Open thread

We have an open thread all day today on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Do you have a neighborhood bar or hangout?  Describe it for us.  Do you wish you had one?  What would it be like?

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107 thoughts on “Open thread

  1. We live near an area with several microbreweries/brew pubs. I can think of 5 off the top of my head within a 3 mile radius. I have not been to one of them as it is new. The smaller ones have seating outside and/or in the brewery areas itself while the larger ones have designated tap room area, but may have outside seating as well. All have a food truck available on the busier nights and sometimes at lunch. Only one has a license to sell beer that can be taken off premises.

    Tables are long with benches, so you sit wherever there is space, not at “your” table. One has board games you can use while you are there, two have live music periodically, and one has a small area where local artists’ work is available for purchase.

    We have several small restaurants that some neighbors use as a local hangout, but they have become so popular, you are hurting their business if you stay longer than the normal turn of a table. We were supposed to get (per the signage anyway) a local chain very near us. But, that sign is gone and the “for sale/lease” is back up.

  2. I was single in Manhattan when Friends and Seinfeld were on NBC. The apartments were fake, but having a local place for coffee was very familiar to lots of NYers. I know it is similar in some other cities, but people go to lthe same places all of the time because apartments are so small. When I think about where I spent most Tuesday nights, it was a a bar on 86th street called Flemings. Free kegs on Tuesdays AND the bartender knew all of us by name. It was just like Cheers. To watch games, I spent many nights in a place called Blondies. Excellent wings and locations on the east and west side. As I got older, had more money, we shifted to places where our feet didn’t stick to the floor. People tended to go to the same neighborhood places in their 20s because you could just walk. If it was close enough, you could try to leave jackets at home.

    By the time I was dating my husband, we were looking for a quiet bar. We lived 20 blocks apart, and found a place that was almost a mid point.

    We don’t have a local place like this now because our lives are very different, but this post reminded me of some special memories in my 20s and 30s. Almost all of the places are gone because the buildings were torn down to make way for new buildings.

  3. We have a brewery and about half a dozen hangout-worthy spots within half a mile from our home, so easily walkable. But we don’t really hang out at any, even though we “intend” to. One is an Irish pub with regulars like Cheers. Another is a bagel sandwich place where I see people drinking coffee and reading, like Starbucks. But I guess I like hanging out at home more so I don’t go to these places that much. Maybe I should reconsider this because I would like these places to stay open.

    The brewery near me sounds similar to the ones AustinMom describes. I wish this one would arrange for a food truck to park there, but I don’t know if there would be enough business.

  4. What is everyone doing today? I’m working at home for a few hours and trying to get psyched to clean a bit.

  5. I am working today – generally we take this day as a holiday, but thanks to all the snow (!) days I am behind on everything.

  6. Ooh, I’d like an Ikea report! I’m due for a visit. It’s fun to go every once in a while and if you don’t really need anything.

  7. What is everyone doing today?

    I’m working. We had really bad ice on the roads this morning and now it’s snowing on top of it. Of course this is one of my days with more driving. But I should be done pretty early.

  8. Still no reply from the English teacher. DS said she was out a couple days last week, but she was back Friday. I sent a follow up over the weekend.

  9. Does anyone here do weight watchers? I did about 10 years ago and it was great – I lost about 65 pounds. I’ve gained about 20 back. I signed up for it last week (online) and I don’t like the new points system. The old one was easy – it was a simple formula that factored in calories, fat, and fiber. I have no idea how the new system works. Some things I think will be a lot of points are very few or even zero, and other things I think are low points are actually fairly high.

    I’m curious what other people think of the new system, if anyone is doing it or has done it.

  10. We just left Home Depot and we’re going to some other stores. Returns and sales. DD went a to a friend. They’re supposed to spend part of their time together on school workbecause she has a lot of exams this week/next week. No midterms, but just a lot of work. I’m worried about the timing of a “small” snowstorm on Wed. I bet school is closed. So tired of cold and snow already.

    I did watch Victoria last night and I’m glad it is back. I think it’s very well done, but I prefer the Crown.

  11. DD, I looked at the new WW plan but didn’t like it. The treats are too “expensive”. If you Google around, there are groups of people doing every conceivable earlier version of WW. If you liked the old program, you should just do that.

  12. Godspeed, Mooshi. I love some items from IKEA, but shopping there is my idea of hell.

    We are all off today, DH & DS went to the IL’s to do a woodworking project, so I am catching up on chores around the house plus I did yoga and went for a long walk in the snow. It’s great.

    Our two favorite neighborhood restaurants closed and our third favorite had substantial damage from a fire & has been in the process of rebuilding for months and months. It’s sad – we have no “go to” place for date nights anymore and no “go to” place for family dinners out. We still have some places we go to often enough, but none where we are known as regulars, greeted warmly, and given what felt like personal treatment because they knew us.

    As the neighborhood around us gentrifies more and more, it’s harder to find places that really feel neighborhoody and not trendy or generic.

    We don’t go to bars often enough to really be regulars anywhere these days. But DH & I met at a neighborhood bar where we were both regulars 15 years ago. When we showed up there on our 2nd date, the bartender laughed & said “I should have set you two up a long time ago.”

