Against babies in bars: the Brooklyn "Stroller Manifesto"
After a full weekend of dealing with the in-laws, last night I told my wife I needed a beer. Not a bottle from the fridge, but a real beer: a pint pulled from a tap. It was 5:00 p.m. and we walked to the Irish bar down the street where we used to go before we had a baby in our lives. Because it was so early on a Monday night, the place was empty, but the second we walked in the bartender gruffly sputtered at us, "sorry, no babbys allowed." I looked at Paddy McIrishman bartender and asked, "Why not? It's five o'clock?" He responded: "It's the law."
My wife and I used to live in Ireland. We know that the Irish allow kids in the pub before it gets too late. It's the same in other countries, too. In California, there's no smoking in the bars, and I'm pretty sure it's not against the law to have a baby in a bar that early. My neighborhood is certainly in no danger of becoming the next Park Slope, Brooklyn's tony parenting paradise where bars are overrun with strollers at night. One modern Martin Luther in Brooklyn even created an anti-baby "Stroller Manifesto," which he tacked to the doors of baby-infested bars, shaking his fist in frustration. The manifesto reads:
"Listen, if you're a parent now, your child doesn't have to be the center of everyone else's universe too. Get a baby sitter if you want to go out to a bar, or buy a bottle of wine and invite your friends over, just stop imposing your lifestyle on the rest of us in our sanctuary of choice. You made the decision to have a child and now, like a responsible adult and parent, you have to change your lifestyle as well."
Wow, I've clearly been oblivious to this whole scene. You mean I didn't have to change my lifestyle? I didn't have to stop hitting the bars when the baby was born? Frankly, I kind of agree with this guy. If I was a single 25-year-old, I wouldn't want screaming kids in the bars I was cruising either (that said, I'd like to write a manifesto against lame-ass 38-year-olds who hang out in bars hitting on 25-year-olds; ten words: You're old, and lame. Deal with it some other way.) But when it's five o'clock and the only patron in the bar is some Irish Granny passed-out next to a gin and tonic, I think my wife and I ought to be able to step out and enjoy a Guinness. I don't want to get into the whole babysitting thing, we don't know anyone and babysitting ain't what it used to be when my sister earned $2.00 an hour and was glad to get it. You have to provide dental insurance to your babysitter nowadays, I swear. I just wanted a fresh-pulled pint in a real bar, was that so much to ask? Just like with an empty movie theater, shouldn't it be okay to bring a baby into an empty bar?
Oh well, at least our fridge is stocked.