Red Hook Idol

The Elvis movie that inspired my Lip Sync act.

The Elvis movie that inspired my Lip Sync act.

Since I don’t really have anything much to report today, I figured that I’d finally get around to telling that little tale that I have been putting off for about a year now. It is the story of how I won my high school Lip Sync during my junior year at Red Hook High School.

That event happened on this date eleven years ago. I had decided on Elvis Presley for my act about a week before I went on my class trip to Puerto Rico and when I got back, I really started to put everything together, ultimately deciding on the song “Jailhouse Rock” for my act.

I had done some Lip Syncs in elementary school so that was nothing new to me. But this time, it was a contest where you could win a hundred dollars in cash. Of course I was definitely in. I was also hoping that entering the Lip Sync would help boost my popularity. I also chose The King as my act because it would be the last thing that the people in the audience would expect me to do and sometimes people who choose unexpected things come out winners. From the beginning, I felt as though I had it in the bag.

Some of the other acts that I competed against were doing more contemporary (for 1996 anyway) acts like Garth Brooks, the Beastie Boys, Nirvana, and even 70’s disco tunes. In a way, Elvis kind of stood out. One person even performed live (that’s right, live!) before the audience. All were well received.

Then my act came up. Things went really well and I felt that I did do a very good job as far as impersonating the King went. A friend who was also in my act lent me an Elvis wig and a gold jacket. Halfway through the act, I took off the jacket and threw it on the stage, which really whipped the crowd into an uproar and in a way, probably helped tip the scales in my favor.

I still could not believe it when they announced my name stating that I had won the Red Hook High School Lip Sync, even though all along I knew I had it in the bag. It was like fate intervened in my case. People never forgot that night when they signed my yearbook for that year.

There was not another Lip Sync in 1997 because there was not enough interest, but I have done some singing in my post-high school life. I have done karaoke on various occasions during Tivoli Day events from 1998-2000, performing songs from artists like M.C. Hammer, Bon Jovi, and Garth Brooks (in fact, it was the very same song that I competed against in the Lip Sync: “Friends in Low Places.”) The last time was back in 2002 when I did an Eminem song at the Fonda Fair on Labor Day. Aside from that, I had not done any singing since then.

But as the old saying goes, “Hey. You never know.”


High School Revisited

My high school senior portrait from Red Hook High School taken in 1996.

This year is a year that I have dreaded ever since I graduated from Red Hook High School back in June of 1997. This year marks ten years since I received my high school diploma and you know what that means, right? That means the inevitable ten-year reunion is right around the corner.

Even though my former classmates have not planned anything yet as far as when and where the reunion is going to be held, it is a small pit in my stomach and it has been there ever since I got out of high school. Of course I left the Red Hook area nearly five years ago to move to Herkimer County in the middle of the state of New York. I had nothing back there anyways, except for a job as a grocery store cashier at Stop and Shop in Rhinebeck, and if I went back there again, I probably still won’t.

Before I go on again about why I left, let me tell you a little bit about my high school life. It was during the mid-90’s, a time before cell phones and the Internet was still a novelty. I went through high school like I normally did: Doing my school work, pining after various girls, and so on. I almost went to the prom in my freshman year but the girl I asked had a date, but would consider me as an “alternate date” in case he could not get out of work. Of course, the other guy ended up going. In high school, we had only two dances every year: The Christmas Ball and the Senior Prom, as opposed to several dances when I was in Junior High. We had no homecoming back in my day. Since the two dances I mentioned above were formal dances and since they were very expensive and required couples, I ended up not going to any dances at all during my time in high school.

My sophomore year was uneventful, but things really picked up in my junior year. I considered that year to be the best year of my life. That year, I became the manager of my high school’s girls basketball team. At that time, they were the best in the area. My job mainly consisted of making sure that the girls had water, as well as keeping track of the team statistics; running the shot clock at home games; and taking care of the equipment. I had done so well that I came back as a manager during my final year of high school.

Also during the spring of my junior year, I went with my Spanish class on a trip to Puerto Rico. It was really fun. We went all around the island, including staying in San Juan for nearly a week. I also almost found love down there during my stay down in Parguera, a town famous for Phosphoescent Bay. At night, when you went out in a boat, you can see it glowing in the dark. I also learned how to play pool there. I had such a good time that when it was time to leave, I did not want to go back. However, I did come back to Red Hook, because if I didn’t, I would not be here today.

After I got back from Puerto Rico, I competed in my high school’s Lip Sync. I performed the Elvis Presley tune, “Jailhouse Rock” and I won a hundred dollars for my performance. I am not sure if that would qualify me for “American Idol,” but at least it was something that I could be proud of.

By the time I returned for my senior year, I had found something new to do. I decided to write a fictional book based on my experiences the year before. I called it “The Year of Opportunity.” However, I never got it published because by that time, I had graduated and went right into the work force when I was hired at Grand Union (a supermarket that later became Stop and Shop) in August, 1997.

Aside from the fact that I had returned as the manager of the girls’ basketball team, the fact that I was also writing a book, and the fact that I blew off my prom because noone wanted to go out with me, my senior year was uneventful, even up to the day that I got my high school diploma along with the rest of my class.

So much has happened since then. Since then, 9/11 happened. Then I left the area and moved to Herkimer County where I have been for the last four and a half years. That is also how long I have been working at Wal-Mart. Okay, so it isn’t really anything to brag to your classmates about. That is pretty much why I am not planning to go back to my reunion.

June 28 marks the tenth anniversary of the day that I graduated.