  13. DD – I did the version of WW you referenced, about 8 years ago. I like it because the formula was so simple I could mentally calculate the points in my head from the nutritional info. It took me a bit to get used to the next version, but I can happily report that I lost 75 pounds on it over the last couple of years. It was a bit more limiting, but I eventually found my groove. I am struggling with the newest version that they just introduced. I get so few points a day I’m not sure if I am going to be able to stick with it. However, I really disliked having to get used to the last update but eventually made it work for me….so I’m trying to learn the new one.

  14. “Ikea report”

    We stopped at an Ikea on the way to help DS move into his dorm. DW had heard a lot about the food there, and we weren’t disappointed by the breakfast we had there.

    We got there just as they were opening, so the crowds weren’t overwhelming, but by the time we were finishing up it was getting crowded, apparently mostly with families of kids moving into dorms (we were in a college town). We got DS some stuff he needed, e.g., pillows, twin XL sheets (which were nearly sold out), comforter, trash can, shower caddy, trash can.

    Apparently the shower caddy is now a must-have item for kids in dorms, unlike BITD. They do seem practical, and aren’t very expensive. OTOH, DS says he usually showers at the gym after working out and thus rarely uses the caddy we bought him.

  15. RMS, DW’s company has a wellness program that includes spouses, and if I complete 10 weeks of WW, I get $200, so I need to document that I’m following it. But I could just eat according to the old points plan. I agree with you that the new system seems to have very high points for junk food, and the biggest reason the old plan worked for me was that I could still eat a reasonable amount of crap. I’ll see how this goes for another week or two.

    Sunshine, that’s great you lost so much. Hopefully you can continue with the new plan.

  16. “What is everyone doing today?”

    Putting away Xmas decorations and outfitting a bathroom to better serve as a shelter.

  17. Finn — I’m genuinely curious (not being at all facetious here): What can one do to a bathroom to make it better serve as a shelter in the event of a missile attack? More generally, what advice are the public-safety people in your state giving to residents to help them prepare for a potential attack?

  18. I’m stocking the bathroom with bottled water and canned food. I’ll also make sure we have lots of towels (that bathroom is mostly used as a guest bathroom and only had hand towels before Saturday) that can double as blankets. I’ll also stock it with batteries, some flashlights, USB adapters, and chargers, and move our hand-crank radio there.

    I should also keep some of my medications there as well.

    The other thing I need to figure out is how to cover the window. I realized after the fact that, had there been an actual ballistic missile attack, I likely would’ve been outside moving a storage cabinet to cover the window when it landed. So I’m thinking I should have a way to do that from inside. Perhaps some hurricane shutters that can be closed from inside.

  19. July, the Barnes and Nobles with beer and wine is sort of morphing into a local mom hangout.

  20. I really like the brewery that July mentioned – it is an easy walk for us. Sometimes they do have food trucks, but more commonly, people order from the fancy pizza and meatball place up the block. They will text when the order is ready. There is also a place in the downtown village area where we always run into local teachers when we go there. And the hangoutiest place in town, the only place that serves food until midnight, is the place that always often gets voted as best burger in Westchester, why, I cannot imagine – but the place is fine when we need food late and always has that hangout vibe.

  21. When I lived in Manhattan, I think I had mentioned a bit ago that I was into oldtime music and dancing. We had a regular Friday night dance at a church – we got a lot of good bands including the people who did Ashokan Farewell for the Civil War documentary. After the dance ended at 11, we always went to a particular diner which expected us and held several long tables for us. The dancers and musicians were all very eclectic – I remember one of the regulars worked as a guard at Rikers.

  22. Back from IKEA. Daughter now has a new desk, dresser and shelves, also a bulletin board. Her old dresser had completely collapsed, and she needed a real desk and more storage. We also are now proud owners of a decorative pillow with cats on it, a bright green bathroom rug, and a floppy stuffed panda.

  23. No we do not have a place we can call “our regular hangout.” I really want to get into the habit/practice like we had when we were first-married DINKs for Fridays: come directly home from work, i.e. no stop at the gym, have a glass of wine (DW)/ a beer (me), walk 5min to this local Italian place called Chris’s (long gone) where we’d eat pasta or a pizza along with a couple more drinks, then walk home and go sit outside on our fairly tiny balcony to continue talking about the coming weekend, our grand plans, whatever.

    The walk to Chris’s will need to be replaced by a short (<10 min) drive to a Greek place we both like, the most likely candidate. We may have to limit ourselves to 1 drink each there, given current drinking & driving laws. There are 1-2 places a bit closer, and none are walking distance, but we like this place the best.

    We haven't gotten into this routine because of the 22 Fridays starting with DS3's college move in (August) thru this upcoming Friday one or both of us has been out of town 7 times, my surgery recuperation precluded it 3 times, we went out with friends 5 times. Maybe things will open up a bit now that DS2 & 3 are back to school, but I would not necessarily trade out dinners with friends for it just being the two of us.

