But no! Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is never playing in the bar, and Heather Graham is never sitting alone, just waiting to get talked to.
I’ve noticed that a recurring theme on this blog is the fact that many things civilized society does for fun are in some way excruciatingly difficult, unpleasant, and/or aggravating for me.
Think about it: Have you ever engaged in a recreational activity that involves crowds, loud noises, inadequate seating, soccer, unsanitary bathrooms, or lines, just to name a few? Chances are, were I there with you, I’d be in a quiet, contemplative state, observing and cataloguing the things I was hating about this experience in preparation for my next blog.
All the negative characteristics I described above apply in triplicate to bars, with my ultimate pet peeve, spending lots of money on stuff that should be cheap, thrown in for good measure. Somehow, though, in one of those great contradictions that presumably make this blog so interesting, I actually like bars.
Well, no – I like the idea of bars. I like the thought of a clean, well lit place, one where you can go and have a few drinks and chat with your friends. Cheers from Cheers comes to mind: A place where everybody has fun and engages in snappy dialogue and hijinx with occasional spinoffs.
If you’ve been to a bar in a big city recently, though, you probably know that my dream died long ago. Oppressively crowded, bereft of seating, music (possibly dubstep*) blasting loud enough to obliterate any chance of conversation or rational thought – this is the bar scene we have today. I mean, it’s really a shock to me that so many people hook up in bars, because it’s basically impossible to communicate in there aside from grunting, pointing, and rubbing your crotch on things.
*In case you were looking for the official Hair Guy verdict on this dubstep thing, here it is: Dubstep sucks. It aggressively, in-your-face sucks in ways that scientists had heretofore not known existed, and in five years the whole of mankind is going to be laughing at you for liking it, because you liked a thing that sucked.
I knew, moving to LA, that the delightful Taco Tuesdays my friends and I had at Taylor’s were a thing of the past. For me and my friends, going to the bar was a fun thing we did to unwind and tell jokes about porn. In LA, going to the bar is an event, one so important that it’s worthy of italics.
My roommates invited me out with them and their friends last night, and, because I like my roommates and wanted to be sociable, I went along. (In a rare burst of social media savvy, I “live Tweeted” the event on my “cellular telephone”, which you can find on my “Twitter feed” here.)
From the get go I knew this thing was fucked since Jumpstreet. We were young people going to a bar in Los Angeles, probably the trendiest, most pretentious city in the world after Portland – this is generally not a recipe for Truman having a great time.
The line for the bar snaked out the door, down the stairs, through a plaza full of closed boutique shops, and out to the street. The people in line were clad in designer jeans and Ed Hardy shirts; gel had been employed to make their hair pointier. My party waited amicably, inching closer and closer to the door to the bar – a gaping portal into an ominous, black void, punctuated by purple strobe lights and accompanied by a constant thumping beat.
Presently, my roommates disappeared. As I found out from them the next morning, they had goneto the front of the line and cozied up to some of the women there or slipped past the bouncers in order to get into the bar right away. This, apparently, is common practice on the LA bar scene. Try it at Space Mountain and you’ll get shitrocked by an overweight CPA from Terre Haute.
My roommates’ friends ultimately gave up on this bar and struck out in favor of another place down the street, and I – faced with the option of waiting in line alone to descend into my own personal Hell or go with other people to find a different personal Hell – went with them. We settled on an Irish pub called O’Brien’s, and as an ardent Team Coco member, I went in.
Everything was relatively dandy. Sure, it was crowded, but it wasn’t too noisy, and if you stood near the bar it was easy enough to get a drink without having to wait forever. I had some enlightening conversation with my roommates’ friends and had two drinks that cost a combined total of $21, because even though the liquor at stores is cheaper in California, the drinks cost more, perhaps because I’m being Punk’d or something.
By 1:00 AM, though, I decided that I was pretty wiped and wanted to go home. However, my roommates’ friends wanted to stay and my roommates – the ones who had driven me – were still in the other bar. So, thanks in part to $21 worth of alcohol, I decided that I’d just walk home.
My reasoning was this: I walked home from bars all the time in Eugene, and I knew that we were in Santa Monica, which is right next to Culver City. My reasoning was flawed because Los Angeles is somewhat larger than Eugene, and also is mostly unfamiliar to me. And as I found out, while Santa Monica is indeed right next to Culver City, that distance looks way more walkable on a map.
I marched off in what I thought was the direction of my apartment, planning to find a cross street I recognized and walk down it until I was home. Half an hour later I found myself trudging up a deserted suburban street, passing cross street I didn’t recognize after cross street I didn’t recognize.
Culver City is not a dangerous place. If you wanted to get murdered here, you’d have to call a murderer in Compton and pay him gas money to drive out here and kill you. That being said, wandering down deserted streets with no idea where I was, all I could think about was what the description of my death would look like on a serial killer’s Wikipedia page:
Stephens’ eighth victim, Truman Capps (22), had left a bar alone and gotten lost while trying to walk home. His body parts were found in the following counties…
Fearful of this outcome, I began “live Tweeting” my location every couple of blocks and left a voicemail message stating my whereabouts to a friend, just so the police would have something to work with in the event that I did get serial killed. Instead, I called a cab and a mute, humorless taxi driver picked me up and drove me home – as it turns out, I was exactly $15 away from my apartment.
I’m glad that I went out last night – I met some cool people and, equally importantly, I gave the trendy bar scene a shot rather than just avoiding it altogether based on my preconceived notions. Experience proves that my preconceived notions were correct, but hey – at least I got a blog update out of the deal.
Truman Capps considers getting lost in the suburbs to be his own personal ‘127 Hours’.