I remember it well. My first trip to the bar was no more or less ceremonious than anyone else’s first time going to a bar in college. Luckily for me, my college town had a slew of “18 to get in, 21 to drink” establishments, aka you would be served if you had a McLovin level fake. The bars knew this, and the students were abundantly aware, as were the police. Everyone made money off of it.
My first bar was some knockoff of a Jimmy Buffet place. They served super sugary cheap bullshit drinks in buckets with the lowest grade rum money could buy. This particular bar would undergo a bevy of name changes throughout my time there, as would many of the 18 to enter bars due to their nature of constant raids and serving underage. It was the best of times and worst of times. Between penny pitcher night, .25 shots and the “fill any container for a dollar” nights, it’s no wonder some high school state champ athletes put on the freshman 30 in their first year of school. Contrary to what I wanted to believe, alcohol has calories and lots of them.
Lately, bars haven’t had the same majesty they once held. I knew that cheap shit college bars were a phase, something that was fun when it happened. Prices keep going up and the service and quality has gone down. Or maybe I just care more about things like quality and service now. Where do you go after college bars? Naturally, becoming a bar regular is the first step, because having a place where everybody knows your name is imperative.
But what happens when your Cheers, Paddy’s Pub, Winchester or Moe’s is losing its luster? At this point, I just feel lost. There used to be a level of excitement when the group decided to hit up a favorite, but now, I feel much more resigned to have a get together at home.
Maybe I went out too much and it’s not fun anymore. That’s what I keep telling myself. It’s hard to justify spending an hour plus at a place that is too loud, understaffed and frequented by questionable people when I only have about five hours each day to do what I want and three hours of each day to feel ready to do something other than fight sleep on my couch.
I know after graduation and being a big boy or girl you’re supposed to do happy hour with coworkers or friends and go to some swanky yuppie bar. I’ve tried that and it is terrible. Everyone is way too excited; I feel like I’m at a rush event or something. The drinks are way overpriced and have fancy names. Heaven forbid they don’t charge you a cover so you can spend more money on overpriced drinks and reheated appetizers. That’s why if I am dragged out, I’ll usually bring a flask or chug a few beers on the ride over.
It’s not that I don’t want to go out, really. Everywhere I go, regardless of where I’m at, the people are either too young or too old. A bar should be what you want it to be: a happy place to celebrate, a place to drink away the bullshit drudgery, somewhere to meet likeminded people of the opposite sex; not a place of forced interaction, façades of some yuppie status or a graveyard filled with seedy locals.
Maybe I’m out of place. I’ve lived here long enough to go through the different phases, from underage college student, upperclassmen bars, to young adult/yuppie fake places. The townie bars are fun but even they offer nothing of substance because if you’re a townie in a college town, chances are you’re either a trainwreck or you’re old and have lived there your entire life. So I thought to myself, “Maybe it’s where you are.” I have been here awhile but anytime I go elsewhere, to another city, town or state, it’s more of the same.
I guess bars just aren’t for me anymore. Taking a bar hiatus may be a good thing. I know my credit card statements telling me I spend too much on things that make me fat (i.e. restaurant food and alcohol) will thank me. I’d like to think it’s some quarter life crisis or something. I know I’ll be back and I’m sure I’ll keep going to bars, but they just don’t do it for me like they used to..
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