Today, while I was walking by my dentist’s office from high school, and sitting at the three minute long stop light I used to sit through with my elementary school carpool, and turning left at the place I bogarted someone when I had my driver’s permit, and taking a nap in a park where I once had a hot first date and where I also went to day camp and ate applesauce out of single serve applesauce containers and thus was cool, and passing the Irish pub where I tried to play in a session when I was twenty-one and it was a Sunday morning and I didn’t know what to order in a bar on a Sunday morning so I got orange juice and halfway through one of the the songs one of the other musicians leaned over and whispered “wrong song” in my ear so I never went back to that pub though I used to also drive by it to get to swim team back when Ballard was all old Scandinavian ladies and there was a bowling alley — I realized that I have known this town for twenty-three years. That’s a long, long time.
An illustrative story: there is a weird establishment in the University District called Tubs, that we used to drive by on the way to almost everywhere when I was a kid. It was fancy then, in that fakey gold kind of fancy that is the essence of the eighties. Swanky, yet sleazy. As an eight year old who wanted to be a pioneer, orphaned princess, or at least a Victorian, it offended me with its cheesy bling.
It is closed now, and has become a monument of graffiti art. Today, in broad daylight, I saw the most awkward, lank-haired teenagers in the world adding their mark. Somehow, maybe it was just them, but the act lacked pizzazz, as if half the power of graffiti is defiance. I like the new Tubs, though. Like some Roman ruins, the place is decadence turned gritty.
My mom, who recently drove by there with a friend’s husband in his midlife sports car, said he disagreed. “It’s so sad what’s happened to that place,” he said. “I mean, my daughter was conceived in there.”
“See, I knew that place was sketchy,” I told my mom.
She informed me that no, it had been fancy, and that tons of her friends had gone there to have sex. “But I never did,” she clarified. “It was too expensive.”
“Like I said, sketchy. I mean, did they change the water in the tubs?”
“They must have.”
“They can’t have — emptied a whole hot tub?”
“That’s probably why it was so expensive.”
“But you can get infections from having sex in hot tubs,” put in my sister. Clearly, we are out-pruding my mom’s friends.
“It was the times! It was before we knew things like that. Sex in hot tubs, sex in hot springs….”
“I don’t care about people having sex random places, but they built it into their business model. That’s sketchy!” (That was me, the one word parrot. Sketchy… sketchy.)
And so it is: Tubs was sketchy. Now it’s sketched on. I’m sure the shift from swanky-sex-tub to un-rebellious youth art says something significant about Seattle’s changing culture. I’ll leave that one to some UW Ph.D. student. Meanwhile, I’ll conceive my kids somewhere else — and it won’t be at that long stop-light, either.