Sunday, January 24, 2010

Salvaging, Recovering, and Reflecting

Or maybe I should just call it bitching...because that's probably what this post is more likely to sound like.

Last night, we went out. We planned ahead, so we wouldn't be disappointed with a poorly thought out evening (we have a tendency to be bit by those on occasion). As hard-working, two-income-earning parents with a carefully-tended budget, we make it a point to really, really make a night of it when we get out. If we're getting the babysitter (thank goodness for family - or we'd have to factor in the cost of a teenager sitting on our couch for a few hours watching movies with our son - and stay sober enough to drive him or her home), we want to stay out as late as possible and do as many things as we can cram into that time.

But, the best laid plans...and the road to hell...

It all started with the PALOA benefit. Hmmm...where to begin? Oh, probably with the fact that they oversold tickets and didn't have enough food for everyone. Good job, guys. Now, I'm not trying to be unfair WAS a fundraiser, so I wasn't expecting a 5-star, 7 course meal, but seriously - I shared my limp, lukewarm ceasar salad with my husband (while everyone else at our table gave a little of each of theirs so another woman at our table could have one, as well), ate half of my overly-creamed, bland pasta dish, and finished it off with half of an undercooked chocolate chip cookie for dessert (the server actually came around and tried to take the two cookies on the plate left for two of our dinner guests who'd gone to the restroom because they had run out of those, too). I'd also like to point out that we were the only people (besides one teenager sitting above us and two younger men who were apparently family members of the performers) under the age of 50. And you can't tell me it's because people under 50 do not enjoy musical theater. I've been to Broadway-type shows and the audiences are quite diverse.

We tried to recover from our unimpressive meal by reminding ourselves that the money was going to a good cause. The singing was great, so no complaints there. It ended very early (but then, this is probably directly connected to the age of the attendees, and PALOA must know their audience). So, 8pm and we were off to paint the town red.

Good thing I wore my walking shoes (3 inch heels). We click-clacked our way down to Wine on the Waterfront. I knew prior that there would be no entertainment (disappointing, to say the least), but we like the atmosphere and the service, so it's a nice place to drop in for a drink as a half-way point in an evening or as a night cap. This was hopefully to be our intermission destination. But we were met with a less-than appealing crowd here as well...apparently, since there was nothing else going on in town, the "backwards hat" crowd had convened here...with their loud, boisterous, drunk conversation and their rude comments, it was less than appealing and left us hoping for a better, quieter place.

I'd had just enough time to rest my feet, and we were off again. This time, on our way for a bite to eat and a drink at Michael's. They usually have a great late-night appetizer and drink menu, so this seemed like an appropriate end point. We were hungry, disgruntled, and just hoping to end our evening on the upside. Unfortunately, the whole restaurant had been rented out for a wedding party. I will give them credit, though...they raced up to us before we got back to the front door and gave us a coupon to use on our next visit. It didn't improve our mood much, though.

So, now, we were stuck. Any other place that even MIGHT have had entertainment was too far away to walk to. And without knowing for sure what those places had to offer, it wasn't really worth the cab fare (which is pretty high in this town, since they have no competition). I will say, it was also disappointing because, had I known how to drive stick, I could've just driven us home in D.'s truck. (Dammit! Put that on my list of things to do.)

We got home, after our 30$ cab ride, and tried to salvage the evening. We had nothing in the house to snack on, so we opted for 2 glasses of water and a movie we'd been looking forward to seeing. That turned out to be just one more disappointment, though. I went to bed at midnight, because my eyes were tired of trying to keep up with the impossibly fast sub-titles (don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of foreign flicks, but I've never watched a movie whose sub-titles moved that quickly). D. stayed up and finished the film but told me this morning that the ending was anti-climactic (if you're wondering, it was Inglorious Basterds).

Our morning reflection on the couch left us in a gloomy fog. We live in a dying town. Sure, there are a plethera of community events (though fewer and farther between), but more and more those events are not directed at our demographic. There are things for the young - though those are disappearing one by one - busy, loud clubs with dancing and vomiting. There are quiet places with little or no entertainment that offer expensive, but tasty drinks, snacks, and meals. There are events that cost anywhere from 75-100$ per person/couple that crop up from time to time. There are high school plays, the Community Playhouse, etc. There's even the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts. But even that is languishing. Last year the crowd with thinner, the music was slower and less diverse, and the food was just the same old thing.

I realize that our economy has a lot to do with it. When the economy falters, we feel it the most in smaller towns. But, really, this is ridiculous. To completely aim a culture at an older demographic is to kill the life-blood of a community. I'm not willing to accept that community events, concerts, clubs, and restaurants cannot manage to cater to a wider audience and still survive. Our older citizens are not the only ones willing or able to spend a little money on entertainment. I've seen jazz nights here packed to limits that would make any fire-chief nervous. I've seen children dancing at musical events and concerts on the pier. It can be done. And it needs to be done more often.

Or can it be that we have already chased away the young professionals? Are we left with only those who want to spend their retirement in quiet peace, over-looking the remnants of dying (or dead) mills on a quiet harbor that used to be bustling? Are we left with only the young and middle-aged who cannot afford to get out, so therefore have little money to put back into the local system? Are we so depressed that we will allow a new Super-Walmart to kill what few local merchants are left, simply because it is cheaper and more convenient? Are we willing to give up on tourist draws because they cost the community too much in taxes? Apparently, the answers to those questions are a resounding YES.

It seems that those in positions of power in our little town have no better answers.

It makes me sad. And it makes me it better someplace else? Maybe we missed the great migration and have been too slow to realize we were left behind.


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