“It’s not so bad, honey. Besides, it’s special to me. It’s the first place I ever performed karaoke,” I’m talking about Chop Sticks III, the How-Can-Be-Lounge, a little dive bar (and I mean that with the greatest of affection) in the Northeast Industrial side of Portland, Oregon. If you live in any of the Eastside neighborhoods, it’s a hop skip and a jump south on Columbia or north on MLK. It offers nightly karaoke and a daily Chinese food lunch buffet, both of which top the list amongst Portland destinations. It’s a little off the beaten path, but, it’s still one of my favorite venues.
We get dressed and make the trek north on I-5 to Chop Sticks III. Karaoke starts at nine, but we get there at seven so we can take advantage of happy hour. The prices are phenomenal no matter when you go, but, at Happy Hour they’re insanely good.
We order a couple of PBR’s, fish and chips, and a gigantic bowl of egg drop soup at the bar and make our way through the not yet crowded bar to a corner booth. It’s dimly lit, Christmas lights decorate the front stage, which is bordered on each end by giant televisions. The walls are decorated with typical Asian fare, including the different animals affiliated with certain birth years. I’m a monkey and my wife is a snake, turns out. There are also some pool tables in the back.
People start to file in. The crowd is diverse, but the common denominator is the friendly mood everyone seems to bring with them. The Karaoke DJ kicks things off promptly at nine and, before long, the crowd of onlookers becomes a crowd of participants as everyone is up and dancing on the wooden dance floor that dominates the front of the bar. The music is an eclectic mix of everything from country to classic R & B, to hip hop to good old fashioned rock and roll. The singers range from the terrifically terrible to terrifically terrific.
After several hours, we’re tired and we cash out. My wife looks at the bill and raises her eyebrows. “That’s it?” She says.
“Yep. Good prices, eh?”
“I’ll say,” she says. We make our way out to the parking lot and safely back home. My wife tells me how much she enjoyed Chop Sticks III and said that the drive was worth it. “Let’s do it again real soon,” She says.
“Okay,” I say with a smile.