  24. “that always often gets voted”
    Wow, that sounds confused. It should be “that often gets voted”

  25. RMS, thanks for the idea about Craftsy. I just bought myself the unlimited one year package. Super excited to dabble in things I’ve been wanting to try and just never really knew how to get started.

  26. DD, it’s about 5′ x 15′. Most of the floor area is taken by the tub, toilet, and cabinets.

  27. To paraphrase the Dowager Countess, what is a a holiday?

    After reading about the current strain of flu, I think DH had the flu on the ship, and I have had a lingering but mild case with headache. Making slow progress on the to do list. I hung a couple of pictures today.

  28. My older two kids and I checked on the boat, cleaned and conditioned the seats, and took it out for about an hour to run the engine. I was worried because the lake level is a little low due to the lack of rain for the past few months. I was mainly worried about navigating out of the slip, where it can quickly become shallow even under normal conditions.

    I ran the engine at idle for a few minutes in the slip just to ensure it was ready to start, then shut it down and raised it out of the water. Then I paddled us out, standing on the bow like a backward Venetian gondolier. (This only worked because there was no wind whatsoever–the timing was intentional.) Once we were well clear of the shallows, I lowered the engine and started up.

    My other objective was to top off the fuel tank, but just before we reached the station, the entire waterway became covered with ice. I pushed up against it gently, not sure if it was just a slushy surface. Instead it broke into sheets, and the sound was amusing as it cracked and split and reverberated from one shore to the other. Not wanting to incur any damage, we slowly backed down and made for home.

    All in all, it was a nice way to spend some time outside in the cold, which is something we haven’t done much of. I was talking to a coworker a few weeks ago who’s originally from Maine. He said the key to thriving in Maine is to have some outdoor activity that you really enjoy, and of course have the right clothes. The winter is far too long there to simply stay mostly inside, or to go from one heated place to another, and not be driven to madness or the bottle.

    But where we are, true winter is short enough that you can just hunker down through it, if you have no reason to be out.

  29. I did some work this am and cleaned up the house and then our friends came over – they used to live close and moved away for about 6 years (during which time we didn’t see them) and now are moving back. Great to see them! I made brunch for lunch (eggs, bacon, fruit salad, cake) and then we and the kids hung out this afternoon. The older 2 still have activities today so I will have to go get them shortly.

    Our MDX has had issues lately – battery died when it was cold for so long, last week it needed the timing belt replaced again and then over the weekend the lights, turn signals, wipers, and locks stopped working. Not fun! I am hoping once the electrical gets fixed that it will be able to limp around for another year or 2.

  30. School was cancelled tomorrow because it’s supposed to get below freezing. Maybe even 23 degrees!!!!!!!

  31. There are places we could walk to for dinner, or dinner and a drink, but we mostly don’t. Maybe when we’re empty nesters that will be more appealing. For now, getting five people with varying schedules all moving in the same direction at the same time can be a pain, and it’s a lot cheaper to eat / drink at home.

  32. Finn, remember to stock some kind of water purifier. Boiling it wastes some water and requires fuel. A little bit of bleach goes a long way. Or you could get a filter or something.

    Fred, if you get back into that routine, you could have friends meet you at your hangout spot, as planned dates at first, and then with them dropping in randomly to hang out.

  33. denver dad: love the new freestyle WW plan. there are 200 foods with 0 points. i think it’s genius. it actually matches up with a diet plan i followed several years ago, called volumizing. idea is to have lots of food to eat. i think this does it well.

  34. “some kind of water purifier”

    Good point. One reason we picked the bathroom as our shelter is because it has water, and one of the things we want to grab as we go in is a bit jug that we can fill up while we’re waiting, but after the event, the water supply may be compromised so we may want to purify whatever we drink.

    I think I’ll store some bleach under the sink.

  35. S&M, I’ve found chicken breast, turkey breast, and unsweetened applesauce so far.

    Anon, it sounds like it’s a hybrid of the old WW. There actually were two systems when I did it last time: there was the regular points system, and then there was a system where they had a list of allowed foods and you could eat as much as you wanted of those, but you couldn’t eat anything else. It seems like this is a combination of that idea with some foods you can have unlimited, and then severely limiting junk food by having really high points for it.

  36. I think I’ve mostly had “free” foods today–
    muffin tin frittatas–eggs, fat-free yogurt, tomatos, and garlic
    coffee and biscotti (oops, but only one piece)
    fat-free yogurt and blueberries
    Supper is supposed to be couscous with scallops, sun-dried tomatos and artichoke hearts, but I am seriously tempted to have a Kokonuss ball from Ikea instead.

  37. SM, yeah that’s a good idea.

    HM, I would never be proposing the idea of a “usual” place for Friday nights if the kids were still here/in HS. Too many sports/other activities to spectate at to create much of a routine.

    DS3 actually heads back to college in the morning; DW is taking him. Today he and I did a bunch of errands: some small things at Staples, some new golf shorts for him since I had a coupon that would expire soon, new workout shoes for me (80% paid by a gift card I got as a b’day gift), TJs, Wegmans, picking up a watch I had dropped off last week to have the battery replaced.

