“It’s my birthday!” So?
“I got a promotion!” Oooh, good for you.
“If I don’t get a drink, I’m going to die!” Who cares?
“I feel like seeing my friends.” Now you’re talking.
I’m of Irish descent, so I’m a member of a group of people for whom the bar is a sacred place. “To many of the Irish, whether in Ireland or in New York City, a pub is not just a bar, a place to grab a bottle of beer or a pint of Guinness stout, dark and bitter, yeasty and filling,” Elaine Louie wrote in the New York Times back in 1994. “In Ireland, a pub is the cultural epicenter, the place where people go at night.”
This is not just true for the Irish. The bar (or pub or tavern or cantina or whatever you choose to call it) is the hub, the meeting place, the social capitol for every community. It could be city hall, if the unofficial councilmen could remember their grand plans the next day. There’s a reason one of the colloquial names for a bar is “watering hole.” Like lions and gazelles in the Serengeti, groups converge there to drink. It can be a boardroom, a funeral home, a therapist’s office, or a place to fall in love, depending on the night. Sometimes, though, it’s just a place to have fun.
There aren’t many places for adults to just go and exist at night. When I was a teenager, I would hang out in parking lots. That doesn’t fly past the age of 19. If I don’t want to do something structured, but I don’t feel like sitting at home in front of the TV, either, where do I go? There is but one place.
And I don’t know about you, but my home isn’t set up to accommodate my friends coming over. I live in a small apartment with two roommates and a cat. For whatever reason, like three-quarters of my friends are allergic to cats. I don’t know what this says about us, but I know that it means that we need a cat-free meeting place. The bar is neutral ground. No one is in charge. No one has to play the host. No one has to worry about “is this a shoes-off house? Should I wash my glass? I wish I hadn’t seen Paul’s back issues of Maxim magazine in the bathroom.”
You gotta see your friends, dude! If you only see your friends on special occasions you gotta step your friendship game up. Unless you both work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, and your only day off is Memorial Day, you can make time to meet the people who care about you at a mutually-agreed upon place for an hour or two every now and then.
Most of all, though, you’re an adult! You don’t need to make excuses for why you want to go to the bar and see your friends. Did Norm from Cheers explain why he went down those stairs to see Sam and the gang every day? No! He didn’t need to. Everybody knew his name. He went there when he got a job, and he went there when he got laid off. When he was happy and when he was sad. He was a grown (fictional) man and he did what he wanted (within reason)!
If this has inspired you to get your friends together tonight, I ask that you give this Irish toast when you all are assembled: “May your glass ever be full, may the roof over your head be always strong, and may you be in heaven a half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”