Monday, October 06, 2003

You have a baby! In a bar.

One of the things I enjoy about Austin is the laid back attitude towards infants and children. When my kids are babies I tend to take them everywhere with me under the theory that babies are just noisy luggage until about 9 months - they can't exactly get into trouble or make a scene, and if they start fussing you can always quiet them down by nursing them. Also, if you're nursing, it's easier to take the baby with you than to hire a sitter, pump a bottle before you leave, and then pump while you're out to prevent engorgment. I've taken my babies to dinner all over town, to hear live music and to all sorts of adult events, and no one has ever had anything negative to say. (I hasten to add that I'm fanatically about not disturbing the people around me, and if the nursing doesn't calm the baby down, we're out of there.)

I guess there's always going to be one jerk who tries to ruin it for everybody else. Friday night I went to my friend Bethany's bachelorette party and had a great evening with my gal pals. We agreed to meet for dinner at a bar on Sixth St. that's well known for it's food. (I'm not going to name this establishment until I give them a few more days to respond to my complaint letter.) It was 5:30 in the evening and we sat outside in the courtyard away from the smoke and any loud noise. It was exactly as if we'd been eating at a restaurant with an outside seating area. Despite this, our waitress was terribly concerned about how "inappropriate" it was that I had a baby in a bar. She made this concern known while we were waiting in line at the kitchen window to order food, by complaining loudly (as in, I want to make sure you hear me, even though I'm going to pretend I'm not talking to you) to the folks in line ahead of us. She then refused to take my order. My friends ordered for me, but she never brought the part of our order that included my sandwhich, and we had to go ourselves and get it from the kitchen where it had been sitting for some time.

It's unclear what the problem was - she mentioned the breastfeeding, but claimed that didn't really bother her. She said it was not an appropriate place to have a baby, but again, it wasn't any different than a restaurant. And Alec was very quiet the whole time we were there, so there's no way he was disturbing other customers.

The amusing part is that this chick was the typical wild child Austinite - bleached hair, tattoos up and down both arms, and a punky rock and roll attitude. I'm sure she thinks of herself as an alternative, unconventional type; and she probably considers people like me - no dyed hair (today), no tattoos, plain jane clothes and a kid - to be the essence of conventional squaredom. And yet she's the one espousing the hardcore conservative attitude that allowing an infant to be in a place where people are consuming alcohol will warp him forever. So much for her alternative street cred.

I'm happy to report that the rest of our evening was a blast. We saw a great show at Esther's Follies and finished up with drinks on the patio at Club DeVille. Both of these places might have had more reason to be concerned about a baby than the place we ate dinner - at Esther's they're doing a show and Club DeVille is more of a bar bar than the other place (for one thing they don't serve food). Instead, at both places they doted over the baby and acted like it was the most natural thing in the world for me to have him with me. So I'm in hopes that the waitress at the first place was an annomaly, and not an indication of an attitude shift.


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