    Current Wegmans gripe: at our usual store, the one where they try every idea out first, they now have a salad station where they’ll make any of ~9 set salads or a custom one. That’s fine, but the Caesar they used to make for the same price ($8) when they only made two salads to order was much bigger and IMO therefore much better. At an equidistant Wegmans last weekend I got a much better/probably bigger chicken Caesar for $7, but it was one of their packaged ones, not made fresh right before my very eyes.

  38. A day off and I unthinkingly scheduled a crown for 8 am. So I was up early, and blew three hours of my morning. I was out of town for the weekend, and my kids grocery shopped for me, so I did a partial grocery run for the stuff they forgot, then decided to log in to my Ancestry account, because a cousin had mentioned something he found on there. And there went the rest of my day….

    Houston mentioned schools are closed tomorrow, and DD just got an email that her work is closed as well. They are expecting ice, and with Houston’s entire transportation system seemingly based on highway overpasses, it’s just not worth getting on the road. It’s not supposed to get bad until midday, but I think officials have visions of the Atlanta nightmare from a few years back. It will be short-lived, as we are supposed to be back to 70 by Saturday.

  39. SM- not in the least. Time for the next semester. His “spring” break begins the first Friday in March and though he might travel west then, he’ll probably come home. That’s only 6.5 weeks away. Besides, my busy time at work is beginning so between his nonstandard fast-food work schedule (if he stayed here) and my usual 8a-6p + an hour at the gym, I’d hardly see him.

  40. Fred, that’s what I was hoping you’d say.

    Becky/Houston, it’s supposed to be cold here Wed night (or maybe the night to Wed–not sure). Maybe down to freezing, which it also hit a couple nights ago.

  41. That’s very, very cold for you Texans! Stay warm! Is there the potential for ice as well?

    Is the flu spreading badly other places? It is on the news every night here, and every day it seems another friend, coworker or classmate is hit. The news says that there is a Tamiflu shortage as well. No one at our house has gotten sick yet, and I hope it stays that way. We did all get flu shots, so I hope that helps.

  42. We don’t have a regular hang out place but we do have three take-out/delivery places we rely on regularly to the point that when two of them close for vacation, we are counting the days until they re-open. Two of them are small family owned restaurants and the only way they get vacation is to close down for 2 weeks. DD (a high school senior) is a regular at a nearby coffee shop where she goes to study. They start making her order when she walks in the door. I feel like we should offer to endow a chair or something given the amount of time she spends there.

  43. Our hangout is a local Mexican restaurant. The manager and several servers all know us. We started going there when the kids were little because they could get chips and salsa right away, good kids menus with stuff to color, and soccer is always on the TV. We love their margaritas and their fresh guacamole. My resolution is to cook more, so we haven’t been there for a little while.

    We spent a very idyllic Minnesotan day on Sunday. Kids went to a friend’s house and ice skated on their backyard rink with the snow falling and then we went home and watched the 2nd half of the Vikings game. We rarely watch football but I think everyone in the state was watching and all expecting a heartbreaking loss. Right before the last play we were explaining to the kids that this is always how it goes for the Vikings. And then they won and DH and I were screaming. So fun.

  44. We have grocery stores setting up wine and beer counters or entire sections with tables. The ones at Whole Foods and Dean and Deluca are popular with middle aged people and older. These stores have food at the hot bar and usually have an antipasto and salad section. There is not the pressure to leave quickly or order food. Many people seem to like it.

  45. The one place I go regularly enough to be on a friendly, mutual first-name basis with several of the employees is my neighborhood Chick-fil-A. :)

    Also an independent BBQ place close enough to my office for weekly visits.

  46. Reminded me of this Guardian article:

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jun/08/mcdonalds-community-centers-us-physical-social-networks

    McDonald’s: you can sneer, but it’s the glue that holds communities together

    When many lower-income Americans feel isolated and empty, they yearn for physical social networks. All across US, this happens organically at McDonald’s

    The Natchitoches group, like many of them, sprawls across a corner of the McDonald’s, taking over more and more tables as people join, and emptying them as they leave. Everyone who comes knows each other; have for many years, some since childhood.

    Willard Jones, 93, tries to make it a few days a week. “I love McDonald’s. People are so nice. My friends come here. I see everybody. Coffee is good, and cheap.” He was born and raised here. “I had it real rough growing up, because times were real rough. Lived on a plantation, modern day slavery. When I was a kid, we used to get a special treat a few times a year, and go eat in town. That place was dirty and cost us a lot. Not like McDonald’s. It is clean here.”

    These morning groups reflect America in another way: they are almost all segregated. There are all black groups, all white groups, and all Hispanic groups. Rarely are any mixed. The Natchitoches group is the exception. Mostly African Americans, there are a few white men who come and go.

    In Natchitoches, the Romeo group isn’t the only social event at the McDonald’s. On Tuesdays, there is a bingo game. On weekends, a Bible group sets up in the opposite corner, and offers prayers and Bibles to whoever wants to come. It is run by Stephen Elliott, 63.“We come here every Saturday, and set up in this corner. The McDonald’s offers us room for whoever shows up. We have the space to gather and pray.”

