The best thing about summertime adventures? The party never stops! In the Sacramento area, there are literally scores of entertainment venues to get your party started and keep it going all night long. Live music, live theater, dancing, film festivals, fine arts—the adventure never ends, unless you want it to. For a complete listing of local entertainment every week, consult the calendar listing in your friendly neighborhood SN&R.
Footloose and fancy-free, you figured it would be easy to chart your summer’s course. No such luck. Determined to solve this conundrum, you pull up a stool at the Fox & Goose Pub and Restaurant and stare deeply into a long, dark pint of Guinness.
Nope. You just don’t have a clue.
You suck one pint down, then another. It’s Monday night, and the pub’s open mic is in full swing. The next amateur takes the stage and starts plucking on a beat-up six-string. You recognize the song: It’s Elvis Presley’s “Burning Love.” It’s not half-bad, and when the performer finishes with a windmill flourish worthy of Pete Townshend, the crowd goes nuts.
You’re quaffing down your third Guinness when it hits you.
“I could do that,” you say to no one in particular.
No one in particular hears you, either, so there’s no one to hold you to the statement other than your own bad self. Sure, you can play guitar. At one time, you coulda been a contender, a bona fide rock star. Maybe it’s not too late. Of course, that was years ago, and no one could blame you for dropping the idea and having another pint or three.
You’re standing inside the Blue Lamp, that cinder-block temple to loud music that once housed Club 400, where back in the day one could take a midday break from the office to go watch strippers and enjoy a “box lunch special.” Even today you can pick up the strip-club vibe if you’re sensitive—and you are, because the thought of hooking up with somebody new and hot is ever-present. Still, you’ve come here thinking that you’d rather shamble through a double bill of cowboy punk than risk having your ego crushed like a bug at one of the more obvious meat markets. So you’ve knocked back a few drinks and you’re kinda focused on the band. Nothing’s going to happen, and perhaps that’s all for the best. The music gets louder, the crowd gets thicker and presses into your space. Suddenly, you turn slightly. Your eyes lock with those of another, and—voila!—you meet the person of your dreams.
But here’s the deal: You’re shy. Woefully, painfully, embarrassingly shy. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Shy, and if you don’t lay off the sauce pronto, you’ll be turning into the former any second. But for you, the whole point of drinking, almost always to excess, is to overcome the latter. It’s a crazy little Catch 22 known as “alcoholism,” and it might have more than a little to do with the aforementioned “frying pan incident.” Are you powerless over alcohol? Has your life become unmanageable? There’s only one way to find out.
It worked. You kept your resolve and drew your boundaries, and now you have parted ways. The borrowed books, crappy CDs and sentimentally valuable vintage T-shirts have been returned to their rightful owners. True, they may well have been returned in shreds or in ashes, but that’s nothing a little shop therapy at Beers Books or Cuffs Urban Apparel can’t handle. And, in any case, it’s over. All told, that was easy. At least, that is, until it occurs to you that you hadn’t really planned past the breaking-up part.
So, now what?
As always, it’s not long before reflection becomes obsession. The thrill of the thrill being gone is gone. Why was it so easy, exactly? Though you initiated it, you are not taking the breakup well. All those cute, blooming, single-seeming folks you noticed at the onset of spring have withered out of cuteness or coupled off by now, and your friends are seeming awfully coupley, too. It doesn’t help that their support for you has somehow evaporated into smug, unspoken pity. Meanwhile, you find yourself slinking around town avoiding your ex. When did this city get so small, anyway? No, whether it’s solitary walks around the duck pond in Sutter’s Fort State Park or dozing off at the Downtown Plaza food court, the quiet summer evenings alone aren’t quite working for you.
Yep, that was the love of your life, you idiot. And you squandered it.
And so you find yourself stalking your ex. First driving by, then lurking outside the apartment to see when they come home on those weekend nights—and whether alone or not. You publish, however furtively, a howl of regret in the Eye Spy section of SN&R’s personals. Something has to give.
The road to inner peace, as it turns out, runs straight through Arden-Arcade, where you find the Shanti Yoga Studio on Howe Avenue. Shanti is Sanskrit for peace, so you know you’re on the correct, not to mention highly affordable, path. For just 30 bucks, you spend the next 30 days performing sun salutations and curling up like a baby.
Soon, you learn the secret to meditation is letting go, to cease struggling. The trick to hearing the voice inside your head is to not listen for it. And eventually it comes, on day 29, while you’re lying in corpse pose after a particularly invigorating round of Hatha yoga. “Before you’ve practiced, the theory is useless,” the little voice says. “After you’ve practiced, the theory is obvious.”
Holy crap! What can it all mean?
