Best path to rejuvenation

Pool hopping, playground loitering and other remnants of juvenile delinquency


It seems like just yesterday I was skipping off to kindergarten— a tiny cherub of a boy, 6 years old with a glistening bowl cut, a potbelly stuffed with cupcakes and a head full of mischief.

Well, that certainly didn’t last long.

Here I am, 27 years later, slumping off to work with a shaved head, a gut stuffed with meatballs and a head full of smog. Unsightly? You bet. Gross? Totally!

I’m not a cowboy. Nor am I a crime fighter. I’m not even a stupid veterinarian. What the hell went wrong? Let’s rewind for a second and take a look at what happened to all those dreams that burned quicker than a West Sac meth lab.

“I wouldn’t do anything different!” I’ve heard people say. Pssshht! Get real. I want it all back. Hear that, God? Everything—from the time I kicked Anton “the Angry Russian” Kramer in his rotten teeth to my introductory sexual experience in a utility shed. (Actually, no. I’ll keep the utility shed, but you can have the Russian.)

As you age, crisp idealisms like “I want to change the world with my love when I get older” are dragged through the mud as you trudge to work every day for your paycheck. Murky and tired, that earnest and wholesome plea for love somehow becomes “I’m gonna blacken your eye with my fist if you keep lookin’ at me funny.”

But along with the bitterness, age brings the realization that there’s no use fighing Mother Nature. To live a life worth living, you’ve got to give yoursef a break and utilize every minute without worry or inhibition.

With this thought trembling in my brain like a newborn bluebird, I put on my bathing suit, grab a towel and head to the swimming pool. However, a lifetime of bad decisions, gross financial mismanagement and extreme gluttony has left me poor and, of course, without a pool to speak of. So, the next best thing is to “borrow” other people’s water holes for a day. Pool hopping: It’s no spiritual enlightenment, nor is it the fountain of youth, but it’s certainly a start.

If you drive down J Street toward CSUS, you begin to realize that each diverging street by the college contains a wealth of student-friendly apartments. Pick one. Any one. Not only do they have pools, but they have young drunkards who couldn’t care less whether or not you actually live there. To be surrounded by students, beer and sun is the perfect cure for old age.

“Hey man, can you open the gate?” I ask the kid with his drink in a beer cozy.

“It should be open,” he says. Up close, he doesn’t look more than 19.

I made it, I think, plunking down on a recliner where I’ll spend the rest of the day under the blazing sun.

Watching a pair of lovebirds drink Natty Ice and pick wedgies from their swimsuits, I try to think of other things I can do to release the beast of youth, and I immediately think of the Glory Hole.

No, you sick bastard, not that kind. The one I’m talking about is at Lake Berryessa, the full pipe that acts as a skateboarding mecca for some and a fountain of youth for others. It’s a Goonies-style adventure just getting there (search Davis Wiki for clues). There’s some hiking and even a flotation device involved, but it’s well worth the trouble.

If you make it, you’ll be treated to a concrete loop with tons of transition, which means when you ride it, you feel at once like you’re flying and you’re going to die. It’s perfect for the aged skater because there’s no technical trickery involved. It’s just a trip down memory lane using old-school carving and guts. If you have slightest bit of soul and a little bit of courage, you’ll feel like you’re in diapers again. Weee!

“Excuse me.”

It’s security! I try my best to look like someone who lives at an apartment with a pool.

“Do you have a light, bro?”

Phew. Thank God, it’s just a college kid and his youthful thirst for a cigarette.

“Sorry, bro. Don’t smoke,” I say, trying to think of places closer to Sacramento that I can let my inner man-child wander.

Emilio Raya offers a taste of Candy Heaven.

Photo By Anne Stokes

Well, there’s always swinging. No, you sick bastard! I mean, go find a swing set—there is a good one at Southside Park at Sixth and U streets. It sounds stupid, but if you haven’t been swinging lately, there’s nothing more exciting. I promise. The scene reeks of some kind of spiritual awakening, plus it’s quite fun. There’s something ultimately freeing about a grown man on a swing set.

Warning: Try not to smile with even the slightest hint of sexual innuendo; you don’t want to look like the guy who’s just hanging around a swing set looking lusty. You might end up on the wrong list, if you know what I’m saying.

And speaking of lust, there’s another thing you can do to reach back into the softness of youth that’s much less active. Taffy. And not just taffy, but Candy Heaven taffy. Sifting through the giant buckets of taffy at Candy Heaven in Old Sacramento is like getting VIP tickets to Willy Wonka’s factory. Remember the feeling of skipping home from school with a pocket full of chocolate and a mouth full of Big League Chew? That’s the sweet nausea of youth.

Come to think of it, there are tons of youthful activities in Sacramento. I could head to the zoo and trip out on the snakes, go to R5 Records on 16th and Broadway and buy a Cindy Lauper CD, fix my bike at the Bicycle Kitchen in Oak Park or go to R/C Country Hobbies on Folsom Boulevard and buy a kite.

As I lie next to the pool, cement burning a red splotchy pattern into my back, my mind inevitably drifts from youthful activities to reflections upon my own childhood: the bloody noses, the horrible grades, the suspensions from school, the striving to fit in, the redheaded girl who bit me on the face.

You know, maybe old age isn’t something to fight. While it’s perfectly admirable to reclaim youth, it’s divine to age gracefully. It reminds me of something Mike Farrell, guitarist for Th’ Losin Streaks, once said about the days when he didn’t think he had long to live. “Songs became like a fountain of youth,” he said. What I think he meant was: Do what you do best and do a lot of it.

And with that, I get up and run to the pool like a wild and aimless turkey. Using momentum and the strength of a puma, I jump into the air, forming a perfect cannonball. The space in between concrete and water is filled with anticipation. The anxiousness of youth and the nerves of age suspend me momentarily before my body hits the water.

The splash, noteworthy and immense, soaks any adolescent even remotely close to the pool. Their groans of surprise, horror and disgust speak to me: “We feel the cold spray of your 30-something wrath and we don’t appreciate it,” they say.

Heh. Punks.