  47. It’s quite cold for here (sunny though). The flu is rampant with one school having to close because so many students and staff were sick. The flu shot is said to be not effective this year. At my kids school some classes have been given an extra srcub down and health notices came home. Snow is predicted for tomorrow and of course schools will wait to see if the snow actually sticks before calling school off.

  48. Dunkin Donuts has some of that. At the one next to my hairdresser, a bunch of vintage car enthusiasts used to meet several times a week in good weather. But most of the renovated DDs and MickeyDs, at least in high rent per sq ft areas, are designed with less seating and/or less elder friendly seating nowadays to discourage that sort of stuff. The Starbucks and independent coffee shops have their regulars as well. We have local restaurants where we are known by name, but we are past the watering hole hang out stage.

  49. yes, that’s true about many renovations reducing dining room space. even in our area of lower real estate costs, I don’t think they’re necessarily looking to kick out the elderly lingerers; it’s just that they’re doing such a higher percentage of their sales through the drive-thru window, that operation is requiring more and more space. Two lanes for traffic, multiple windows, and larger coordinating and staging areas.

  50. We have a regular place in our old town (for date nights) but we don’t have one any more, sniff. We still go back but not as often. :(

  51. Does no one hang out at a “club”? Country club, yacht club, golf club, swim, or tennis club with dining? Or are you guys all doing your fake middle class schtick again?

  52. Malfada – we joined a swim and tennis club and hang out by the pool there during the summer. When the kids can drive themselves maybe they will hang out there more ?
    The Y is another hang out spot in our area. Most Y’s here have a cafe space and serve Starbucks so there is that.

  53. Milo, I saw a similar article about a year or two ago in the Times. They profiled some fast food restaurants in Flushing, which have become de facto meeting places for elderly Chinese and Koreans.

  54. We have a “club” in town – golf and pools and tennis – which is actually owned by the town. I think they acquired it in some tax settlement a very long time ago. So it is the town pool, but has that clubby vibe. It is definitely a hangout, especially for families with kids, in the summer. When we go, my kids see all their friends. There is an adult pool which is where all the seniors hang out in the summer. The rest of the year, the seniors have programs and activities in the clubhouse.

  55. We belong to a pool club. The pool is about 50 years old and looks like you could film a segment of the Wonder Years there. It’s VERY middle class. But we can usually count on finding people we know there through the neighborhood and school, so it’s fun.

  56. but as far as “…with dining.” No. There’s a snack bar with ice cream and candy and sodas. And a lot of people will order pizza.

    My parents belong to a small yacht club, even though they have no yacht. They go to many of the events, but I don’t know that they ever go just to hang out. There’s a commercial kitchen for events (that members staff–it’s a small, tight budget operation for a 100-year-old club in a rural area) but there’s no regular meal service available. I don’t think they have any members under 55 or 60.

    It’s interesting that this question was preceded with the stipulation that clubs are *NOT* for middle class people. That seems to be accepting Charles Murray’s Bowling Alone argument. There used to be a lot of clubs for the middle class: union halls, Rotary, Shriners, officers’ club, enlisted club, Fleet Reserve… Many still exist, of course, and operate on a proportionately smaller scale.

  57. We have a neighborhood ice cream shop, malt shop, and restaurant within a couple blocks. Any of those places are our go-to places. It is one of the reasons we love where we live. I need to find a new Mexican place and should check out the one tcmama referenced.

    If you walk into any Culvers at anytime you’ll see a community of locals shooting the breeze. Much more so than McDonalds.

    Tcmama – On Sunday we weren’t in town, but we were cheering on the Vikings and couldn’t believe they pulled it off. It is exciting to be back because everyone is still flying high over that win. I don’t even like pro football, and won’t be in town for the SuperBowl, but it would be fun to see the local team make it.

  58. We looked into the better country clubs but membership is worth it only if you golf AND use pool/tennis. Some of these places had a long waiting list (that’s what they told me on the phone). I couldn’t wait three years to join. Maybe I can take up golf in retirement. We have nice weather and golfing will certainly help in the friends department.

  59. “here used to be a lot of clubs for the middle class: union halls, Rotary, Shriners, officers’ club, enlisted club, Fleet Reserve”

    Our wedding reception was at a Mason’s hall because one of the BILs was a member so we got a good price.

    I think a lot of people, though, automatically think of “club” as referring to golf club – those places where you pay a hefty membership fee and are required to eat a certain number of meals at the restaurant

  60. I’m probably just hanging out with the wrong crowd, but I don’t think clubs are as big a thing in the Western states. I know there are some, but I don’t really know anyone who belongs. In my childhood there was an Elks Club that some of my friends’ dads belonged to.

  61. “but I don’t think clubs are as big a thing in the Western states.”

    That is probably true. Some of the ones around here have been around forever. According to its website, the Chevy Chase Club (which is one of the more frou frou ones) has been a distinctive social institution since 1892.

