A Reporter's Notebook by Danielle Peretore Imagine you are 16 or 17. You are eagerly awaiting or thrilled to have just received your driver's license (also known as Freedom from Your Parents). You're at the age of endless possibilities, of accomplishing the impossible ... and of not being able to get into the ESPN Zone. "Excuse me?" That was precisely my reaction upon finding a very large beefy man blocking my passage through the glass doors encasing the sports mecca in Times Square. "ID, please," he demanded. "Um, uh, excuse me, what?" came my stunned reply. This situation continued for several minutes during which the large man became more and more thoroughly annoyed and realization dawned more and more slowly on my neon-lights-addled brain. Yet all the light which had descended on me disappeared instantly as a child who could not have even reached my hip pushed open the very same door I was attempting to enter with a cry of, "Daddy, can we go to the Ferris wheel?" All too suddenly the light came back, accompanied by a fierce wave of indignation at the most unfair attributes of teenagedom. I awoke from my incited reverie just in time to hear the large man tell my friend, "
all have to be 18
or someone has to be over 21." So that was it, then. As far as I was concerned, I was being excluded for the mere reason of my being stuck between childhood and adulthood. Given that this is a fact I cannot alter without the help of some very intense steroids or perhaps Michael J. Fox's car, I decided to help ensure that no other almost-woman (as ESPN Zone has seemingly decided to deem me due to my lack of wrinkles) finds herself (or himself, for the purpose of political correctness) stuck in Times Square at 9 p.m. with a kibosh on plans for Saturday night. Twenty-eight hours in phone calls, 30 four-one-one calls, and $60 in MetroCards later, I bring you what I would like to call the Almost-Human's (as I figure that a unisex term is most politically correct) Guide to Having Fun Without Getting Arrested in Manhattan. By getting arrested I do, of course, mean the use of a fake ID, a petrifying yet elusive notion to those of us too scared to find our complexions against black and white stripes, and not those of the cute Parisian style. Thus comes the following list of places at which a fake ID is not required, or, as I would like to view it, practice egalitarian and non-discriminatory policies towards those of us who simply cannot help our lack of humanness. Serendipity 3 It's possible you may have read about this place associated with Demi and Ashton. Yes, the Demi and Ashton, of reversed-sexuality trophy-lover fame. The full-human and her practically almost-human boyfriend have been spotted here, as have many more of the retouched crew. The Frrrozen Hot Chocolate here is nothing short of legendary, and the cramped interior is cozy and kitsch despite its tendency to leave you crammed in corners to make room for the huge portions on your table. Preferably, as us almost-humans have been proven to have an insatiable sweet tooth, those portions will have names like the Ilegal Broadway Sundae (the calorie count of which should be not only illegal but also resulting in severe legal consequences). Any almost-human on a shoestring cashier's budget should remember one thing, however: make sure to bring Daddy's plastic for what the Zagat guide refers to as "very adult prices." (212) 838-3531 Dylan's Candy Bar This place is so ridiculously cool that it is only outshined for those of us almost-women by its neighbor, Bloomingdale's. What more can be asked for than two full floors of candy, chocolate, and of course, edible soaps? If you can't find a type of candy here, it simply doesn't exist. Yet again, the retouched crew knows what they're talking about, evidenced by the enormous case on the first floor containing the signatures and favorite candies of dozens of celebrities. Make sure to pace yourself, however: it's just too easy to forget there's a whole other floor to explore. (646) 735-0078. Jekyll & Hyde Club New York In the words of the almost-human sect: this place is "off the hook." The warning sign to those faint of heart outside this theme restaurant based on the play which is its namesake speaks volumes about what it contains. Guests of Dr. Jekyll are seated in his laboratory, surrounded by beasts, ghosts, and oddities. A tour of the several floors of his home reveals a land of dangers and delights, as does the ongoing dinner show. Yet unlike many similar restaurants, the food is more than tolerable, though the check usually is not. One piece of advice to the almost-human crowd, however: leave any clothing items of a trendy nature at home, as my night concluded with a resident "ghost" hopping around from table to table, poking fun at my off-the-shoulder style.(212) 541-9505 The Harmony Atrium Who knew you could rock-climb in the Big Apple? Yet this place boasts over 3,000 square feet of supervised climbing on walls 30 to 55 feet high, including a 50-foot covered outdoor lead wall. And you won't be breaking the bank, either: it costs nine dollars for the first climb, with two tries to the top, and a mere five for any additional climb. (212) 586-5718 ESPN Zone I simply could not resist including this prejudiced domain in my list, given that it is simply too awesome. This humongous Times Square sports heaven includes an indoor racetrack, bowling lanes, a 30-foot rock climbing wall, all along with the usual arcade and video games. There's even a restaurant with high-definition television to keep up with all the latest sporting events. Remember to bring a full-grown human if you'd like to enter, however: I can tell you from personal experience that the large man doesn't budge very easily. (212) 921-3776