The Open Bar Conundrum

The open bar is a curious creature, a rare finding for even the most learned of party-goers and heavy drinkers. But, if you perchance stumble upon one, there is always one bit of ‘theatre’ a drinker must go through. A ritual, if you will, that needs completion for you to enjoy your night. It is the awkward responsibility of getting your first drink.


Guess who is sober.

Everyone who has been to an open bar knows this dance. Someone tells you that the bar is open or the beer is free and you feel celebratory. But then you doubt your source: what if this person was trying to embarrass you, what if they just got a free beer and assumed that it was an open bar, and what if their source was bad. It is a funny little trait: doubt. It brings out the flaws and never trusts what the head is telling you. It pervades every thought, needling its way somewhere behind your eyes, unless you curtail it.

You approach slowly, wearily noting the activities of other parties at the bar. You feel for your wallet and, if you do not pull it from your pocket or purses, you know exactly where it is. The bartender approaches, “What’ll you have?” he asks with a smile on his face. Smug bastard you think as your disguised panic starts to envelop your thoughts. You look over his shoulder and request the cheapest beer, “I will have the four X, thanks.” He pops the lid and hands it to you. Something about that bottle-top popping is harrowing; at this point there is no turning back. For the lucky few the bartender will walk off and serve another person straight away. Other times they will ask you if you need anything else. You are still unsure of your position. “Is this free?” you wonder to yourself.


Not really relevant, I just like graffiti.

You gauge the answer by slowly turning your body away from the bar, keeping your eyes on the bartender as long as you can, skewing your neck at an odd angle. As soon as your body has turned one-hundred and eighty degrees you do what I call “The Olympic Relay” as you quickly power-walk away, a mixture of triumph and fear making your blood course through your veins, gripping that beer like it is the Olympic torch, making sure you will never drop it for it is a symbol of such glory.

The open bar conundrum is a stressful trial for one who is not even on their first drink. Alcohol is wasted on the drunk. The sober have much more need.

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