  62. I’ve had online friends in Dallas and Houston who were very proud of their golf club membership

  63. When I was a kid in KY, the Junior League was a big thing in the UMC and above set. I had forgotten all about it until we moved to Westchester and I saw that it exists here too. Is Junior League a socially important membership in your neck of the woods.

  64. We have some neighbors diagonally behind us through the woods. She talks about the Junior League. They’re about our ages, they’re nice enough, and they seem to like us fine, but they’re socially very uptight sticks in the mud. Especially her. She’s the one who, around July 4th a couple years ago, came outside screaming and threatening to call the police when some other neighbors were putting on an amateur fireworks show in the cul-de-sac (and there were probably 30 or 40 people enjoying the show). If the fireworks were happening with any more frequency than annually, I could see that she might have a complaint.

    They drive two Mercedes Benzes. When they first moved in, they asked for a bunch of contractor recommendations. He was positively convinced that my landscaper was out to screw him, and he told me it was because he saw what kind of cars they drove. (Well, if you honestly believe that, get different cars.) They generally seem to think that the world is out to screw them or steal their money, and particularly the working classes.

    When they go away for weekends, they go to places like the Homestead, which is nice — DW and I have gone there for a weekend — but it’s definitely a very old fashioned sort of luxury.

    It’s like they want to be upper class 1940s types.

  65. Mooshi – A friend of mine in DC joined the Junior League. Her inlaws are older government types where that was a thing everyone did. It sounded a lot like “ladies who lunch” (very 1950s or upperclass British) to me. She did a few volunteer activities with them but I don’t think she’s still a member or maybe just not an active one. She works FT which caused a lot of scheduling issues.

  66. Her relatives are also members of a country club. Non-member guests are not welcome. She is a member of a local pool/neighborhood club, which seems more common these days.

  67. “Does no one hang out at a “club”?”

    No. I have coworkers and friends who belong to The University Club, Soho House, etc and have tried to recruit me. I am completely turned off by the whole thing. Some are really old school and stuffy, and others are more see-and-be-seen, and I’m not interested in that either. I don’t golf, so a traditional country club that is focused on golf isn’t interesting to me either. I belong to a couple of professional organizations, somewhat reluctantly, to be honest.

    As far as the “middle class” clubs go – my parents have always been involved in Rotary Club, Exchange Club, Lions Club, an organization for professional women that I can’t remember the name of, and of course – for my mom – her church. I’m not sure if the groups are aging or not – it seemed like it was all old people (older than my parents) that were the most active even when I was a kid. Who else has time?

    @Lemon (and tcmama) – I was on a group chat with all my Minnesota friends on Sunday. Wow!! It was the first game that I’ve watched all year, so I am a bandwagoner only in solidarity with my friends who cheered for the Cubs with me in 2016. It would be pretty cool to have them play in the Super Bowl at home. . Are any of you volunteering for Super Bowl week? I have one friend volunteering as an airport greeter, and another friend volunteering around the stadium/downtown. He sent a photo of himself in his outfit yesterday – quite colorful!

    @RMS – Doesn’t your neighborhood have a whole series of pools and clubhouses? Do you have to be a resident to go? My friend who is your newish neighbor kept reporting back to us which pool she was trying out that week while she was job hunting & spending the summer at home with her daughter.

  68. ” Is Junior League a socially important membership in your neck of the woods.”

    I know it exists, but I’ve never heard anyone mention it.

  69. Ivy, yes, the neighborhood does have pools. You can buy your way in if you’re not a resident, but no one does. I swim there in the summer because i love swimming outdoors. I suppose some families do use the pools as clubs, but I’m out of it.

  70. I don’t know if Jr League is big around here or not. I know a few women who were involved when we were younger (late 20s), but haven’t heard much about it. There used to be this weird club for single women in DC called the Madison Club. Kind of a women’s counterpart to be Capital Club.

  71. I forgot that many neighborhoods and apartment complexes here have their own pools, tennis and clubhouses, so those are places to hang out. There are also communal grills provided so many people use those to grill outside.
    At the apartment complex where my parents rent lots of 20 somethings or 55+ are hanging out by the pool in the summer. Its quite the scene.

  72. We were members of a local golf club ~10-13 years ago, ie for about 4 years. The cost was about $4,000/year all in (included the 5 of us being able to golf anytime as much as we wanted and ~$100/month required spending for food/drinks); this was for our “season” which runs April 1 – October 31, so 7 months. There was no initiation fee. The place was all about golf, no pool or tennis.

    Upside:
    – my kids all learned how to golf, the etiquette. Boring though it may be on TV, like pretty much anything else if you know the game and are ok at it it’s very enjoyable.
    – we (usually meaning 1-3 kids and me) we able to just head there after I got home from work Memorial Day – Labor Day, use the driving range and other practice areas, and then play maybe 3 holes before grabbing a burger at the grill. This happened a couple of times/week during the first years of our membership; great times.
    – the place was very family friendly and once a junior (kid) shot a 55, about 2 strokes above par on average on 9 holes and pass a brief etiquette test, they got their “card” and could go out without a supervising adult. A very easy way to in aggregate log enough golf to make the $4k/yr worth it.
    – I got to know a couple of guys who had kids around the same age and we’re still friends today.
    – I actually was part of the winning parent/kid gold pair one year (DS2 was 7 and carried the team).

