I should have known better. Having passed the Hillsboro Village nightspot every day on my way to work, I knew all I needed to know about Cabana based on one feature: vaulted ceilings. High ceilings in a bar tell you all you need to know about what is valued there. Conversation? Forget about it. It's like trying to have a quiet chat in a church if that church happened to be playing pounding house music.
Unable to fall back on my one social grace (that'd be listening), the only thing left to do was dance. Or, as I prefer to call it, shuffling. And that gave me ample time to watch the Pretty People: recent divorcees, slick-haired I-Banker types, a rubber-faced suit named J.J. who my roommate swore was the "entertainment" at a recent bachelorette party she'd attended.
It was while watching the strobe-lit scene that I had a mini-breakthrough. The difference between being the Nerdy Guy in high school vs. being the Nerdy Guy in the real world are the options. Cabana was the perfect place to go if I wanted to feel 15 all over again. But I didn't.
Being an adult means having the choice to go to a place where you feel like you belong, like a (low-ceilinged) Irish pub. Or the place I eventually chose to go: home.