Participation Award

Robot Brain

You’re not as messed up as you think you are
Your self-absorption makes you messier.
Just settle down and you would feel a whole lot better.
Deep down you’re just like everybody else.
She’s not as pretty as she thinks she is
Just picture her after she’s had kids.
I bet she sits at home and listens to The Smiths.
Deep down she’s just like everybody else.

Frank Turner “Reasons not to be an Idiot”

Last week I planned on easing myself out of my comfort zone by attending a low pressure social gathering. Each Wednesday at Hampton Beach they have a free concert followed by a fireworks display. No big name bands, but hey, you get what you pay for. My plan was thwarted by a flat tire on my bicycle.

This week I thought I would try again but the forecast called for rain yesterday (Wednesday). I checked the town website and to my surprise they have a live band every night, the fireworks are only included on Wednesday. Everything about Tuesday said get up off your ass and go outside. It was going to be perfect weather again all day and night. The band scheduled for Tuesday was called, “Chippy and the Ya Ya’s”. That sounded pretty funny but it got funnier. I looked them up on YouTube and saw they are a local bar band. In fact, the video posted was from a show at Shooter’s Pub back in 2015. Too funny! That is the sport’s bar I sometimes went to when I lived in Exeter. The song was Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Barry. Ha Ha, One of the first songs I learned to play on guitar. They were playing on the outdoor stage behind the bar. I got a good laugh out of the video watching one woman dancing by herself until a drunk guy kind of danced up to her still holding his beer, thinking he was going to turn it into a situation. The woman kept looking of camera, I presume to her friends to save her.

Was this what I was going to do on a Tuesday night? I guess the fuck so, because my only other option was to sit home and wish I wasn’t sitting at home. Onward and upward. I got there on time at 7pm. There was a pretty good crowd of maybe 100 sitting on the rows of wooden benches. The first thing I noticed was it was mostly old couples sitting together. The rest of the crowd mostly consisted of 3 generations of family members. Grandma/Grandpa, Mom/Dad, Young kids. I was one of the few people there alone. I stood in the back near Ocean Blvd. The next thing I noticed was the place was pretty dead. I know it was Tuesday night but when I was a kid it was always bumper to bumper traffic and wall to wall people walking. I realized I had not been here at night in many years. I guess the old folks concert was the happening.

I guessed right from seeing the band’s Chuck Barry cover. They were a Classic Rock cover band. That was funny because half their set list was songs I used to play when I was in a bar band. But I was just a kid back then. Now these songs are really classic! I guess you have to play to the crowd. They were pretty good for a cover band, I just kept thinking what if I was still playing the same songs for 30 years? Still better than sitting home.

I felt pretty good. I wasn’t uncomfortable and I didn’t have any anxiety. I was a little disappointed that it was 98% old people. But I did expect that after checking out a few of the other bands on the schedule from the summer. One thing I couldn’t figure out was the parking spaces around the area were filled but where the hell was everyone? The band took a half hour break and a lot of people took off for a walk. Myself included. All the bars were dead. Even the one directly across the street from the band on the second level designed for the situation. The most action was at a tiny bar maybe 10 feet wide and 75 feet long. It was packed. I read the schedule posted on the outside wall and it was bingo and $5 Jim Beam drinks night. I have to admit, I thought about it.

I went back for the second set and only about half the crowd returned. I was a little disappointed. It was only 8:30pm. I think I was hoping to at least talk to one person. I wasn’t feeling extremely social but I made the effort to get around people. Everyone was doing their own thing. Me too, I guess. I stuck around for about 15 more minutes but the band started playing some god awful old tunes I would be embarrassed to play.

I am thinking about trying again on the weekend. It is Labor Day holiday and they are promising they saved the best for last when it comes to fireworks shows. From what I saw on YouTube the bands are not promising to get any better. I am surprised. The beach used to be a popular destination at night. Maybe it was just a Tuesday thing.

Now I am in a quandary. I don’t want to sit around all weekend but what if the beach is just as dead Friday night? Sunday is the fireworks. I really enjoy that and there doesn’t have to be many people around. There should be though. Last day of summer?

My other option is Salisbury Beach across the border in Massachusetts. That place has been dead since I was a kid. I went by in the spring and the little strip looked like a war zone. I was wondering if they were still allowing people to visit. Every few years some company comes up with the bright idea to throw a lot of money in and build a new bar. The most successful is Ten’s Show Club. It has been there for about twenty years and keeps getting upgraded. I went in after it was first built and it was rather large with one big stage, a large bar, and a fair collection of dancers. Now it has an addition built on that is larger than the original building and they also added a second level. It still looks like it is a new place. I can’t figure out why they decided to locate in Salisbury. Almost every other building in town is decrepit and about to fall down. Fun fact: The built Ten’s Show Club on the land where The Bowery was originally located. That was the diviest of the dive bars at Salisbury Beach when I was a child. It was also the original “strip club.” Although it wasn’t officially sanctioned. It was a bar in the front and had an unmarked door that led to a room in the back with one dancer/prostitute. I didn’t figure out her second job until years later. Fun fact #2: My aunt was a well known bartender at the Bowery and my mom used to bring us kids down there so she could get shitfaced on drinks bought for her by horny old men. We learned that if we went inside and started telling mom we wanted to go home, the current suitor would hand us a ten spot to go spend at the arcade. Ten buck bought us a lot of pinball time.

The only other acceptable location is the SurfSide Restaurant and Bar. The newest corporate venture in town. It is a huge building supported on wooden pylons to keep it above water during high tide. It was already old when I was a kid but they remodeled it and made it look new again. I learned about it during my Google search for things to do. This week I discovered there are two singles groups from meetup.com having events there. One of them has about 1500 members with about 40 saying they are attending. It is a private group. Which means they give you limited information unless you join and to join you have to answer their questions and sound like you are serious about making a commitment, I guess. I don’t know, I didn’t join, it sounds pretentious. The other group was created by a woman in Nashua, NH, which is one of the few towns in the state that passes for a “city”. It has about 300 members with only two saying they are going so far. The creator of the group and… You guessed it. Yours truly.

I don’t know if I will actually follow through but I think she would be a lot more fun to hang out with than anyone from the “exclusive” group. My fantasy is I can go into a bar and not drink. Somewhat closer to reality is I get hammered and end up stranded in Salisbury late night. I also have the same Uber situation as last time. But even less than a snowball’s chance in hell of getting them to pick me up and bring me home.

The safe bet is spending Labor Day weekend with the octogenarians in Hampton. At least it will be free.

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