I Won The 1987 Tokyo Karaoke World Championship, Six Year Old Division, & All I Got Was This Lousy, Grossly Ill-Fitting T-Shirt.

Grossly ill-fitting for most; why the organizers would choose to bestow as their Grand Prize a man-sized large commemorative T-shirt, I'll never know.

Mom, actually, was the first to discover my propensity for singing along to popular music of the times, as well as nostalgic old-time favorites from the likes of Motown, Disco, Southern Classic Rock about the state of Alabama, and even Grand Ol' Opry staples. My first official live performance was a duet with my mother, who was commissioned to sing the wedding standard "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship for her sister-in-law's wedding. Fortunately, both sides of the aisle looked past the inappropriate oedipal leanings in our impassioned performance immediately preceeding the nuptials and saw my natural ability to carry a tune over reconstructed, white-bread, similar-sounding music.

The only thing I was missing was The Look. Like I said before, to a normal six year old, a man's large T-shirt would dangle damn near to the ground. But, to a six year old with a severe case of gigantism - my pituitary gland produced enough TSH to spur the growth of 72 thyroid glands, a world record according to leading scientists in the field of Abnormalities In Children - the T-shirt I'd go on to win would fit just right. Unfortunately, my mom was expecting the All-Expenses-Paid University Education she thought she was promised.

Needless to say, I proceeded to upstage my aunt at her own wedding with my half of the performance - five minutes of standing ovation from my Sunday's Best-clad family members, whose idea of formal wedding garb consisted of last Christmas's sweater from Grandma on top of acid-wash jeans, sure left her face red - and it would later be suggested that I try my hand at going on the hit television sensation Star Search. Alas, politics and Ed McMahon's lying whiskey-soaked assurances from within his velvet-adorned Inner Office prevented my televised big break.

It appeared as if my career as a singer of other people's songs would climax right there at the tender age of six. Then one day, while holding my mom's hand as we crossed the street, a record executive from Atlantic heard me singing "Party All The Time" and told me that I sang just like a "White Eddie Murphy." It still is the greatest compliment anyone has ever bestowed upon me. Mr. Jake F. Talons was his name - I still have the embossed business card in my wallet to this day - and he told my mother and I that if I won that year's Tokyo Karaoke World Championship, he'd give me a recording contract on the spot!

My mom scrimped and saved, working 12-hour days at Sea Galley, and in three short months finally had the money to pay for my ticket and two-night stay in Tokyo, Japan. Unfortunately, this meant I would be going unescorted, but as I soon discovered, Tokyo, Japan isn't all that difficult to maneuver when you're a six year old with gigantism.

I knew I had one chance at the crown, so I went in and did the song I was most comfortable with: "You Give Love A Bad Name" by Bon Jovi. 14,000 spectators went absolutely bonkers in Budokan Hall that October evening; I was a unanimous victor by the five judges. Unfortunately, my triumph was tainted when my steroids-analysis test revealed that I was, indeed, a six year old with gigantism (apparently, this was a fact my mother failed to mention on the application for the Tokyo Karaoke World Championship). I was summarily stripped of my title - as the contest I participated in was strictly for those over the age of nine - and offered the opportunity to sing in the six year old division. Again, I won in a landslide.

Apparently, word of my disgrace got back to Mr. Jake F. Talons, who presumed to renege on his verbal contract. In a Top 10 list on his highly acclaimed Late Night talk show, David Letterman put a picture of me as Number 3 under the topic, "Top Ten Reasons To Not Let Your Six Year Old With Gigantism Sing In The Tokyo Karaoke World Championship." And, with that, I knew it was time to officially declare my retirement from Amateur Karaoke Singing.

I still have and wear the T-shirt to this day; it reminds me of a time when I used to be an exceptional singer with freakish looks. And, whenever anyone ever asks if I am, indeed, the 1987 Tokyo Karaoke World Champion, I look them squarely in the eyes with a deep breath of complete satisfaction and I tell them, "Why yes, and no thanks to that lying skunk of a rat Ed McMahon either!"