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   Speaking of Creepy Places

John W. Pinkerton


My nephew recently retired from the military.  In an effort to celebrate the occasion, he invited a number of his friends and family to join him at a bowling alley-poolhall-gameroom-bar-fastfood emporium.

I guess the choice of locations made sense being that all ages can find entertainment at the omnipurpose location.

However it reminded me of creepy locations I sometimes frequented as a youth.  Let's start with the pool hall.  I know this is not the 50's or 60's: pool halls are not now local establishments which cater to the low lifes of society; they are now owned by corporations and cater to a more youthful, more affluent group of patrons.  However, there was a lot to be said for the creepy old pool halls.  It was refreshing to be among minor thieves, hustlers, ne’er-do-wells, and disease infected miscreants on occasion.  It made me realize not everyone has a mother and not everyone goes to church on Sundays.  There always seemed to be an ancient gentlemen who looked as though he was one step from the grave with a cigarette delicately dangling from his lips.  Ah, good times, good times.  For a minor, pool halls were an excellent venue for purchasing beer being that they took your money without regret and winked at the law while giving you the privilege of playing a game of eight ball.  One needed to be careful not to accidentally poke a fellow patron with a cue which inevitably would be greeted by either superior sneers or even worse, a thorough beating.  I don't think I was ever in a pool hall that I didn't develop a cold immediately afterwards.

Not nearly as creepy were the bowling alleys, but they claim their share of creepiness.  I joined a bowling league during my first year in college.  It was okay and I enjoyed the company of my teammates, but wearing bowling shoes just worn by Bubba is not really very appealing.  Bowling seems to attract a lot of Bubbas.  I have nothing against Bubbas, but I draw the line at wearing shoes they've just employed, and can you imagine the shared communicable diseases shared by the finger holes in the bowling balls?  There always seemed to be some thugs showing up, scoping the place out for possible victims and certainly unattached girls and women.  Some of them would lean on a railing and comment on the proceedings.  It was always a good idea to watch your back when exiting the bowling arena.  I'm just saying.  I'm as democratic as the next guy, but sharing space with whoever happens to be a little low on victims is not my idea of a happy place.

Gamerooms came along long after I was an adult; I have no direct experience with them, but a gathering place catering to kids with pockets full of quarters seems a little creepy.  There has got to be older kids or adults cruising these places for malicious purposes.  I guess a lot of the fascination for youths with gamerooms has diminished since their iPhones and televisions have become their own game rooms.

As for fastfood joints,  I've always liked these places.  People come and go but don't loiter here.  Folks just get food and go on about their business often without leaving their cars; no one is looking to score a free French fry.

As for bars, these haven't changed much…well, except for the fern bars.  These are mainly for college students and other sophisticates.  The good old fashioned bars are still out there.  You have a lot of choices of which clientele you prefer to rub up against.  Just remember to sit with your back to the wall.

The only thing missing the other night in my list of creepy places in my rendevous with my nephew was the creepiest place on earth, the bus station.  Holy crap!  They almost make one lose his or her faith in humanity.