The Shame of Being Thrown Out of the Redhead


If you’re a Chicagoan like me than you probably already know about the infamous Redhead Piano Bar.  If you’re not from Chicago, all you really need to know is that the Redhead is an extremely cheezy, old-school piano bar where people sit around until 4am singing Billy Joel and Elton John songs loudly while shoving dollar bills into the tip fishbowl on the piano.  Oh, and it’s also a horribly overpriced tourist trap with watery drinks and scary clientele, most of whom are attending some sort of convention in town and looking for some sort of sordid hookup with a stewardess or something. Oh, and they have all sorts of silly rules about what you can and can’t wear, how you line up outside and get in, what the cover charge is, and big burly doormen to enforce said arbitary rules.  Oh, and I love the place for some reason.

My husband absolutely hates it, but nine time out of ten if we go out downtown, we’ll end up at the Redhead long after I should have called it a night.  I don’t know what lures me in every time – perhaps it’s the worn carpeting and the stale stench of cigarettes that a new smoking ban will never erase.  Maybe it’s the frightening bathroom, usually filled with 22 year olds vomiting, complete with the ancient uniformed sad bathroom attendant getting a dollar for a paper towel.  Or, maybe it’s just the thrill of passing the gauntlet of tests and rules and actually getting in only to be rewarded with nothing but the realization that this is a sad little place trying cash in on some former glory no one can remember.  Whatever it is, I’ve been there a million times and each time I say to myself the next day that I will never go back because it is so lame.  But, yet, I return again and again.

Well, maybe this time I really won’t go back because this time, my friends, after getting in the door, I was thrown right back out into the chilly Chicago night.  Why you may ask?  It wasn’t my dress – I had actually been dressed up after having dinner with friends from out of town at a famous Chicago steakhouse.  It wasn’t my attitude (cough) as I was thrilled to be at the Redhead, even more so since the three companions I was with had no desire to go at all and I had singlehandedly talked them into going.  No, it came down to one thing and one thing only:  Mandatory Coat Check.

Yes, the idiocy of the Mandatory Coat Check got me thrown out of the Redhead.  One of the people in my party had a winter coat and they told us that we were REQUIRED to check it at the coat check.  WTF?  Isn’t a coat check an AMENITY?  What if I need something in my coat?  What if my coat is part of my “look?”  What if I get cold?  Well, according to the others in my party I didn’t really have a chance to explain my points as I was told to “Get Out” as soon as I questioned the policy.  Then some words were exchanged and I was led to the “door of shame” and unceremoniously dumped outside. Granted, I don’t remember much about the altercation, but I do know I was just standing up for my rights as a United States Citizen to Keep and Bear Coats.  Er, uh –  I guess my friend’s rights, since she was the one with the coat.  Why the hell should I have to check my coat if I DON’T WANT TO? It’s a FREE country!  I want my coat with me dammit! Um, I mean my friend’s coat.  I guess she didn’t care about it as much as I did.

Turns out that my getting thrown out the door happened so fast, that the friend in question had actually checked her coat to avoid trouble and turned around after receiving her claim ticket to see me being escorted out the door.  Oops.

Yes, I owe her $3.  And I’m never going to the Redhead again.  Well, probably maybe never.