Not so long ago, I turned 21. And I’ve been “using my power,” as I call it, almost every chance I get, even if it’s just to browse the liquor store and not buy anything (which, I’m sure, looks kinda sketchy) or to go into a 21+ bar and grill with no intention of getting drunk. But I still have yet to get the hang of the whole bar thing. Or the inherent … comfortableness everyone has with one another at bars. I make plenty of noob mistakes.
First of all, in general, I have no idea what to order. I’m not going to pretend I was some pristine being and never touched a drop of alcohol until I was 21, but really, dorm drinking (and sometimes even house party drinking) is very different than drinking socially for pleasure. Dorm drinking usually consisted of the cheapest crap someone could smuggle into the dorms mixed with whatever soda was still left in the vending machine in the hallway. Sometimes ice, if you were classy. It usually tasted roughly like rubbing alcohol and Sprite/Coke/Mountain Dew. Badass.
I couldn’t wait to step up to the bar, lean against it all smooth-like, and order a drink. On my birthday, most people ordered drinks for me and funneled them down my throat. So when I stepped up to the bar later in the evening for my suave moment, free birthday drink voucher in hand, I had a mini panic attack when I realized I had no idea what to order. It was the time of night when I was getting sleepy … “Can I get a vodka Red Bull, please?”
Fail. I now realize that if I had a free drink, I should have gotten something expensive and delicious that I’m too cheap to buy myself. But I had no idea what that would be at the time.
So, I’m cheap. I go where the specials are. Except how the heck am I supposed to know what the “wells” or “rails” that are on special are? I don’t want to look like the noob that just turned 21 and ask. (Even though they can see my birthday on my ID, I guess. I still have my pride!) So, of course, I Google it and find out the terms are interchangeable, and they basically just mean a simple drink made with cheap alcohol. Back to the dorms it is!
I’ve also come to realize that normal social boundaries are all demolished when it gets to be about 11:30 p.m. at a bar. That personal space bubble that usually floats around everyone? Gone. Popped. It usually makes me uncomfortable when people I just meet hug me or hold my hand or tell me they love me and we’re going to be best friends forever or demand to get a picture with me as I come out of a bathroom stall because I’m a blonde. Not at a bar. At a bar, that’s perfectly acceptable. (Although, I would be really interested to see that picture I took with the girl in the bathroom. Maybe someday.)
Speaking of bathrooms, not too long ago, a girl sat next to me at a bar that smelled like that nauseating smell when someone leaves a nasty surprise in the bathroom and tries to cover it up with sickeningly sweet vanilla air freshener. Normally, I would have had to get up and leave, but eventually I became immune to the smell because we started talking and decided we would make pretty good friends. I would have probably passed out from the gaggish scent of girl that smelled like bathroom poo cover-up in real life, but in bar life, I not only remained conscious, but discovered that she was quite a nice person. Aw, yay for learning life lessons in a bar.
I still have a ton to learn about being 21. A ton. Like how to deal with creeps that won’t stop pestering you to play beer pong just so you can be “arm candy” for other creeps. And what to order — I’m definitely in a rut with my drinks of choice so far: Long Islands, Jeremiah Weed and lemonades (current fave), and vodka cranberries. (Apparently vodka cranberries are old lady drinks? Psh, don’t judge. They’re delicious.)
Any suggestions? Teach me, oh wise ones.