Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mitch Sings Kiss and Say Goodbye by The Manhattans

It was at one of those soul-sucking holiday parties 
that we first heard him sing, our squat, hirsute co-worker,
waddling along the corridors with his Swiffer,
rump bulging like a pumpkin in his Dickies.
He was reticent about his personal life, we knew only 
that he was a purveyor of Miller High Life and Perry Mason.
For that year’s party, the company rented a space
in the basement of an old bank, next to the old vault.
They set up a karaoke machine next to the pile
of white elephant gifts, and he took the microphone
and sang not one, not two, but three songs by Styx.
We were all stunned. There he was,
this odd little man, belting out these terrible 
soft-rock hits in the most angelic falsetto. 
We were all completely smitten, and while we did
laugh amongst ourselves, we were secretly 
genuinely impressed, moved even, and from then on 
would try to get him to sing on the job, but he never would.
Then the other day we were all down in the lunch room
and one of the Mexican girls was talking about 
old soul music, and there was one song in particular 
she loved but didn’t know the name of.
She played it for us on her phone, and suddenly 
he was singing along, standing in front of
the bulletin board with the job postings and safety notices,
belting it out, and the Mexican girls and I
sat around the table mesmerized, applauding
when he finished. He smiled and blushed and shuffled off 
to clock back in, to return to polishing 
and mopping and taking out the garbage 
and refilling the empty toilet paper dispensers
in silence, perhaps humming to himself
when no one else was around.

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