Sundry Thoughts From Days Gone By

[Note: This week an assortment of items from columns past – specifically, thoughts from the mid-1990s.]

Item #1: It seems there is no end to the idiocy of lawsuits besieging our court systems these days. A Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled this past week that “Ladies Night” promotions at bars, where drink prices are reduced for female patrons, are illegal.

In rendering their verdict, the appeals court cited state laws, which guarantee equal treatment in “public accommodations” on the basis of sex, race, and sexual orientation. With this guarantee as a yardstick, Ladies Night promotions certainly have to be deemed illegal. Yet, what caught my eye in this story was the wording of the suits that were filed, that apparently never question the legality of Ladies Nights on the grounds the court ruled upon.

Two Madison area men filed the case against Pearl’s Nightclub located in the Holiday Inn – East Towne. Both men attended the club during a Ladies Night promotion in 1992 and subsequently filed suits. In both suits (here’s where this gets very interesting) the men claim that Ladies Night promotions “use women as bait to get men into bars” and encourage women to drink too much. The result of this combination “puts women at risk of sexual assault and men at risk of criminal charges.” Notice that no mention is made of “guaranteed equal treatment.”

While we’re on the subject of equal treatment, I don’t imagine there are too many women out there who approve of being referred to as “bait.” The two men responsible for the suit might have done themselves some good to ask a few bartenders about the type of clientele a Ladies Night promotion attracts. You see, my best friend was manager of Pearl’s for a year and a half after it opened. He could tell you that Ladies Night, far from being a swinging singles opportunity, attracted primarily working women who took advantage of the promotion to meet with girlfriends after work, drink a few cocktails, and chat (Pearl’s is located directly across the street from East Towne Mall). For the vast majority of these women, meeting a man on that particular evening runs nip and tuck with having an elective lobotomy.

Additionally, lower bar prices do not cause anyone, male or female, to drink too much. An over-indulgence in alcohol is the result of either poor judgment on the part of the individual, or the disease of alcoholism – finances have little bearing on either. To extend upon the argument put forth in the suits, the bar promotion with the greatest danger is Happy Hour, which clearly “encourages” both women and men to “drink too much.”

As for the suits’ claim that Ladies Night “puts women at risk of sexual assault and men at risk of criminal charges” it might be very interesting to hear the whole story of what these men did that night in 1992 at Pearl’s. I’m presuming that they had very little luck with the ladies that night (see two paragraphs above for reference) and somehow, in a perverse twist of testosterone, they perceived this to be the fault of Pearl’s and Ladies Night. In reality, their male chauvinism, as exhibited in the wording of their suits, was probably enough to repulse any female in their proximity.

Item #2: Glen Hanket and his wife, Susan, recently completed a cross-country walk from Maine to Oregon. As long as they were walking they thought they might as well pick up garbage. So after twelve months of travel and 3,000 miles, the Hankets’ litter collection totaled 3 1/2 tons, amassed in more than 1,300 garbage bags, which they left along the roads after notifying state transportation departments. That translates to 2.33 pounds of garbage for each mile the Hankets walked. This illustrates that, though we have made and are continuing to make progress in managing our waste products, we still have a long way to go.

For what it’s worth, the Hankets note that Idaho was the most littered state. Go figure.

Item #3: My young roommate, and best buddy, Andrew, is amazingly bright. Of course, all parents [note that I officially adopted Andrew this year] think their child is intelligent, but Andrew has surprised me with wisdom far beyond his 3 3/4 years.

One of the most difficult concepts for children is time. If I try to tell Andrew that a friend will be coming to play in the afternoon, for example, he will turn around and ask me if the friend is coming in five minutes. When I try to clarify things by explaining that the friend will come over after lunch, Andrew will immediately want to eat lunch.

Andrew has particular trouble grasping the idea of today and tomorrow (or so I thought) and this past week was a good example of his struggle. On Thursday morning as I was loading the two of us into the car Andrew suddenly paused and asked, “Daddy, is today today?”

I liked that phrase so I responded, “Yes, Andrew. Today is today.”

Well, now we move ahead to Friday morning. The situation is the same – I am loading the two of us into the car and Andrew pauses to ask, “Where you working today, Daddy?”

“I’m going to the bookstore,” I respond.

“Where I going?”

“You’re going to day care today,” I answer. “And tomorrow, you get to stay home and play. Momma [Barb] will be home and I don’t have to work until nighttime, so we can all play.”

Andrew pauses a moment to absorb all of this and then asks, “Daddy, is this tomorrow?”

“No, Andrew,” I respond, and then, thinking that I will be clever, I say, “Today is today.”

Andrew looks at me, then drops his chin and slowly shakes his head saying, “Oh no, not again.”

This, folks, is a sentiment we have all shared at one time or another.