The Sixty-Seventh Chart

January 11, 2013

By Ekta R. Garg

In the first week of December my husband and I attended a hospital holiday party.  The party organizers had chosen a popular bar/restaurant for the party, and while my husband wasn’t overly thrilled at the prospect of the bar’s food he looked forward to seeing his colleagues and members of the hospital staff in a social setting.  As we drove to downtown Salt Lake, my husband helped me place the many people I’d only met once or twice before at these types of events.

We found a parking spot a block or two away from the bar, and we walked briskly toward the venue.  As we approached the front door, I saw a sign stating that the bar didn’t allow anyone under 21 to drink and that all entrants needed to have ID.

I started to mention this to my husband as we walked through the door; for once I hadn’t brought my purse with me.  I usually carried it, but that night I wanted freedom from the social trappings of womanhood.  So I left my purse at home.  But I really didn’t think it would pose a problem.  Until the host at the table inside the entrance stopped us.

The host asked for ID.  My husband pulled out his wallet and flashed his driver’s license.  Then the host looked at me.

I begged ignorance.  We had no way of knowing we’d get carded.  My husband even mentioned how he’d been to hospital functions at that same place before and had never had to show his identification before.  The host didn’t budge.  We tried talking him around.  He still didn’t bend.

My husband became miffed.  He didn’t like the fact that the host said he’d have to turn us away.  We looked at one another and then he mentioned he’d go in, talk to everyone there for a minute, and then we’d leave.

I stood there in awkward silence with the host as my husband popped in and chatted with everyone.  They all expressed surprise that I had to wait by the door, but they understood my husband wanting to leave.  Which we did a few minutes later.

We walked back to the car mostly in silence.  After we got into the car, my husband asked me what I thought about going home, getting my purse, and then coming back.  The opportunity to socialize with everyone didn’t come often, he said, and he wanted to take it when it came.

Plus the food looked good, for once.  The hospital must have had it catered or convinced the bar to do a special menu for the party.

Despite the 20-minute drive (one way,) we did just that: we went home, I grabbed my purse, and the two of us turned right around and went back to the bar.  Later we found out another couple had done the same thing, although we lucked out.  The other couple had had to drive 40 minutes one way.

I had felt irritated as we drove home, but on the way back I began thinking about the bigger picture.  Whether from fear of legal recourse or something else, the bar owners had decided to take a stand and make sure everyone who entered (on paper, at least) could legally drink.  Yes, it annoyed me that we had to go home, in effect spending an hour that night driving.  But then I thought about my kids.

I thought about Six and Four at 16 and 14.  Or at 20 and 18.  And in a moment of parenting clarity, I appreciated the bar’s stringent rules.

My husband and I strive to model good behavior for our children.  Neither of us ever partied in college.  We both put our academics first, preferring to spend our weekends in college with a few close friends, going out for meals and in one another’s dorm rooms watching movies or playing cards.  We didn’t do drinking games or imbibed until we vomited or fried our brains with other substances.  We focused, we worked hard in our classes, and we kept our priorities straight.

In fact, that night after the party my husband and I began laughing about the fact that we go to bars so infrequently that neither of us had even given a second thought to both of us needing identification.  It just hadn’t occurred to us; we’re most definitely not the bar-hopping type.

My deepest hope and desire for my daughters follow along the same lines: I hope they can go to college, find some good friends, keep their heads down, focus on their work, and resist any negative peer pressure.  And it becomes easier to resist that peer pressure when places like this particular bar go out of their way to make it hard for young people to—in essence—break the law.

We went back to the bar, I showed them my ID and made a joke about it, and then we went into the party and had a lovely time.  I got to talk to several of the hospital staff members, and we enjoyed some good (although a tad loud) live music before we finally left.  By the end of the evening I had cheered up considerably.  And I realized that while getting carded might have embarrassed me, in the long run it actually represented exactly what I want for my children in the future.

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