August 6, 2013 by Dadinator
Family nights out at the pub are fun. Our pub has a cheap meal night on Mondays that we frequent frequently. It serves a couple of purposes; it’s a chance to hang out with the locals, catch up with people and say hello (old school social networking), it’s also a night off cooking and dishes, and a change of scene.
Once upon a time pubs meant something different. A chance to cut loose, to do some slightly nutty things and to genereally drink, be merry and laugh. Nunc Est Bibendum, as Horace once wrote. Now it’s different. Not only has the focus of pub time shifted from liquid to solid (it’s more about the food these days….), but the experience has changed. The vibe is quite different now, I thought it was worth looking at how it has changed. It might be especially useful for those considering having, or about to have, kids of their own.
With no child to mind you can drink as much as you feel like drinking. In my younger days that meant “Oh, I’ll go in and have a beer or 3”, which would sometimes turn into me getting home and going “What? I had 50 bucks in my wallet, where is it gone and why do I smell like a steak sandwich?”. Seriously, I had these little munchie ceremonies on the way home from the pub, I’d always get a steak sandwich from this take away place in Carlton.
These days drink is induldged in less and savoured more deeply. I had a moment during a New Year’s party I was at with some dear and old friends in 2011. The Lad was still young and portable in those days, so we took him along. I had a couple of beers as the night progressed and the man who became my son’s godfather offered me half a longneck of some very fine beer he had been saving for special occasions. I smacked my lips (I am a beer wanker), and was about to say yes when a thought entered my head.
“Later on you’re going to want to pick up your son. Can you do that if you’re drunk? Of course you can’t”.
So I said no. That moment was a mini head explosion-type epiphany for me. I have a son who is highly dependent on me and on his mother. Even though The Mamanator was there and could have taken care of him, I simply couldn’t stand the thought of being too plastered to pick up my son. I never have been since.
When I was in the pub pre-Lad, the only thing that mattered was socialising. Talking, joking, shouting over music in a well-socially-lubricated setting was what it was all about. It was fun. There were times where I would have to play responsible adult, go chasing after a “person-of-impaired-judgement” who may have put themselves in a spot of bother. You might need to help them to a taxi or stop them from stealing glasses. You might need to help them find the bathroom or pick up the phone they’ve just dropped. You might need to stop them from vandalising a pub in some way or texting an ex. And of course, I have been that person in the past myself.
Today socialising happens in shifts between The Mamanator and I. One person gets to chat. The other one is running after The Lad, who is a lot like the ‘person-of-impaired-judgement’ mentioned above. I have never helped him into a taxi, but The Lad will gladly spend a whole evening at a pub running around the pub aimlessly, picking up and dropping things, stealing food or breaking things if left to his own devices. He may at various points also require cleaning up, which is far grosser than holding a friends hair back for them, let me tell you.
I used to work in a pub in East Brunswick. I’ll let you guess which one if you’re from the area (you already know if you know me personally). I remember a few times staying for “lock-in”. The pub was licensed till 1am. Some nights staff and select patrons would stay in, lock the door and just keep drinking till 3am, 4am or whenever really. I have often stayed at a bar or pub till closing time when they turned the “shove off” lights on, and would have stayed longer still if possible.
Now, we are on the clock. The Lad is usually bathed and ready for bed by 7:30pm. He’s asleep by 8 or a little after. We arrive at about 6pm, order our meal, eat, hang around for a short while (and I mean a short while) and then run. We run like the wind. We enjoy ourselves, we don’t woof down our food or anything, but we know there is an alarm clock on our time at the pub. It’s also worth pointing out that by the time The Lad’s bed time rolls around the pair of us are stuffed too, we turn into pumpkins well before midnight these days…..
I used to go to the pub with a wallet, phone and keys. That was all I needed, gave me access to everything important. Money, communication and a way into the front door at home.
Not so these days, the nappy bag is a must, along with an assortment of toys (The Guildford hotel is already furnished with them though), and a booster seat just in case there are no high chairs.
5 Ordering at the bar
Pint of …….. thanks. Used to do me. Then back again a few times. Sometimes I’d be buying rounds but there was very little variation. Occasionally my first visit to the bar would involve me asking “What’s on tap?”
Nowadays my order is as follows: Pot of …. (for me), Cranberry Lime and Soda and a cup of ice. The beer is for me, the concotion for the 35 week pregnant Mamanator and the cup of ice is for The Lad. It’s part drink, part play thing, and it keeps him happy till the meal arrives. No idea why, but if it works, go with it. This is my rule of thumb for all parenting, by the way.
Oh my first question at the bar nowadays is “Do you have highchairs?”
So it’s all changed somewhat. I’m sure as time goes on it will change again, that’s the way of things I suppose. It remains fun, social and a break from home. It’s also a place for catching up with friends and enjoying conversation. So maybe it hasn’t really changed all that much.