Teens, parties, booze, and choices

for The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

The chaotic gatherings of 13–18-year-olds, so familiar to me in my adolescence as the places I first came face-to-face with beer, pot, and (if everything worked out) someone else’s lips, are now a mystery to me.

When I was a boy, these celebrations followed an age-old pattern: someone’s parents were away, friends gather, mayhem ensues, the police show up, and the crowd disperses.

But the new parties are something totally incomprehensible to the adult male.

Here’s how it works: somehow, a loft or event space is rented somewhere within the five boroughs (Really? Really.), a text goes out minutes before the start with an address, and the hoards begin to gather.

Often there is some form of security and, sometimes, alcohol, so backpacks, are strictly prohibited.

I assume my girls will drink and that any get-together deemed a party will have alcohol (This is the way it has been since the dawn of civilization. I imagine Greek youths, centuries ago, sneaking off with the wine left for Dionysus and partying in the Athenian countryside with their pals).

But these parties, outside the boundaries of known neighborhoods, away from the scrutiny of neighbors, often in places poorly served by public transportation, test my calm, parental reserve.

Clearly others are also concerned. Every meeting with the parent of a ninth grader inspired the question, “Is your child going to the party?” Comparing notes on curfews and transportation, we share strategy and anxiety with each other.

When my new-to-high-school daughter got one of these daunting texts, she first planned on going with one group of friends who ultimately backed out (a commendable choice from my perspective). But she quickly assembled another small collection, and we negotiated the details.

Because it was raining and there was no easy way to get there, I was permitted to drive her and her friends. As we turned the corner onto the street of the party, we saw the flashing lights of a fire truck and ambulance up ahead. Sure enough, they were right outside the place and there was a freeze on new kids entering.

Whether it was the mass of adolescent bodies visible through the windows, the drama of the paramedics pulling items from their duffle bags, the rain, or the promise of a really good episode of “Saturday Night Live” watched in comfy pajamas with popcorn at home, the girls called and asked to be picked up within minutes of being dropped off.

They chose to spend their evening back at the ranch even after they received word the doors were open again.

I like to think it’s a sign of maturity, or self-realization, or just listening to that little voice inside that led my girl to make that choice.

I think it was the right one that night.

Read The Dad every other Thursday on
Posted 12:00 am, October 11, 2012
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

steve from downtown says:
Scott, you know I'm a big fan, but.. do everything you can to prevent your daughter, age 14-15 from going to one of these parties. soft approach, bribery approach, hard-line if necessary. Driving her there is the wrong message IMHO. I know you love your child as much as I do my 13 yo. These "parties" are potentially lethal, if not corporally, then spiritually. good luck.
Oct. 12, 2012, 3:32 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
i enjoy your articles as well and i am the father of a teen who will be 'just seventeen...' and am pretty lucky she has called to come get her when she felt things were not good and will not go to things with kids she knows are into things.. if your kids want to do stuff they will find a way (we all did - 70's and teen years in brooklyn - literally smoked with priest and cops) they seem good but let them deal but you cut the cards
Oct. 12, 2012, 9:46 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!