Dos and Don’ts of the Young and Childless in Bars.

For some reason the question of “babies in bars” really puts a burr in some people’s knickers, so when the Fort Greene beirgarten Der Schwarze Kölner, started offering playgroups for parents with kids, the NYTimes wrote a piece in “The Local” blog called “The Dos and Don’ts of Babies and Bars.”

After the obligatory barrage of comments saying children don’t belong in bars, I thought, “Why do they care?” What ever happened to live and let live? Is a mothers’ group chatting with their infants really interfering with the hardcore alcoholics slowly killing themselves?  My general attitude is if an establishment wants to be friendly to parents (usually during the dead Noon to 5pm doldrums) it is their prerogative, and would behoove them financially in bedroom communities like Fort Greene and Park Slope.

But since The New York Times brought it up, in their incredibly offensive and condescending way, here is my

Dos and Don’ts of the Young and Childless in Bars.

Try to find an establishment that caters to you: If you are gay or a minority or young or old, make sure you only go to an establishment that caters to your “kind.” Going to a bar that doesn’t might offend the clientelle.

Choose carefully: You do not want to find yourself at a bar that is playing Bryan Adams in a non-ironic way, or find yourself in Jackie’s 5th Amendment a very uncomfortable conversation with a gentleman demanding to know what elementary school you went to, in order to derive your Brooklyn pedigree.

When in doubt, call ahead: While some bars are filled with bitter, bigoted alcoholics, some are local meeting places were people can have a drink and a conversation and you want to avoid those at all costs.

Find your niche: Try not to mix with people who aren’t like you, maybe find a nice ghetto corner set apart from everyone else.

Don’t bring your giant backpack or rolling luggage that you think is appropriate to carry with you all times: Bars are small enough as it is without having to navigate a baggage carousel to get to the bar.  Here’s a hint, if you aren’t at an airport bar, leave the luggage at home.

Plan an exit strategy: Please imbibe as much as you wish, pull a Dylan Thomas for all I care, but if you can’t puke or can’t stand, its time to take it outside.

Any other suggestions? Or do you think the childless should simply keep out of the bars? Please weigh in below.

BTW- I’m guessing its just youth hubris when people write “I work at a bar…and we are all secretly hating you and your kids.” Well, I don’t hate you, because I was you, and in all reality, you will be the one at least considering bringing you child to a bar in 10 years.  Here’s the thing, most people will become parents, and we were all once children, so I don’t know where all the hate comes from.  But when you are 25, you think that is the way life is, and it will always be.

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Brooklyn Brood at Brooklyn Bowl

I would never call myself an athlete, but I have played in organized football, basketball, baseball and lacrosse; and I’m not exactly an extreme sports enthusiast, but I’ve gone rock climbing, skiing, and mountain biking.  Which is why it surprises me that I received a wound that will surely be my biggest scar this weekend… while bowling!

We went to Brooklyn Bowl on Saturday, the rock club cum bowling alley is open to all ages noon to 6 on weekends.  And while it isn’t necessarily “child friendly,” I found it to be a great place to take my my 3 1/2 year old son.  With bumper bowing, children’s movies on the TVs, and a very friendly staff, on top of excellent food by Blue Ribbon and a full bar, it makes for a nice afternoon.  Don’t expect to find changing tables or high chairs; this is a Williamsburg rock club after all, not Chuck E Cheese.  But the menu has plenty to offer the discriminating toddler, including excellent fried chicken, and stellar mac and cheese.  In addition to the very comfortable couches and tables behind the lanes, there are picnic tables and a wide open space for kids to run around, while that night’s band loads in on the adjacent stage.  My only complaint would be the price, $25/half-hour per lane adds up fast, especially when your child’s bowling ball takes over a minute to finally make it to the pins.

I think some of the fried chicken may have gotten on the soles of my shoes, because after eating between the 8th and 9th frames, I completely fell on my face forward on my delivery, with my knee breaking my fall.  I threw a gutter ball, then unbelievably I picked up the spare.  I them inspected my throbbing knee, and saw the skin had been pulled away from a two inch square on my knee.  A small price to pay for a lovely afternoon, and to see Nate have this much fun:

My New Hyper-Empathy

There is a story in the NY Times Magazine about a 1 year old buy who suffered brain damage, and whether it was cause by shaken baby syndrome or some other cause. At least I think that what it was about, as I couldn’t read past the first page of the 7 page article. As with many articles about child abuse, or the tragic death of child, I felt sick to my stomach when reading about it. I’m not talking metaphorically, I actually had to swallow to keep myself from becoming physically ill.

This never used to happen before I had children. I would read horrifying stories and I’d get angry, and feel sympathy for the parents and children, but I could get through them without wanting to vomit. Not anymore.

I’m wonder if my hyper-empathy will ever fade, or if I even want it to. But it does amaze me at yet another thing I never expected that changes after I had children.