    Downside:
    – once my kids got good at baseball, that took up a lot more time in the evenings and on weekends farther into the summer, really cutting into the number of times we used the club in years 3-4, so we dropped it.
    – I got laid off and so we had to cut back on some things; I’ve never had the real desire to go back to it.

    Life’s moments story:
    When we were moving here ~30 yrs ago we were strongly considering joining a golf club right away since I played about every week in LA and really enjoyed it and we figured it’d be a good way to meet people in a new place. We checked out a couple of places and looked at all the pictures of members on the wall. I remember saying to DW “they all look like your dad.” (meaning 50+ … really old).

    Anyway FIL’s advice, which I still value to this day, was that we might want to wait before sinking money into an initiation fee when we didn’t yet know what our lifestyle would be like. 10 years later when we joined it was the right move for us; waiting till then was also the right move.

  73. Bullying question

    There is a group of 3 boys in my 2nd grader’s class who call themselves the “Bros” and say they are a gang. They play pretty rough. A few months ago at recess they were being really rowdy and interrupted my son and some girls he was playing with and somehow my son was on the ground and they were kicking him. I met with the Dean of Students, and she handled the situation well. I found out last week that two of the kids threatened my son’s friend and one boy said the other boy was going to bring a knife into school and kill her. Then this past Friday while playing soccer at gym one or more of them pinched my son’s cheek and left a bruise with broken skin. I’ve sent an email with a picture of the bruise and am waiting on a follow up response. What would you do in my situation? I’m thinking that regardless of how they address this most recent incident that I should escalate by asking for a meeting with the principal and Dean of Students and bring in attorney DH. I’m most angry at the threat my son’s friend received. Maybe I’m being irrational, but I want the kids kicked out of school. DS wants the kids separated into separate classes, which is probably a more mature reaction. Maybe this isn’t that bad of behavior, but since we are at a private school, I feel like it is okay to have higher expectations of what the staff can do. We love the school and don’t want to leave, so I’m trying to think of the best way to handle this other than me going off their parents the next time I see them. Thoughts?

  74. “Maybe this isn’t that bad of behavior, but since we are at a private school, I feel like it is okay to have higher expectations of what the staff can do. ”

    Yes – this is one of the benefits of private school. (of course, that also means that the parents of the offenders can pitch a fit as well) But you should absolutely push it to your satisfaction.

    “I’m thinking that regardless of how they address this most recent incident that I should escalate by asking for a meeting with the principal and Dean of Students and bring in attorney DH.”

    I agree – do this. This is now a second offense, and it is escalating. Time to escalate the response.

    Granted, we are talking about 8 year olds, and 8 year olds should get second and third chances. So maybe expulsion is a bit extreme (although I would feel the same way if it was my kid). But this is very serious and could lead to much worse if it is not nipped in the bud now.

    “I’m most angry at the threat my son’s friend received.”

    I would be too.

  75. Jeez tcmama – second grade?! That’s ridiculous. I’d definitely as for a meeting with the Dean, Principal and other students’ parents. Splitting up the kids sounds like a reasonable option.

  76. I’m writing this from the upper level of our local grocery store, which contains several dozen tables and comfy couches. People get coffee from Starbucks or lunch from the deli downstairs or just come in with their laptops and work without buying anything. There is a group of retired guys who come in most morning to play cards, Bible study groups, ladies who knit together, and a woman who teaches a Spanish class. More than once I have eavesdropped on job interviews. The local Chik filet manager also had regular staff meetings here. High school kids will be here after school and weekends doing group projects.
    Bonus is that after you meet with a friend over coffee you can pick up groceries for dinner.

  77. TCM – you’re not being unreasonable at all in demanding a meeting with the principal & dean of students to see how they will handle this. There must be some protocol established in the rules already. It’d just be better overall even if your DH weren’t an attorney for him to participate thereby showing a united front.

    I’m sorry your son (and your family) is going thru this.

    I don’t know that the bully/bullies will get booted and separating them into different classes may not mean much of all the 2nd graders have recess/lunch together. (I also don’t agree with the too-often used “recess suspension” for bad behavior, since kids and especially boys need to get that energy out somehow.)

    Good Luck!

  78. tcm – so sorry. This stuff is so hard. I would definitely want them split up and kept apart (especially at lunch and recess). At my son’s school, the kids would probably get one more chance and then get tossed out. I think higher expectations when you are paying $ is very reasonable. They can kick the kids out. It should be used as a last resort if the kids don’t shape up.

  79. The clubs here are fairly stodgy, so we’ve never thought about belonging to one. The neighborhood pools are for residents only, and out neighborhood does not have one. That’s ok though. We also don’t have an HOA or dues, so I think we come out ahead.

  80. TCmama, for any response from the school to be meaningful, they’d have to make sure those kids are split up. You know this strikes near to my heart, because of my son. Make sure yours is built up by you and all the teachers so he doesn’t lose his self-worth. Mine was ashamed and didn’t tell me for weeks.

