One night, I decided to stay in the down-town area longer than I normally would. I had pulled into a massive car-park in order to visit my favourite oyster bar, where you could buy a dozen oysters, a snow-crab main course and a huge pitcher of beer for about $5.
As I started to park, an enormous black man in a sharp suit walked over from the 'Caesar's Palace' style casino. Strapped to his waist was a holster which obviously contained a large calibre pistol, the pearl-handle of which could be seen poking out of the top. Despite this, he was not at all menacing.
"Is it your intention to visit The Palace tonight, Sir?"
I replied that I was going to the Oyster Bar.
"May I then politely request that you use their car-park, which you will find just over there?"
My God - this guy was a parking attendant. He had more tangible authority than most modern British policemen.
Finishing my meal, I did what everyone else seemed to do around there (apart from British tourists, with which the streets were teeming) and drive to the next venue. The place that had caught my eye was a large Bar/Hotel/Casino, that looked like it belonged to Donald Trump. On the glittering bill-board outside, it announced that this night was Karaoke night - I was in luck.
Inside the bar, I joined a group of bored looking American tourists and looked out over the floor at the harlequin mix of visitors who were sitting at tables and sipping from enormous, brightly coloured cocktails.
A man in full tuxedo walked up to the microphone, and at first I mistook him for an employee of the establishment, but no - he was obviously on holiday on his own, and just wanted to sing a Frank Sinatra tune. The bored looking operator programmed the machine with his chosen ditty, which was 'New York New York'. I remember thinking how brave he was to attempt this classic. Then he started singing.
Words cannot describe how absolutely bloody awful he was, and everyone at the bar looked at each other, slowly dying with embarrassment. The hardened Northern men looked at me with those long, conspiratorial stares that just say, 'I share your pain'.
I had forgotten how long that song actually is, but Frank up on stage knew it all, word for word. If he ever hit one right note, it was by pure accident, but there are so many of them, that it was inevitable that he should hit at least one during the course of the rendition. He had also made the mistake of attempting the famous Sinatra phrasing of the song, and he got that wildly wrong as well, so not only were there discordant, predominantly flat sounding string of seemingly meaningless lyrics, but they were all in the wrong place to boot.
At last, the song came to an end and we all breathed a sigh of relief - but not for long. The man was living the dream. He climbed down off the stage, taking the microphone with him, began circulating amongst the tables as if he were an ordinary, mortal performer, and asking random women random questions like, "Is this your first visit to Orlando, Ma'am?" and "I must say you are looking extremely pretty tonight - your husband is a very luck man" etc. etc.
It became obvious that this man - in his own head - had morphed into Frank Sinatra, and was patently mentally ill.
At last, the management could stand it no longer, and attempted to put us out of our misery by trying to wrestle the microphone away from the wannabe Frank. He was not going without a fight, however, and the whole thing descended into an unseemly struggle which was finally settled by one of the doormen coming over and bodily ejecting Frank from the premises.
Orlando - where your dreams come true!
to be continued...