Kids Don't Belong In Bars

Thankfully, most Seattle bars bar children from entry.

When I lived in Asheville, N.C., a realtor with a weakness for Belgian beer opened a very dark pub in a downtown basement that he couldn't sell to anyone else. Unlike most of the craft breweries in town, where it wasn't unusual to encounter paddlers jamming on washboards, this bar had a continental moodiness stoked by highly alcoholic beers bottled by temperamental monks. I held a few political meetings there, although it would have been an equally good venue for reading Sartre or writing nihilistic poetry.

The owner acquired a wife around the time he opened the bar, and soon became a father. Many of his buddies were in similar straits, so when he developed a sun-filled, all-American ale joint on the floor above the windowless pub, he put a "Babies and Beer" event on its permanent calendar. Every Tuesday night, drinkers would flock to the bar with babies under their arms (or, more commonly, lashed across their chests in earth-toned slings), transforming the room into a playground. I always wondered what tourists thought was happening when they strolled past a bar with captive toddlers rapping on its front windows.

On this subject, I strongly agree with the prohibition-minded legislators who wrote Washington's liquor laws: Minors don't belong in bars. While it's lovely that so many young parents want to forge relationships with their children by stressing constant togetherness, I don't think childless adults should have to tolerate crying babies and whining children everywhere they go. I appreciate how desperately their parents must need a drink, but it's hardly worth disrupting the sanctity of the saloon to do so. Bars are where revolutions are forged, ideas debated, and affairs sparked. More prosaically, bars are where folks behave in ways they wouldn't if forced into role-modeling.

Fortunately, there's no shortage of options for kid-free drinking across Seattle. I don't have to worry about kids dipping their fingers into the maraschino compartment of the garnish tray at any of the city's excellent cocktail lounges, or the bars at my favorite restaurants being overrun by children demanding paper umbrellas for their drinks. And that's exactly as it should be.

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