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It’s a Friday night, and the group text has failed you.
You had a long week cranking out reports, clandestinely reading Game of Thrones fan theories, and helping your Baby Boomer boss learn how to open email attachments. Now you’re ready to let your hair down a little.
So you fired out a feeler to the group text. The responses slowly roll in — two guys are hanging out with their girlfriends. One dude has some type of vague function in the morning. The maniac you can always count on is out of town. The rest of the replies are just as disheartening. It looks like another long Friday night of filling your heart’s entertainment void with Father Netflix.
But something weird happens right around the time you crack open the third Pacifico. You’re on your fifth episode of Archer and the clock reads 8:30, but you feel the hairs on the back of your neck start to prick up in some kind of primal response. You become aware of some far-off drum beat, ancient and tribal. The full moon slides out from behind a cloud. Your pulse quickens. Your pupils dilate. Your fingers twitch.
This will not be a normal night on the couch consuming entertainment. Oh, no. Tonight is different. Tonight, you will explore the depths of your soul and the mystic waters of the psyche. You’re about to embark on the Sacred Journey. Tonight, you’re going to the bar. Alone.
There are a few different ways that this night can end up, and there are different strategies you should use to accomplish your desired outcome. Going To The Bar Alone is perhaps the last true choose-your-own adventure available to us, we who exist in the sterile confines of the office cube, the majority of our destinies predetermined and sterile, pointing all to the shiny, glistening prison of job, spouse, kids, retirement, death. GTTBA is our wild card, a mix between the laughing Joker and the Ace of Spades up our sleeve. It’s the modern day Odyssey, where monsters peer around every corner, beautiful sirens can sing us to our doom, and we can lose our heads with the lotus eaters should we so choose, just as long as we make our way back home in the end.
And we will. Because we always do. And that’s why we leave to go on these adventures in the first place.
Let’s talk supplies. Every journey needs provisions, and the ones needed here are just as vital. One of the keys to GTTBA is proper preparation at your own house. You must get good and sauced at your house or this voyage will be a costly failure. Whether your drink turns to true grog like whiskey or rum, or you decide to brave the frothy foam of an IPA or Coors Banquet, you must whip the waters of your soul into a frenzy at your home base so you can christen your vessel and begin your voyage.
So now you’ve toasted to sailors fallen at your port, you’ve hoisted the flag, and you’re ready to set sail. What’s your desired destination? Are you hoping to bring a trophy back with you, a siren of your own? Set your compass to an island with dancing and darkness, where the customs of the natives grooving to the tribal rhythms will ensure that you no longer are sailing with a skeleton crew and you can fully embrace the siren’s call. Tequila will flow here, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the thrill of the hunt, but even if you strike out a few times, the chase itself is always rewarding.
If new crew members and longer adventures are what you seek, go to an island renowned for its entertainment. Set up near a pool table with a pitcher of microbrew and mingle with the locals. Maybe you’ll get a game in, maybe they’ll tell you a rumor of a newer, different port that’s ripe for adventure. Maybe the adventure this night isn’t in the journey, it’s the destination that involves you getting absolutely ripped and running through the town with two lesbians, a Hell’s Angel, and a mall security guard. If your night ends up sounding like the beginning of a filthy joke, well, I’d say you’ve found a treasure map.
But there is one voyage that’s the most sacred of all. Hinted at through millennia of Eastern mysticism, this is the voyage of the self. The old Sit-n-Drink. A night where the monkey inside you rattles the bars of his cage and grins, and you let him out for a breath of fresh air. Where you plumb the depths of your soul with each drink of the bottle. You will know this port when you see it; it varies for all of us. Mine is a bar that has a punk rock jukebox and a bathroom with a sink ripped out of the wall; a picture of post-apocalyptic desolation. Yours might have line dancing and a mechanical bull. What works for me might not work for you. But when you get to this bar and sit down on the stool and the bartender draws you up a cold one, you think of the sins of your past and the future that awaits you. You think of loves lost and loves to be. You think of every single damn thing your boss has ever told you, and how one of these days you’re just gonna tell him something back. You think of your deepest fears and how to conquer them, your wildest dreams and how to achieve them. You think of all the voyages that have led you to this point and where the tides will take you next.
You’re probably going to black out around this stage, gesticulating to the barkeep to get you another cocktail napkin for scribbling your notes upon, but don’t be alarmed. The voyage was a success. You know you’ll be fine. Your home port awaits, and with it the trials and tribulations of the modern day family and career. Stretch this night out as long as you can. The bartenders look on knowingly, for they’ve seen this a thousand times before — the temporary madness of sailors on a lonely journey..