    We are within walking distance of a bunch of restaurants, in what is supposedly a new urbanism neighborhood. We use them mostly for carry out. We used to go to CPK in a mall a few miles away so frequently that when we went there recently, a waitress from back then and the manager came over to ooh and ahh over my son, how big he’s gotten, etc. Usually it was just place to relax, but I recall this waitress being very caring of both of us on a really tough day.

    My parents belonged to the set of organizations Ivy mentioned her parents were in. They weren’t interested in the country club when we were growing up, (dad says golf would’ve taken him away from family too many hours) but the stand-alone tennis center closed while they were empty nesters, so now they been country club members for about a decade.

  81. Starbucks–the one on the corner of the “new urban” area, with a big, showy front, is closing to relocate in a new building with a drive through in the parking lot of the Costco that recently opened 2 miles away. People are up in arms. There is literally a petition to try to keep it open. People are saying the empty storefront will scare away other businesses, and new home owners. There won’t be any gathering place for the community (aside from the several pools and playgrounds, two sets of tennis courts and open green spaces). Property values will drop. Families will wander in a dystopian haze with no one to fill their reusable coffee cups. The sky is falling! Never mind that there is a thriving locally owned coffee shop halfway between the two locations. My sister near Cleveland says a very similar thing is happening there.

  82. So interesting to hear people’s impressions of clubs. I love club life. So nice for the waiters and bar tenders to know you and your family. So nice to run into people impromptu, so many activities for the kids and always a the fall back place to go when you didn’t make plans for mother’s day brunch of 4th of July fireworks, etc. So nice that the kids can get tennis, swimming, sailing, etc. lessons without having to run all over the place… I grew up in a South America country where you couldn’t hang out in the neighborhood because of safety and I felt so free and safe at my club. I also met kids of all ages instead of the strict age separation you get at school. When we were expats in Japan the American Club was a wonderful haven for us and the kids when we felt like “leaving Tokyo” for a bit. Nowadays our club is central to our lives again.

  83. I’ve had online friends in Dallas and Houston who were very proud of their golf club membership

    Like anonymous, ^ is exactly why I would never admit here to being a member of a country club (and this comment of mine neither confirms nor denies).

  84. While none of the city membership clubs are really for me, I can certainly see the appeal of a country club. One of my good friends who lives in the suburbs and is a SAHM spends the entire summer there with her kids at the pool. We used to have meeting at one of the famous local clubs (one that hosts PGA events) because the head of sales was a member. It was very nice.

    I could see joining a club like that in our retirement – especially if there was a lively senior tennis league and a nice pool. But right now – it doesn’t make sense.

  85. Tc mama – I do think it is fair to have higher expectations of a private rather than a public school. That is terrible.I don’t have any other additional advice other than to stick to your guns. One of the worst things about being a kid is that sometimes you are forced to be with these people who treat you so poorly and sometimes for 12 years you gotta interact somehow with this little a$$hole – no escape if your parents don’t have the $$ or power to make things happen for you. Can you imagine working for 12 years with some horrible co worker and you are powerless to leave?

    Unless you live in a tiny apartment, I don’t get the people who go to coffee shops to work and such. I know some people say it frees them from distractions or whatever but it really makes no sense to me. Why would i want to be out tolerating people when I could be at home where everything is suited to my needs.

    We belong to a club but don’t go too much. Probably if I played tennis or golf it would be a place for us. Come to think of it, I’m not a regular anywhere. We don’t eat out a lot and when we do we try different places. They do know me at Lowes!

  86. @ TC Mama, Yes, I would escalate. I would also take notes during the meeting, and ask what the specific plan is to keep kids safe.

  87. TCM, I agree with escalating, especially since it is a private school.

    One suggestion: let the folks from the school talk first, and have them tell you what they know about the situation and what they’re doing about it. Don’t put them on the defensive, at least initially. I think you want to know what they know, and how well they’re monitoring for such behavioral issues.

  88. TCM, I would take it one step further and if you don’t get satisfaction (to me that would be expulsion, but whatever it is to you) that you will go to the police. The kid threatened to kill someone. That is way beyond “kids being kids” or any of that nonsense.

  89. Mafalda – We have no reason to join a club for just the two of us who do not play golf or swim or play tennis or own a boat. In DC when I grew up there were a large pool and tennis courts as part of the various apartment complexes we lived in. When my kids were growing up there were community pools, community rowing, community sailing at our fingertips. Today we go to one of several bridge clubs often, but these are not membership clubs and the games at country clubs are not really competitive. Many of my retiree friends have at least a seasonal residence in a community with clubhouse, golf course, tennis and pickle ball courts, pool, bar, etc.

    I don’t think that our lack of interest in the type of clubs you mention has anything to do with reverse snobbery, but more with an excess of geekiness. Also, I am old enough that the clubs I would have been able to join as a child and even in my young family days were entirely made up of my religious group, and that would have been too narrow a social group for the way I was brought up and wanted to bring up my kids.

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