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Turlock humdrum

POSTED January 12, 2010 10:49 p.m.
I hate to admit it, but the City of Turlock has a well-deserved reputation as being, well, a bit boring.
Actually, I take that back. I don’t hate to admit it. I relish in saying what everyone else in town seems to think, but fails to act upon.
After all, if there’s one thing I learned in that 12-step program it’s that we have to admit we have a problem before we can make things better. I mean, look at me, I’ve been off of doughnuts for six months now.
I had another one of those “a-ha, we have a problem,” moments this weekend, just with less powdered sugar and glazing. But it really clicked as to just how vapid the Turlock recreational landscape was.
It was Saturday evening, probably around 7 p.m., and I was sitting around the house bored. Desperate for something to do, I got into my car, intent on having an adventure of some kind.
Now, my favorite Turlock leisure-time activities — on the off chance that I happen to be spending my leisure-time in Turlock in the first place — include browsing Borders and strolling through the aisles of Target. I don’t quite know what this says about me and my complete submission to the capitalist ethos, but I do know that there are only so many times you can stare at the bargain book bin before your brain goes batty and begins using too much alliteration.
After driving around aimlessly for 15 minutes, I ended up getting a burrito at Qdoba and heading home. Yes, the burrito was delicious, and I suppose I could say I was a bit adventurous by ordering the hottest hot sauce, but it wasn’t what I had hoped for when I got into my car.
But as my mind ran through possible entertainment alternatives, catching a movie was the only recreational opportunity I could think of in town. Sitting down at the Turlock Poker Room also came to mind, but I thought better of it when I realized I still call one of the suits “flowers.”
We have no bowling alleys, go-kart tracks, arcades, driving ranges, laser tag, late-night coffee shops, or 24-hour doughnut shops in the City of Turlock. I mean, I’ve sworn off that last one, but still.
I sat at home, eating my spicy burrito, pondering just what makes Turlock such a boring place.
The City of Turlock itself can’t be blamed, I don’t believe. If you’re a bar hopper or a foodie then you’re entitled to your qualms with the liquor license-averse city council, but I’ve never really been one for the bar scene.
I thought about casting aspersions at business owners, launching into a silent tirade against their lack of business acumen and inability to see that Turlockers are desperate for, well, anywhere to spend their money in exchange for an hour’s respite from boredom. But then I remembered Owned!, the comic and gaming hangout spot in the Turlock Cinema Center that both opened and closed its doors last year.
The only answer I could come to, then, was that the citizens of Turlock are to blame. We must be inherently boring people.
The town at one time had a bowling alley, but it closed. We had a driving range. Heck, we even had a gelato shop. But they exist no more.
Profitable businesses rarely shut their doors for good. So the people of Turlock must simply not support these entertainment venues. We must be content to sit in front of the television and complain about how bored we are, rather than driving to a local business and forking over some of our hard earned cash.
Admittedly, these are tough times and Turlock is not a huge community. I can understand how it may be difficult for an ice skating rink, for example, to be economically viable in a town of 70,000 where per capita income was just $16,844 in the year 2000, the last year data is available.
A lack of citizen cash doesn’t explain the lack of participants in free or nearly free leisure time activities, however.
The fact of the matter is that there’s actually quite a bit to do about town, if you look for it. There are concerts and plays and recitals. There are classes for adults on everything from language to art to yoga. There are sporting events in a variety of venues, and there are sport leagues for all ages.
In fact, the City of Turlock has actually done a commendable job of giving us drainage basins/parks to play in. Sure, it may become a bit hard to play soccer without drowning following a heavy rain, but there’s an expanse of grass within biking distance of every house in town.
Sadly, I must admit that I’ve never been in a Turlock park except to cover a story. I plan on changing that, though.
Following my a-ha moment, I’ve decided to take a certain level of responsibility for my own boredom. A few friends and I have decided to start a pick-up lacrosse game here in town — despite the fact we’ve never played lacrosse. We just saw some highlights on the Internet and decided to give it a go. Plus, the portmanteau “Turlacrosse” is simply too good to pass up.
Oh, and my night of adventure? Some friends ended up calling. They were having a campfire in their backyard.
I’m not sure what the Turlock Fire Department might think of the merriment, but setting things on fire when you get bored has been a part of human history for a long time. And, surprisingly, staring a fire with a group of friends remains as entertaining as it must have been for cavemen.
To play lacrosse with Alex Cantatore and a motley crew of Turlock's finest, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005. Please do not bring doughnuts.

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