Back when I was twenty-two and knew all the things that I don’t know anymore, I spent five glorious months in a place called Cripple Creek, Colorado. I got the chance to work as a professional actress, hone my sandwich-making skills, and fall in love. Cripple Creek, Colorado is where I met my Rangers.
The Rangers (self-coined) were a group of actors who had no love lives to speak of (in Cripple Creek, this was not necessarily a negative). We were five lonely people who made absolute best friends and gave each other funny nicknames like “Lil’ Fella” and “Classic Tiny”. Living together, working together, drinking together; we forged a bond that can never be broken.
When we Rangers weren’t watching Making the Squad: Season 1 (that would be the CMT reality show about auditioning for and subsequently becoming a part of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, hereafter referred to as the DCC) or performing in our Vampire oriented melodrama that some say inspired the Twilight series, we were headed to Bob and Linda’s Karaoke Explosion! More a touring journey than a destination, Bob and Linda were a very sweet older Cripple Creek based couple who brought out their Karaoke machine every Thursday night at either Ralph’s Bar and Break Room in Cripple Creek or Dirty Sally’s Grill and Bar in Victor, Colorado. Victor was the 500 (generous) person suburb of Cripple Creek and it didn’t have quite the same panache, lacking CC’s fancy casinos and two stop lights.
Karaoke Explosion! was the social event of the area. They hung streamers and put a laminated flyer on the door with Scotch Tape. We loved the Explosion! so much that we didn’t think twice when one Thursday night it began to snow over our sleepy mountain towns. We hopped in my little green Saturn and drove the perilous mountain road the two miles to Victor.
Others must have been deterred by the snow, because our Cripple Creek friends were nowhere to be found (save Bob and Linda, of course). The bar was full of mostly old dudes with long scraggly beards and overly thin and energetic ladies, everyone with nicotine stains under their fingers and fatigue in their eyes. Watching us five musical theatre Rangers walk into Dirty Sally’s must have been akin to watching the cast of Glee do a cameo on The Wire. Except that in Karaoke Explosion!, everyone sings.
Alcohol bridges all gaps. Slowly but surely we made friends with the Victor locals. By the end of the evening, when Lil’ Fella and Classic Tiny got up to perform “Summer Nights”, the entire bar joined in a men vs. women crowd rendition that is the closest I’ve ever come to my dreams of living in a musical.