The Temple of Gloom…

13 04 2011

This past Summer I had the chance introduce one of my best friends, Bryan, to the finer things in life, Clatsop County style: friends, family, great food, and plenty of golf.  A lot has changed since I moved away, but some things are juuuust as I remember them.

Like this for example….

How is it that women in Clatsop County are willing to date or in some extreme cases marry someone who is at least two to three levels beneath them? (using a standard 1 to 10 scale 1 being the lowest, 10 the highest)  If you’re getting defensive right now, “shhhh it’s too late just take the hit”….  It’s almost as if there’s some bizarre variation of Stockholm Syndrome taking place.

If this phenomenon had a logo it would be Jesse James and Sandra Bullock.  Really?  Am I blowing the lid of such a well-kept secret?  Maybe its time to look beyond the smoke and mirrors.  It’s time to break the mold and quit looking for the “Mommy Relationship”.  You know, the one where you latch on to the first bad decision you can find, enter into a co-dependant relationship based on the premise that you can change this person.  Here’s some free advice, help yourself…. to a life of so much more than a squandered youth and a life of regret.


On Saturday night Bryan and I decided to take things to the next level.  I had just wrapped up a little get together at my dad’s with some good friends.  Word on the street was karaoke at the Labor Temple was the place to be.  Actually…. it was the only place still open… I should take a sentence or two to explain the Labor Temple.  The “Temple” is one of the oldest bars in town and actually transcends generations.  At every level in your family, someone has a story revolving around the labor temple.  Based on that fact, the Labor Temple may actually be the center of the Clatsop Universe.

So we jumped in the rented Toyota Corolla (double upgrade), popped in a custom-made CD and hit the road.  Did we sing a duet to Cher’s Believe in the car?  Maybe we did and maybe we didn’t.  I can assure you if we did, it would have been something pretty special, and angels would have wept.

As we pulled up in front of the Temple of Doom I immediately started thinking, “good lord… what am I doing here?”  Then, out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of something so incredibly sexy!  My pulse quickened, I had butterflies in my stomach, could it be?  This was exactly what I needed, one night only, no questions, no regrets.  “I’ll just wake up tomorrow and pretend like it didn’t happen.” I thought to myself.

My motto when you’re on vacation is anything goes.  Let’s be honest, at the end of the day when you’re an old man, all you’re left with are the memories…  Knowing this, Bryan realized what was about to go down – he’s been there for me in the past, in my moments of impaired judgment and weakness.

Without hesitation, like a member of the secret service, he did what any good friend would do.  He tried to stop me from making a huge mistake.  As he stepped between me and something I had desired with the red-hot passion of a thousand suns, he started to say, “Don’t do it”.  I quickly put my finger to his lips before he could finish, “shhh… I know you mean well … but this is a sign I simply can’t ignore.”  He closed his eyes thinking about what I had just said.  Then understanding the situation, he nodded and stepped aside, allowing me to gaze upon my prize…. The sign which told the whole story: “Breakfast After Midnight”.

Come on!  Really?  It’s the Labor Temple, get your mind out of the gutter!  (Authors Note: If you haven’t had the Taco Omelette from the labor temple after midnight…do it! Seriously do it right now, when you’re done, clean yourself off, leave $10 on the counter and just walk out.)


It’sbeen awhile since I’d been to the Temple and I must admit, I was excited, I could see my grand entrance now… I kick open the front door as fog rolls out onto the floor…Bryan on lead guitar, standing on a table, looking like Ted Nugent playing the intro to Stranglehold… while I walk in slow motion and point to random people in the crowd, flash bulbs going off–

Now here’s what actually happened… I opened the door and then, like a couple of jackasses, we sat there telling each other, “no you go first” “no after you” “no I insist”.  When I finally decided to go, I caught my shoe on the door mantle and did the three-step stutter trying not to face plant as if I just false started coming out of the blocks.   If there was any music in the background it should have been “Yakety Sax” by Boots Randolph (aka the Benny Hill theme song).

After a rocky start we gathered our bearings and settled into the bar with a couple of cocktails.  The night was going great; I was explaining the ins and outs of growing up in Warrenton/Astoria, while tone-deaf karaoke melodies filled the air.

