Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stood Up

My daughter won a hundred dollars gift certificate from ticket master at her high school graduation party a few weeks ago. In case you’re wondering, her school has something called Project Grad. Instead of the young adults wandering off to parties of their own doing who knows what, the school’s foundation raises money for a giant-supervised party. Immediately after the ceremony, they put the entire senior class on busses, have them turn in their car keys, and take them to a local amusement park until dawn. At the park, they have food, games, gifts, a raffle, and virtually all forms of teenaged diversion except drugs and alcohol. Given that we live in a place where the roads are dangerous even in the day time, it’s a great idea.

For most of the summer, our daughter didn’t think much about the hundred dollars from ticketmaster then it occurred to her that she had the thing and she was going to be 3,000 miles away from home in about two weeks. We were a bit surprised to hear that she’d been voted both the most athletic senior and the funniest (one of the better combinations of things to be at that age) . Unlike me, she’s quite funny though we just aren’t used to thinking of her that way. After pouring over the various options on ticketmaster’s web site, she decided that she wanted to go to a comedy club, though not necessarily an athletic one.

Although comedy usually happens in clubs that serve alcohol, I should first confess that we’ve taken her to see live club comedy on at least four occasions. She was either 14 or 15 the first time and yes some of the material was pretty out there, but we had a great time seeing a bunch of comedians whose names we can’t even remember. Last Comic Standing was still hot at the time, so over the next year or so we saw about half of the comedians who had stayed on the show some. My daughter became a fan of Alonzo Bodden and Gary Gulman. Out of the eleven comics or so, Gulman was probably the only one whose material would be suitable for thirteen year olds. Jay London qualified too, but not many 13 year olds would find him all that funny. My wife’s best friend though whose idea of a great movie star is Harvey Keitel happens to be a huge Jay London fan fwiw. Each time, they folks at the door said “Oh, you’re with your parent. No problem.” I don’t know that they were supposed to do that, but she had a great time and whatever “adult” material she got exposed to didn’t seem to affect her that much at a personal level.

I learned a few lessons First, doing tickets online is great, but it’s not so great if you’re trying to use something like a gift certificate to pay for the thing. While ticketmaster lists hundreds of events, not all of those events are actually through ticketmaster. They have various affiliates and you essentially get kicked to their website where the gift certificate naturally doesn’t work. Bottom line, I wound up paying for tickets with my credit card to a club in the South Bay (we live in the North Bay) and telling my daughter to give us her gift certificate and her mom and I would finally get to go to a concert or something now that she was off at college. Of course, there’s the small matter of paying for college that makes going to concerts essentially unaffordable once the parents have the time to do such things.

Second, my daughter told me that the website had a notice that you had to be 18. She’d turned 18 over the summer, so that was helpful. Of course, the friend she decided to bring along happened to be her only classmate who doesn’t turn 18 until September.
We talked about it and agreed that the two of them alone wouldn’t stand a chance of getting into the club, but maybe if I went with them then well you never know. I guess even at 18, Dads are occasionally useful for something.

I check on the show time on the actual club’s website and it says “21 and over only”. That’s clear, but we were stupid enough , based on all those trips to comedy clubs with a daughter who clearly wasn’t 18, to drive down there and try anyway. Naturally, no one at ticketmaster or any club answers phones in person these days so there was no way to check. I left a message anyway.

About half way down, we stopped for sushi (this is California, teenagers even seek out sushi here) and my wife called on the cellphone to tell me that the club called to confirm their 21 and over policy. We drove the rest of the way anyway. This was stupid. My daughter and I persuaded ourselves that whatever the rules had been at the comedy club just might apply to this one despite their stated policies. We did talk about liquor laws working differently in different cities, but I think the bottom line was we wanted to go see comedy and thought the “I’m her dad bit” was worth a shot.

We got to the door of Rooster T. Feathers and waited for what looked to be a group of women from a bachelorette party. One was 8 months pregnant and they asked for a table in the front row. The lady at the front desk was very nice and professional. She asked for ID immediately. I started to explain our situation and she said “Oh year, I talked to your wife on the phone” as in “What kind of idiot are you?”

Fwiw, Rooster T. Feathers very kindly gave us a refund electronically minus a two dollar service fee, likely charged them by ticketmaster. It was a bit confusing because they do have a discount for college students on Thursday nights, but their sign clarified that it’s for college students who are over 21. They seem like a perfectly reputable establishment and if you’re over 21 and live South of San Francisco, it looked like a perfectly nice place to see comedy.

Not to be deterred, we hopped in the car and decided to try Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco where my daughter and I had already gone to shows even before she was 18. Cobb’s policy is 16 or older accompanied by parent. They then stamp your hand so the waitress knows that she can’t serve the kid drinks. There was a huge line at Cobb’s made up primarily of black people most of whom were wearing some sort of cologne. The cover charge was higher than usual. (40/person plus the drink minimum). There was a guy at the door clearly checking IDs and there was a big sign I’d never seen posted there before, “No guns, knives, weapons, or profanity permitted.” Mmmm….were they expecting a rowdy crowd maybe? I noticed that they had more security at the show than the other times as well.

I got to the ticket window and decided to take the pre-emptive approach by explaining that this was my 18 year old daughter and her best friend. Cobb’s minimum age was 18 or 16 year old if accompanied by parent. The problem was that I wasn’t the parent. I learned from the girls that their licenses say “turns 18 in 2008” not 18th birthday on X date, but I feared the bouncer guy at the door and getting dissed by all those urban types in the line. We turned around and headed home.

The girls had wanted me to try the brazen approach of just acting stupid and letting my daughter’s friend show off her “turns 18 in 2008” license, but maybe I thought the bouncer could actually read. Had the best friend been 18 and my daughter 17 years 10 months, we would have gotten in. Mmmmm…..I could have tried to claim that they were both my daughters, but the best friend is white and they’re only three months apart. My daughter is half-white as well, but does definitely looks like my daughter. For whatever reason, it just occurred to me that all I had to do was claim that the daughter’s best friend was also my stepdaughter. They don’t have step parent ID papers. Okay, when they passed out the fast thinking genes, I got the ones that said “Not so street smart”.

We got home near midnight. Seven hour excursion. One sushi dinner, got kicked out of two different comedy clubs (not the club’s fault) , and half a tank of gas and six hours of driving at 4.50 a gallon. But I got to listen to my daughter sit in the back seat talking to her friend for six hours about whatever young adult females talk about (some of it was funnier than most).

From the girls perspective, the evening was a complete bust. From the perspective of a parent whose daughter is headed off to college in two weeks, I’d tell you in secret that it wasn’t that bad a time.



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