Happy hour does not discriminate: you, too, can be content sitting on one of those awkwardly tall bar stools, with your feet dangling downward, as your head chases the movements of people from your left to your right. When you witness the face of—what looks to be—a child taking his first swig of whiskey and you overhear the older couple to your left argue about their teenage children, you roll your eyes, smirk, and begin a dialogue inside of your head in response. (Or, I should clarify- I do these things.)
It goes something like:
“Wow, kid, if you think you can drink that liquor straight-up without appearing to have convulsions and ticks in your face, you’re clearly wrong. Take this as a night to get shit-faced with your friends, but don’t dare turn to talk to any of the ladies nearby. Impressing a woman is going to require much more effort than you’re going to have ability to set forth…after just two. More. Sips. And thank god I don’t have a 16-year-old right now. Is that even possible? [Do age calculations in my head.] Nope. Phew. Thank you, Jesus! Although, I am positive that he has zero affect on that aspect of my life. Planned Parenthood isn’t exactly sitting in the Catholic Church’s front pew.”
I say this in my mind because I am alone at the bar.
And that’s OK. There is a time when that is exactly where I/you should be. I don’t care if you’re drinking a fucking Shirley Temple or an aged scotch on the rocks—everyone needs some time to sit and think/sulk/celebrate/reflect/people watch/feel sorry for themselves/etc. Drinking alcohol simply makes any of these processes a bit easier, but if water with a slice of lemon or fountain soda in a tinted red hard plastic cup is your thing, then sip on that straw with dignity (don’t forget, you’re also the one leaving with a cheaper bar tab).
I believe that a lot of people find going out to eat alone to be tolerable, going the movies alone to be uncomfortable (but do-able), and going to a bar completely alone (especially with no plans or chance of running into people you know) to be a risk. The only real risk is when you leave your drink to go pee. Roofies are probably non detectable on your palette, especially after you’ve had a few. Do yourself a favor— avoid the sketchy-ass bars. If you want to take a shower the second you walk through the door, turn your bum around and walk away. Don’t look back. Find a new random place with a large glass window, fluorescent neon Budweiser signs, and outdated sports paraphernalia on the walls. If that ain’t your thang, go for the classic glam of a cocktail speakeasy-esque establishment. Drink that dirty martini and bite those olives.
Sit at the bar and talk to the bar tender. Sometimes they engage in interesting conversations, sometimes they give you pity glances and call you “hun” in an effort to comfort you (regardless if you’re actually happy to be there or not), sometimes they say rude and inappropriate comments, which make you drink that sugary cosmo a wee bit too fast (think ice cream headache but from sugar), and sometimes they pull you up on the bar…
Try new drinks. No one is there to make fun of you or to comment. Don’t limit yourself to the high end, top shelf liquors either…order that PBR for Christ’s sake.
Watch the game. I don’t have cable. The Stanley Cup playoffs almost turned me into a light domestic beer drinking regular. But watching a face-off performed on a large screen TV and cheering alone (but with an entire bar of people) makes for a more exciting night than squeezing your annoyed cat when your team scores.
Sometimes you even meet people…sometimes they are the kind of people you want to meet and other times they are the kind of people you’d assume you’d meet at a bar. Either way, you will find entertainment and you will most likely leave feeling a bit better about spending next Friday night alone, on your couch, reciting old lines to a movie, and clicking open a bottle of a local microbrew (for which the 6-pack costs as much as one pint on draft wherever it was that you went by yourself last week).