As a high school senior, I hated my curfew. I resented that my parents imposed it, rebelled when they enforced it and came up with plenty of ways to elude it. (Yes, Mom--for all those times I told you I was going to a sleepover and then rolled into the house at 4 a.m., claiming I just felt like sleeping in my own bed, I'm sorry.) And that's just how I feel about that Philadelphia law requiring bars to stop serving me at 2 a.m.
I know I'm not just speaking for myself here. Every night hundreds of Philadelphians get out of their restaurant jobs late and want what we all want when we get out of work: a cocktail with friends and some time to unwind. For most people this is called happy hour. For us it's called a challenge. Because by the time we finally peel off our food-spattered uniforms and make our way out the door, the bars are closing.
But we're a resourceful bunch. And we've got a couple cocktail-conniving tricks up our sleeves.
Occasionally someone will volunteer to host an after-hours shindig at their apartment. Usually this is the person who has: a) a big cool apartment they don't mind deep-cleaning in the morning, b) a lot of liquor lying around that they'd like consumed immediately, or c) a vendetta against a sleeping roommate and a devious plan to gather the noisiest, most raucous people possible in a confined space to prevent anyone within earshot from getting any rest. We descend on the proffered apartment like a mobile frat party and leave around dawn, empty bottles and countless stubbed-out cigarettes in our wake.
If no one steps up with an apartment, the next move is a little string-pulling: Who do we know who owns a restaurant and won't mind illegally staying open for us for a few hours? We promise to be quiet. We promise to be good. We promise to tip heavily. Typically we're good for only that last promise, but in any event, we promise to be a good time.
When it works out, this option is a thing of beauty. One Center City restaurant celebrated closing its doors for good with a week's worth of nights like these, and anyone who was there still talks about the fireworks that were set off in the back of the dining room and the way the bouncer and some of the cooks used the soda guns to turn the bar into a slip-and-slide. Or so I've heard.
Finally there's that last act of desperation: the after-hours bars. Places known by only one name. Places where those of us who didn't score a hookup at last call go to drown our sorrows. Places where you're never quite sure you should be until you have that "one more drink," and suddenly the hot dog water looks delicious. And we all know how that ends.
So Philadelphia, if you're listening, I'm not going to make it home for curfew tonight. Someone's having a sleepover, and I'll be staying out late.