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Getting four or five people together at a bar becomes increasingly more difficult the further you get from your mid 20s. Priorities change. You and your once lively crew find themselves exhausted on a Friday or Saturday night, unwilling and unable to put an outfit and a smile on and brave the elements to hit a bar where the average age of the patrons around you makes you a little queasy.
So when it does happen – when you’re able to rally the troops and get everyone in the same place at the same time it feels special. It’s a cause for celebration, a good enough time as there ever will be to tie one on. And so you do.
You start trading rounds with one another. This is standard practice amongst close groups of friends unless you’re a total cheap skate, but I’d hope that if you’re over 25 you’re no longer in the business of scamming your friends out of a drink that you owe them.
I’d say that when you’ve got anything less than five or six people with you, there’s just an unspoken agreement that you’ll all go around one by one and each pay for some drinks. You’re all employed. 50 or 60 bucks for a few drinks is a drop in the bucket, and by the time you get through the entire group, everyone is well on their way to being three sheets to the wind.
The only problem is that you’re old. You can’t just hammer shots anymore and those Miller Lites that you used to love so much make you feel bloated now. Everyone is way more picky than they used to be about what they will and won’t drink.
I used to hate buying a round for the squad not because of the money, but more so because everyone was always asking me for something different. If you’re at a table late night you probably don’t have someone waiting on you, which means that you have to go up the bar and keep straight what everyone just told you they wanted.
If you’re in a circle standing near the bar, it’s even worse. You’re shouting over people, there’s probably very little room to move, and it’s difficult to hear. I can remember instances where I would write down drink orders on a napkin because after a few drinks there was just no way I was remembering what everyone wanted.
And so one night I just made a decision. No longer would I bend over backwards to try and remember drink orders. Nowadays, when it gets to be my turn to buy a round for the squad, I shut down any form of listening skills that I have.
I lock eyes with each person as they tell me what they want, pretending that I’m listening, while in actuality there’s nothing going on upstairs. I look interested, but inside my cranial vault there are tumbleweeds blowing over one another.
One person wants a fucking Stella, another wants a dirty martini with a twist and a few blue cheese olives if they have them, your buddy’s girlfriend can’t decide what she wants so she impulsively asks for a shot of tequila, and your beer snob friend wants to see a menu before he chooses which garbage ass IPA he feels like drinking. And me? Well like I said, I’m not even listening. And finally when everyone is done telling me what they want I turn away and start walking towards the bar, a smile forming on my face as I confidently stroll up to the bartender and say “Five vodka sodas, please. And a lemon in each. Keep it open, please.”
The vodka soda is a simple drink. It tastes good, it packs a punch, and it’s not heavy in the calorie department.
It’s a drink that both men and women can agree upon, not overly caloric like a beer but not frou frou like a cosmo. No one is turning down a vodka soda if you offer it to them, which is why I would highly suggest taking a page out of my book and doing this next time you’re expected to buy a round of drinks.
Think about it this way – it’s not like you’re walking back to your table with a round of O’Doul’s or five shots of Malort. You’re coming back with vodka sodas, the most agreeable drink on planet Earth. A drink that even your grandmother would consume if plopped down in front of her. Buying a round of drinks can be a pain in the ass, but not when you say fuck preferences and just order the entire crew vodka sodas. In the words of Oprah, “You get a vodka soda! You get a vodka soda! And you get a vodka soda!”.
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