By Chuck Strouse
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Lucas is a ponytailed 34-year-old wearing a black T-shirt and a red bandanna around his head. He takes a long look at a jet-black inkblot that's skinny on top and fans out at the bottom and then proclaims, "It's a crab holding pompoms."
As he swirls a plastic cup containing tiny slivers of ice, whiskey, and a whole lot of water, I show him another Rorschach card. He slams his drink in one long gulp.
"That one is definitely a cello," he says. "Do you like Jell-O? I've always wanted to have sex in a bathtub full of Jell-O."
Without missing a beat, he walks over to a front area that's decorated with a stop sign and an American flag. He grabs a mike and howls the lyrics to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird."
Ick. I hate karaoke. And this loon you cannot change.
Nevertheless, I've come to Seven Seas (2200 Red Rd., Miami; 305-266-6071) with a psychological inkblot test of about ten drawings that I downloaded from a site called deltabravo.net.
This is the perfect place to test for crazy clientele. The kitschy, Hemingway-inspired dive is covered in buoys, mounted fish, stuffed parrots, and mermaid busts. A random part of the ceiling is plastered with about 40 unmatched shoes and sandals ranging in color from pink to green to sky blue.
I don't have a fancy PhD, but I've watched a couple of episodes of Frasier, so I'm more than qualified to interpret a tall blonde named Renee's response to a card with two identical shapes that face each other.
"It looks like what the Coneheads did to have sex," says the 24-year-old, who's wearing loud, dangling, heavily beaded earrings. "All they're missing is that weird Christmas tassel-looking crown thing they wore around their heads. And maybe a Subway sub they can eat in two seconds... or was that foreplay?"
Has she ever witnessed sex and then regretted taking in the show?
"Yeah," she says solemnly as a blond corkscrew curl goes limp. "I once accidentally watched a porn starring my parents. I used to like to snoop around my dad's closet when he wasn't home and once found this unlabeled videotape and decided to watch it... I wish I hadn't."
It was interesting, then, that no more than a half-hour later, Renee was up front drunkenly singing the lyrics to the Divinyls' "I Touch Myself."
OK, so maybe she just has an everyday Electra complex. So I move on to a good-looking but lanky hipster type who has just finished off a monotone rendition of Billy Idol's "Eyes Without a Face."
Andy is sporting a gray fedora. A handful of tattoos peek out from beneath his rolled-up long-sleeve red plaid shirt. He ponders a black splatter similar to the one I showed Renee.
"It's two naked women, in love, putting their hands in pots and making guacamole for the tribe. It's all very primitive."
I ask him about the most primitive thing he's ever done. "Breaking a foosball table, in Prague when I was drunk, with a chair because it wouldn't give me the ball after I paid two bucks."
On the lush back patio, parasols shade tables, and broken toilets serve as chairs. Before I can pop a squat, I'm greeted by Carlos, a tan Cuban with deep-set eyes and close-cropped silver hair. We exchange a few words, he in broken English, me in broken Spanish. Maybe there was something lost in translation, because instead of telling me what he sees in an inkblot, he offers a key bump with enough snow to blanket Aspen.
Before I can partake, Holly approaches. The boobalicious 24-year-old, with big lips, blue eyes, and a body that looks great in skinny jeans, pinches a nostril and clears the key without uttering a word.
Does she know Carlos?
"Never met him before," Holly says, sniffling.
Sanity? Try Brian and Jen, a couple of regulars. Brian, a husky blond rocker in his mid-20s whom I watched sing Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me," eyes a Rorschach and responds, "That looks like a guy with a giant..." Then he points out both heads, "and see, right there are his feet."
Another inkblot card, says Brian's cute brunet girlfriend Jen, "looks like the Eiffel Tower." She's rocking a denim miniskirt, boots, a long tube top, lots of eye makeup, and a studded belt. "I mean, like the sex position. See, there's the girl on all fours and two guys on either side of her, giving each other a high-five."
I like these two, so I fess up. I'm testing the sanity of karaoke lovers.
"It's fun!" Jen says. "You should sing something yourself."
"Don't knock it till you've tried it," Brian adds.
OK, OK. I walk back inside the bar and spot Janelle, a petite, sweet-looking 22-year-old with a short, fem pixie haircut. She's piping out her third song of the night, "Zombie" by the Cranberries.
This time I decide to administer an oral test: "Have you ever done anything you thought you should be committed for doing?"
"I dated this guy for a month and we had a very intense relationship. While we were dating, he came over to my house and asked me to start writing him a book. I did what he asked and wrote or drew him something every day until his birthday... in my own blood."