Just a couple minute’s drive down the road from my house in Sacramento lies the decrepit, busted down, creepy, poor-excuse-for-a-shack, shanty shed of a dive bar known as The Trap. This local treasure was built in 1885, a little after the birth of Abe Vigoda (read: Abe Vigoda is older than dust).

As children, all the kids were convinced it was haunted, myself suffering chills down my spine whenever my family passed it on the way to the freeway on-ramp nearby. Rumors swirled about this place, with the most believable explanation (at the time) placing it as a bar run by ghosts so that they’d have a place to party, just like in that movie Casper. Well, Casper was a terrible movie, so there was no reason for us to ever go near The Trap.

Of course, with the passage of time, we all find ourselves a little wiser than the day before. And as such, my friends and I became a little more reasonable in our expectations of the place. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t haunted – there were cars parked outside nearly every day – but it was definitely a place where serial killers, Jackson Pollock admirers, and other weird groups congregated. Still, no place for a bunch of college kids to hang out.

But this past summer, I noticed as I drove past the bar that a Lexus was parked in front of it. The next week, a Lexus and a BMW. I told my friends about this, and we wondered: were we completely wrong about this place? Ideas swirled around in our heads, trying to explain why any sane person who could afford a nice Lexus would patronize this dive. My friend Justin suggested that “There’s probably an underground club with marble floors, chandeliers, and light jazz music. The dump up top is just a front to keep people out.” Who could argue against perfect logic like that? No one, that’s who – but we had to find out ourselves.

The Trap.

A few months later, during winter break, we all finally built up the nerve one night to dive into The Trap. Twelve of us went together so that we’d be able overpower any of the creeps we knew would attack us as soon as we went in.

Upon stepping inside, it was as if all the air was sucked out of the place. Everyone inside was white and 40-plus, and for a moment they all stopped dead in their tracks to get up and stare at us, the giant throng of Asian kids who had come to invade their bar. But there was no threat, no saloon-style brawl. We began to take in the sights, and the realization that this was a complete let down sunk in.

At once, it was everything and nothing we imagined. It was a complete dump inside like we knew, but it wasn’t some outrageous scene from the Wild West at the same time. No ghosts or chandeliers either. There was, however, a taxidermed wolverine sneering at us on a cabinet near the NASCAR pinball machine. The place was barely bigger than my living room, with two dusty pool tables taking up much of the space.

The regulars there had long gone back to their activities and were extremely warm and welcoming. It couldn’t be more obvious that we were fish out of the water, so they took us in, challenging us to games of pool, conversing, and sharing some cheap beers (Pro Tip: Bud Light is always gross, no matter where you are). One very nice lady with one leg turned out to be a former student teacher at our high school, recognizing my friend Brandon because he was the one who would torment her during computer design class. Only Brandon would have the brass to tease an amputee.

We left, eventually, utterly disappointed that we had no fantastical story of shoot-outs or light jazz to tell, but satisfied because it was something to check off on our list of things to do in life and because we’d met some decent people. Oh, Trap. We know now that you are a charming little dump, and if we never see you again, it’ll be too soon.