Choices. Options. Decisions. It’s a tightrope any way you look at it. Make one mistake and you spiral into a unforgiving Sarlacc pit. That’s modern life, or at least that’s what we are told.

I pondered this while I scanned the offerings in Mr. Harada’s 50-CD rotisserie machine. One bad move, and the night would be over. The autumn weather crept through the robust stone chimney that services all three stories of Mr. Harada’s Spanish-revival hacienda. Its tender yet chill-tipped fingers tickled the delicately hirsute regions of my man-bod as I bent over scanning the compact discs.

I chose the Forever Your Girl album by Paula Abdul. I read through the track list, selected “Straight Up,” and pressed play. Mr. Harada was not on board. He calmly pushed stop, lifted the unit, ripped it free from the wall, walked over to the balcony, and dropped it on top of my new Onewheel electric doohickey.

I was concerned. Had I made a bad choice? Was my decision wrong? Were there other options to explore? Mr. Harada replied with silence, as is his nature, and waved me over to follow him downstairs.

We walked into the driveway of Mr. Harada’s estate, he kicked the machine he had tossed from the balcony and bent over to retrieve a single compact disc. He carried it to his garage, opened up the double doors to reveal his stagecoach, climbed in, produced a Discman, put his headphones on and gave me a stare that meant I was to get the horses.

We dove under the I-880 overpass on Bascom. I didn’t know what our final destination would be until Mr. Harada engaged the stagecoach emergency brake around Newhall. The horses broke free of their reins as I struggled to stay in my driver’s seat. By the time I composed myself, I saw Mr. Harada enter the Normandy House Lounge.

The Normandy House Lounge stands in a small strip mall on the much contested border between San Jose and Santa Clara. It’s crowned with a faux second story that is somehow charming. I assume it was built by the same developer who erected Normandy Park across the street. I can only imagine the part of France that borrows its name from the development looks identical.

I spotted Mr. Harada toward the back of the surprisingly spacious Normandy Lounge. His Discman was open in the palm of his hand, and it seemed like he somehow installed his compact disc into the jukebox. I’m not sure how, but he is quite the magical character.

Pearl Jam’s “Black” from the album 10 blared through the speakers as I sat down at the bar. Mr. Harada joined me.

We each ordered a pint of Sculpin and surveyed the scene. It was early in the week, but a sizeable crowd hinted at the popularity of the venue. A number of couples at the bar seemed a bit out of place. They looked like professionals that were enjoying drinks after work. This was something that I hadn’t experienced in a neighborhood bar recently. These folks looked like managers, directors or even maybe entrepreneurs.

The bar is a masterpiece of 1970s Art Nouveau. Its gently swooping accents are only slightly choked by the supple gaudiness that straddles tasteful reproduction and the influence of the bulbus proportions of a nude velvet painting. It’s beautiful, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Mr. Harada and I scanned the literature on the wall for a deal that could extend our BAC (bad-ass coolness). The only hopeful message read: “Garage Sale Liquor—$5 a shot”.

I can’t recall how many gorgeous moments I’ve had drinking decades-old liquors purchased at estate sales or scavenged from forgotten cabinets. I can’t, mostly because the alchemical changes that take hold of questionable brands of alcohol when they are allowed to sit for untold years. I’ve seen Soviet vodkas disfigure their bottles, and mid-century whiskeys turn to camp fuel. Each has their own unique effect on the palate.

Mr. Harada and I surveyed the “Garage Sale” offerings. They were new, and not of a vintage “providence.” There was: Dickle whiskey, Stillhouse bourbon, Pinnacle habanero vodka and Don Q passion fruit rum. I pondered the bottles for a minute. Choices. Options. Decisions.

We did the responsible thing, ordered some reliable Lagunitas IPAs, and enjoyed a hearty conversation with Kyle the bartender.

You may wonder what happened to the horses that broke free. Well, as they tend to do, they made their way back to the bar, and we were able to convince them to tie up to the stagecoach and take us home. Mr. Harada and I made it back just in time to tuck in and enter slumber before the sun took full purchase of the landscape.