Then what I can only describe as the most attractive girl we had seen all night walked into the bar.  Stunner, blonde hair, petite, nicely dressed (Bryan and I did the “hot hands” from SNL’s Schmitts Gay commercial).  Several minutes went by before I realized she was with her significant other who sat down next to us with herHer “man” – what a sad joke, three sheets to the wind and loud.  He proceeds to order a drink and toss the money at the bartender.  Now I’m pretty sure this is not acceptable bar etiquette when it’s all cash… and when there’s half a dozen coins mixed in, in my mind it’s an automatic eighty-six, thanks for playing.  To his credit he was able to slur out a “surry” and the bartender although obviously disgusted let it slide.  This is the type of pass you get when you come to the same place every night.

Quick re-cap: We’ve got a sober female who is a solid “9” (loss of full point for just a horrible choice in her boyfriend) and her man who is a “6”.  Think a cross between a shorter, homelier, and slightly retarded version of Corey Feldman and any X Games athlete.  For the next ten minutes he berates her and manages to work in some vintage name calling, all because she wants to go home Which got Bryan and I openly discussing at a reasonably loud volume how confused we were at what we were seeing.  Was it possible that this girls’ self-esteem was so low that she felt she needed to take this?  Was she unable to view the benefits of flash photography?  Just as we started to bat the idea around that she might have suffered some sort of head trauma, something amazing happened…. she got up and walked out!  I remember thinking, “good for you!” & “what took you so long”.

With the topic needing discussed further, I started to think back about how this was nothing new.  Through some sort of genetic anomaly there is a disproportionately large number of attractive women under a certain age in Clatsop County as compared to men.  Then at a certain age – which will remain a secret known only to me  – the scale slides hard the other way.  Now I’m not coming down on anybody for over achieving when it comes to a spouse or girlfriend, hell I’m probably guilty of that myself.  What irritates me is not respecting the situation.  Understand the only thing you bring to the table is a lifted 4×4 and substandard DNA.  Sorry I should have mentioned this earlier.  Women in Clatsop County are unknowingly attracted to KC lights, a 4 inch lift and Vanillaroma.  Unfortunately for the guys, that four inches only increases the height of the truck (..Debbie Downer..).

We finished up our breakfast and cocktails and walked outside, I looked at the sky took a deep breath, feeling a sense of pride for that girl.  It was as if a tragic circle of life in Clatsop County had been broken.  Maybe this would have some sort of butterfly effect on local women.  A ripple affect letting them know they didn’t have to settle for a lifetime of trying to work two jobs and collect child support.  There is a whole world beyond Napa and beyond Seaside.  Maybe she would go on to cure cancer, successfully bring peace to the Middle East, the possibilities were endless!  Bryan and I hopped in the Corolla (double upgrade) and fired it up, ready for our next quantum leap, to “right what once went wrong”. (That’s right, I just went Dr. Sam Becket)

Instead the headlights revealed this poor girl sitting on the sidewalk, with her back to the Labor Temple.  She had simply opted to go outside and wait for her future.  I wanted so badly to roll down the window and say, “look you don’t know me, but here’s what you need to do.  In the next 90 days save up as much money as you can and get the hell out of here.  Go someplace warm and figure it out when you get there.”  I had delusions of grandeur on being the next Harry Tubman, I could develop and underground railroad to PDX… Then I thought, “Is it my place to interfere with the circle of life?”

Bryan and I looked at each other, he put the CD to track 3… Bonnie Tyler… Holding out for a hero…Then like a streetwise Hercules who fights the rising odds, I rolled down my window and told her to get in the car if she wanted a new life.  She grabbed her purse and jumped in the back seat…

Oh wait, no, now I remember…. we left her there…  We had an 8 am tee time the next morning.  But all is not lost….

Ladies and gentlemen, in your mind, please sing along in your best Elton John voice:

From the day we arrive on the planet

And blinking, step into the sun

There’s more to see than can ever be seen

More to do than can ever be done

There’s far too much to take in here

More to find than can ever be found 

But the sun rolling high

Through the sapphire sky

Keeps great and small on the endless round

It’s the Circle of Life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our place

On the path unwinding

In the Circle

The Circle of Life

It’s the Circle of Life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our place

On the path unwinding

In the Circle

The Circle of Life




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