A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday, by Tim Roxborogh.
I hadn't even noticed the artwork. I was just focused on settling some jangly nerves ahead of hearing my name read out to sing. My first song choice was Paul Simon's 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and there was no time to analyse all the pictures on the walls. It was New York, 2006, I was a naive young man in the Big Apple for the first time and life was good. I'd made some friends at a backpackers off Times Square, we'd walked the Brooklyn Bridge, seen some stand-up comedy, grabbed a hot dog for cliche's sake and were now having some lung-bursting good times at a karaoke bar.
Let me preface all of this with a sincere and Seinfeldian "not that there's anything wrong with that". As in, the first (unnoticed) indication this was very much a gay karaoke bar was being asked to dance by a friendly local man. The obvious connotation flew over my oblivious head. I'm not really a dancer so I encouraged the man to dance with the girls I was with, to which he looked a little dejected.
Feeling buoyed that the man had also told me he liked my singing, I bragged to two American women next to me at the bar that "a guy has just asked me to dance! What a hoot!" They shot me an expression that said, "we are of the opinion you are not a hoot".
I then went to the bathroom and for the first time in my water closet career saw multiple toilet bowls - not urinals - but toilet bowls with the stall walls removed. The urinals were at right angles to the bowls and there were mirrors everywhere. "What an unusual bathroom," I thought.
Then the penny (sort of) dropped. I mentioned to one of the Aussie girls from the backpackers that, "not that there's anything wrong with it, but I have a feeling this might be a gay bar". She laughed, possibly even snorted. "You think!? Haven't you noticed all the paintings?"
Truth is, I was concentrating so hard on singing my Paul Simon, Commodores and Bee Gees numbers that I hadn't once triggered I was surrounded by brushstrokes of all manner of groins. Zoomed-in groins too. Indeed, groins so enlarged it wasn't immediately obvious what you were looking at, if you were preoccupied with delivering the hits to the fans. And the two American women at the bar were, of course, a couple.
But now, as it was then, so what? The crowd were an awesome bunch of predominantly NewYorkers and I'm still yet to see a karaoke bar with a bigger range of songs. We're talking literally thousands upon thousands, all with backing tracks almost identical to the real thing.
Having your bags broken into while flying
I read in an article the other day that theft on planes is on the rise internationally. We're talking about passengers stealing from other passengers. With the simultaneous increase in the number of people carrying portable electronic devices and the decrease in weight of things like once clunky laptops, it's not a surprise.
Combine this with the still correct advice to not stow valuable items in your check-in luggage for fear of in-house security breaches, and sleeping passengers can be a bit of a sitting target.
So what do you do? Well, items are less likely to be stolen from zipped-up bags in overhead lockers than if left in the seat pockets. Combination locks are also only a minor hassle compared to the pain of having your stuff nicked. Don't forget your combination (as a friend of mine did, only hours after buying the lock) and you'll be good to go.
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's The Two, Coast Soul on Coast and writes the RoxboroghReport.com.