Thursday, April 11, 2013

How Much Money Do We Spend at Bars?

I was planning on doing laundry Tuesday afternoon when I got the call from my friends. "We're sitting outside at the bar! Come on up!"

I could hardly resist, on the day the great sports columnist Bill Simmons calls Halter Top Day. Halter Top Day is the day when the weather finally becomes warm enough in a notoriously cold part of the country (i.e., the Northeast) that convertible tops can go down and girls can wear miniskirts and halter tops outdoors.

So it didn't matter that it was a Tuesday; it was finally warm enough to sit outside at The Rambling House. And besides, I could still do my laundry. There's a laundromat right across the street.

Before I sat down at the sun-drenched table with my friends, I dropped my clothes at the laundromat. As I was cramming everything into the $2.50 machine instead of the one that charges $4.50, I realized the absurdity of my behavior. Here I was playing Tetris with my socks and T-shirts so that they'd stay in the machine, and I was about to go drop $40 at the bar.

When I got to the table, I related this conundrum to my friends. They all agreed that spending money at the bar is way different than spending money anywhere else. For some reason.

"Sometimes, for lunch, I choose a $5.50 sandwich instead of a $6.50 sandwich," Liz said. "Then I'll go out and buy a round of drinks for everyone. And I mean everyone."

I concurred. We might as well be saying, "Buy another drink for the strangers!... But don't give me cheese on my hamburger because it costs 50 cents extra."

Mindblowing. This was a group of logical people with good jobs, all agreeing that it's okay to throw money away during a night out. So where is the disconnect? I have a few theories:

Theory #1: Alcohol, or the promise of it, makes people do dumb things.

Drinking makes people throw Lady Logic down a flight of stairs. This theory is the frontrunner for why many people spend like they do (see: spending like a drunken sailor). Still, it's a bit of a flawed theory because the mere possibility of alcohol doesn't necessarily make people spend. For instance, I go out of my way to shop at the beer distributor instead of the deli to save a little money on beer. And we've all purchased Natty Light, boxed wine, Kamchatka vodka, or other cheap alcohol in the interest of preserving funds. So it's something about bars, specifically, that causes people to turn loose their inner ballers.

Theory #2: It's fun, so money isn't as much of an issue.
Laundry sucks, so we don't wanna spend money on it. That's why I crammed my clothes in the $2.50 machine.

But partying with our friends? That's extremely enjoyable, so we don't mind. I mean, really, how much fun are bars?

Sister Skells

Theory #3: Young people are fools.
This is my dad's answer. Like many old cooters, he likes to have a few cocktails, but he usually does it at home or at friends' homes. For him and my mom, it's way cheaper and more practical. To me, it just seems boring and old. I guess I might change my tune when I have to worry about putting kids through college. I'll look back on my days of dropping Benjamins in the Rambling House every weekend as FranT StupidiT.

So why do we spend like such savages as soon as we plop our asses onto barstools? Maybe it's the Irish bartender that puts us in a good mood. Maybe it's the Tom Petty music wafting from the jukebox. Maybe it's one of my above theories or some combination of all three. I'm sure that it's one of the riddles I'll spend a good part of my life trying to figure out. Now give me a pint while I sit down and ponder it.

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