Finding My Own Place

INTRODUCTION
My senior year of high school had just started, when a new TV show called Cheers hit the scene.

The show has this theme song about how sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

Quite possibly the greatest sitcom theme in television history.

Of course, I was not quite 18 years old yet, so the idea of hanging out in a bar sounded like a grand fantasy of sorts. I mean, I loved drinking beer and malt liquor, so what’s NOT to love about a place like this?

Early November 1982: Almost 18 and feeling oddly positive about the world. It was the Colt 45, and I had recently seen Rush in concert.

My attitude about bars changed significantly when I turned 21. I went to a Holiday Inn bar, which was pathetic. I didn’t get carded and there were too many people in suits.

So I went over to a place near the Guide Lamp factory called The Lamplighter. You could get a beer for $0.65 at the time. The place was full of factory workers who had given up on life long ago. It looked like it used to be a place where you’d order a burger. What killed it for me was the office lighting. The brightness and the buzzing left me empty inside.

There was a bar in the town where I had lived called Woody’s Tavern. I hear it’s still a hoppin’ place to this day. But people from that area would be shocked to hear that I never once set foot in Woody’s.

My aversion to being around groups of humans has always existed. It just got progressively stronger as I got older.

Before I turned 21, there was a bar in the town where I went to college called Papa Louie’s Chug-A-Mug. I would see older college students go in there. I was not so fortunate to be able to get into that bar.

Also before that time, I would go to the Pizza Hut near the Mounds Mall on Sundays and get a pitcher of beer with a pizza. I was 16 years old. They served me alcohol no matter what. This was the case even that one time when I went with my brother, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s twin sister, all of whom were 14 years old. I just ordered a pitcher with 4 mugs. No questions.

But I had this idea that a bar would be an ideal place to find my place. After all, the physical atmosphere of Pizza Hut was very similar to The Lamplighter. And in both cases, the atmosphere left something to be desired.


MOVING ON TO LA
I moved to LA just under one month after turning 21. I spent 33 years there, making music at all of the big-name venues on the Sunset Strip, as well as smaller venues.

All of these places had something unique to offer. But what I needed was a space to call my own. It would be a spot where I could get away from people, but not be all that far from the action.

I would say that The Rainbow Room got close. Celebrities like Lemmy or Ron Jeremy had their own booths, and you really had to have a big name to get your own booth. I would get the privilege of sitting with Lemmy at his booth on occasion.

One time, I even got invited to his apartment, which was a short walk from The Rainbow Room. Having an apartment that close to the action was something I would have loved, but it’s also something that was very expensive.

Out of all of the venues that I had ever played in LA and the surrounding area, there was one club that had a space for me.

The Gig had two locations; one in West LA and one in Hollywood. The one in West LA had an identity crisis, as it was previously Igby’s Comedy Club. But the location in Hollywood had to be my favorite of all time.

This was because they had this backstage area that was kind of like a long hallway. It was easy to get to, but the doors were somewhat hidden in order to keep the general public from wandering into the space.

Late September 2004: On the stage at The Gig Hollywood with my old band WHIPLADS, opening for a Marilyn Manson CD release party. The curtain behind my drumset hid a backstage hallway, complete with an access door to the side of the venue, off the main fareway.

In this long hallway, I felt safe and hidden away. At the same time, I could get up on the stage and be hidden away behind the curtain. Best of all, I could hear the crowd of people in the venue.

At the time, I had no idea that I was Autistic. Even worse, I didn’t really acknowledge the backstage area at the time. I thought that the reason why I liked the place was the stage was upgraded, the booking agent [Marsha K] was amazing, and people loved to come to our shows at this location, more than any other place.

Those are legitimate reasons to like the venue, but there was something more to it that I would not be able to acknowledge until over a decade later.


FIGURING IT OUT
My fantasy of finding a bar like Cheers was something that I didn’t obsess over, but I would think about it whenever I walked into a club of any kind.

After decades of entertaining the idea, I started to realize that I wasn’t too keen about being in crowds of people.

And I most definitely did not want to have Norm’s experience. Whenever Norm walked into the bar, everyone would say, “Norm!” He was acknowledged by everyone, and I figured out that this was not what I wanted in my fantasy situation.

So what did I want? And what was so appealing about the Cheers situation, anyway?

I sat to watch some episodes, when it suddenly hit me: What I loved about Cheers was Sam’s office.

Sam’s office on Cheers. This is where an Autistic person would disappear for a while to get away from the crowds and recharge.

Sam’s office had a door that was kind of hidden away; about as hidden away as a door can be in a big liminal space. The door appeared to be strong.

One minute, Sam would be in the bar dealing with people and situations. All he had to do was go through his office door and he’d be in his space, safely hidden away from everyone else.


THINKING BACK
Once I realized that Sam’s office was the thing that appealed to me, and not the bar, I had to think about the other spaces. Earlier, I had acknowledge the long hallway / backstage area of The Gig Hollywood. But what was so appealing about other locations?

The list is way too long to get into that. The first place that comes to mind involved what I loved about college house parties, besides playing music at them.

It was, of all places and things, the bedroom that got used as coat check. It would typically be dark and quiet, although you can hear the muffled party noises. Sometimes I’d crawl underneath the pile of coats and hide for a bit.

All of it started making sense.


MY CURRENT PLACE
My ideal situation would be a hidden room in a house. I could be that creepy guy who lives inside the walls, and be totally happy about it. Of course, I would not like that if it were inside someone else’s house, as I’d not want to be found.

But if I owned a house, I’d have a hidden room inside the walls, and that would be where I’d spend all of my time.

I don’t own a house. So do I have an ideal place?

Yes!

Inside my apartment, I have to go down a hallway to get to the door leading to the Master Bedroom. Once in there, I can close the door and go to the Master bathroom.

The Master Bathroom is about 5’x8′ in dimensions, with the shower being built into the wall. It’s a room inside a room, and it has no windows.

When I need to recharge, that’s where I’ll go. This is the case even if I am home alone, because having too much space can get to me after a while.


Before the internet, this was the only way to get any juicy dirt on Sam and Diane.

IN THE END
I once believed that I wanted to have my own special place where everybody knows your name. But as it turns out, my preference is to be in a place where nobody knows I’m there.

It’s fortunate that I don’t really need to be in a place like this all of the time. I can go to a bar, club, house party, or any other situation and cope to a degree. But I have to have that coat check or other hidden away place where I can disappear at a moment’s notice, not to be found.

Some people dream of having a spacious mansion. I dream of having a private walk-in closet as a space to call my own.


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Published by DrumWild

Writing about drums, music, and philosophy.

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