How do you say “dive bar” in Japanese? Fitting in as a Stay-at-Home Dad
What else do you talk about at a yuppie bar filled with flirting singles and a thin crust of tourists?
Sigh. A prospective at-home dad asked me once what it’s like, and I told him that it’s great fun, but you need to practice not fitting in. You never quite fit in.
For our second stay-at-home-dads’ night out last night, Cry it Out Mike and I braved a bar and grill on the edge of Pacific Heights, a neighborhood of the “old money” and the “soon-to-be old money.” The bar was a loud-music-and-meet market: two tables around us were nervous men by themselves, scoping; a third was a couple on what could have only been a first date, as he enthusiastically declaimed for all around to hear, “Let me tell you, I was a great summer camp counselor!” The date, who practically had “I HATE Match Dot Com” tattooed on her furrowed forehead, made her exit pretty soon thereafter.
And then there was us, two dads talking about naptime. Screaming, practically, to make ourselves heard, to the surprise of some of our neighbors, but when parents get together, we talk about parenting, obviously, and why not do it in a bar where the beautiful people are practicing their mating rituals?
Mike & I finally decided to protect what was left of our hearing and went trolling through Japantown for a different bar. He nixed the Karaoke — not because he won’t, but because I wanted to be Hall, and no way was he gonna be Oates! We finally settled on a subterranean place advertised only by a sign consisting of three characters in hiragana and a fourth in a universal language: the highball glass.
We’d stumbled onto a near-perfect dive…
- a shady character at the bar fed a tiny dog he’d tucked down his shirt
- the bartender informed us cheerily that there was no need to worry about California’s smoking ordinance
- there was lipstick on my glass
- the walls were covered in copious mirrors and plastered with a homemade stucco pattern
And there, in the mild haze and torn paper fusuma partitions, we continued our conversation about:
In that place, on those vinyl benches, no one paid us any attention. Munching on complimentary stale pretzels, we’d finally found a place where we fit in.
__For those of you who are wondering how the outfit worked out, Mike wore a cool independent band t-shirt over a long-sleeve T-shirt and looked rockin’, as I predicted. I tried that look at home, but all my T-shirts have pictures of large marine mammals on them. Goofy the Dolphin is hardly hip. So I stuck to my naturalist outfit: cotton and denim and hiking boots.