. Odette had sung in the high school choir until junior year when Sister Mary Francis Medina caught her kissing Peter Wexler in the choir loft. Sister Mary Francis Medina was a skinny old nun and mean and everyone called her Sister Skull. For forty-five minutes Sister Skull lectured Odette and Peter on the sins of kissing. It was enough to make a person stop singing forever.