“Obviously, it means you need more practice,” your instructor informs. “You must now go on a purifying retreat.”
Welcome to recovery central. Any number of things could have brought you here, most of them involving excess.
Maybe a spiritual quest has gone awry, or you’ve become so despondent about your wasted life and what could have been—"It’s not fair, why Avril Lavigne and not me?"—that you descended into a nightmare world of heavy boozing and lethally dangerous sexual encounters.
Perhaps you’re here by order of the court, after you screamed out of Pine Cove Bottle Shop in your automobile, waving a bottle of “Co-vauth-ee-ay!” out the window, right in front of the patrol car parked just around the corner. You blew a .22 into the fucked-up-o-meter, and now you’re $10,000 lighter (fines plus attorney fees) and without a driver’s license for the next year (it was your second offense, nooge).
Or it could be that in your passive-aggressive efforts to drive a past lover away via gluttonous, round-the-clock drinking at the Monte Carlo Club, you’ve crossed the line, forgetting that when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you.
Whatever the reason, you need help, and fortunately there’s no shortage of it here in Sacramento. Finding it is as simple as letting your fingers do the walking, through the yellow and business pages of the phone or via Google, for a listing of the numerous 12-step programs that are available, free of charge. (Here’s a hint for most of you: start looking in the As.)
If money is no object or you’re covered by insurance, there are a variety of treatment centers available. That’s one way to get away this summer, and it could do you some good. Maybe it’s time you put away childish things. OK, so you didn’t make it as a musician. You still know how to play, and so do your newly recovering friends. Perhaps you can hold an impromptu treatment-center hootenanny. Who knows? Maybe sometime during the third chorus of “Cecilia,” you’ll discover you’re living the summer you’ve always dreamed about.
You’re at Faces on a Saturday night. How you wound up at Sacramento’s premier gay dance club is not important. Perhaps you are gay or lesbian. Maybe you’re looking to swing. Could be that you’re with someone new and you want to impress them with your dancing prowess. Or maybe you’re just here for the show: the bright lights, the thumping music, the glittering people.
The important thing is that you’re here.
You need to ease into the scene, so you slink upstairs to observe the grinding and grooving on the dance floor below. You see raging queens, meat-packing studs, tantalizing twinks, lipstick lesbians, downtown divas, sweet transvestites, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Is that the Ginch Gonch Boys?
You’re inextricably drawn into the thrusting, swirling fray below. The sexually charged atmosphere has a musky smell to it. The dancers you rub against are hot and moist. Genders blur in the crush of bodies: are you a woman or a man? Straight or gay? Bi-curious?
Does it matter?
Did someone put something in your drink?
You and your partner dance the night away. At closing time, there’s only one way to put it: You are both hornier than hell—and so are the new friends you’ve met. Maybe the four of you go home together. Maybe you don’t. Whatever. Your ultimate summer adventure is just a kiss away.
Guitar lessons at the Fifth String? $300. Brand-spanking new Martin D-28 Marquis? $3899. Plaid bondage jeans and Misfits T-shirt? $69. Your debut night at the True Love Coffeehouse‘s open-mic night? Priceless.
The place is packed, mainly because you’ve invited all of your friends and family members to witness what is bound to be the pivotal moment of your life. You’ve spent most of the summer working on a tightly honed set of three original songs. Your guitar is in perfect tune. Your rock ‘n’ roll hair is expertly coiffed. The performer preceding you finishes, leaves the stage and you step into the spotlight.
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for, your chance to seize your rightful place in the sun.
And you totally freeze.
Your fingers feel as short, stumpy and lifeless as Vienna sausages. They are incapable of forming a chord, even if you could remember the opening notes of your first song, which you can’t, because your mind has gone blanker than a sheet of wallboard.
“Uh … err … umm,” you murmur.
The faces of friends and family members stare up in anxious anticipation. “C’mon, you can do it,” your mom mouths. Your dad’s just grimacing. So are all of your friends. Some people in the back get up to leave.
“Don’t go,” you implore.
“You stink!” they yell.
You catch a whiff of something that smells like cat urine and realize it’s coming from you. You’re dizzy and bathed in sweat. Your eyes roll back in your head and the last thing you think before slipping into unconsciousness and hitting the deck is how the heck could you have ever forgotten that you suffer from near-terminal stage fright.
The place has cleaned out when you come to. Not even your parents have stuck around. You wanted to go it alone, and you have to admit you’ve reached your goal. You’ve never felt more alone in your life. When you get home, you log on to SN&R’s Web site and go to the classified section, where you type in an ad.
“For sale: One Martin D-28 Marquis, slightly used, price negotiable.”
Choose another adventure.