“Have you ever bought a drink for a girl knowing she was uninterested in anything other than getting a free drink?” I tipsily asked my boyfriend while waiting for the light rail. “That’s a good question,” a passerby said as he chuckled at my conversation. I guess I’m not the only one who grapples with this dilemma. To get a free drink or not to get a free drink, that is the question. Now let me explain to you why the question, “Can I buy you a drink?” was on my mind that night. *Cues background music, T-Pain’s “Buy U A Drank.”*
If you were Uptown after work last Thursday then you probably noticed the swarms of nine-to-fivers piling into the EpiCentre after work for the kickoff of Alive After Five. The event was originally scheduled to start on March 31 but was postponed due to rain. With the boyfriend occupied at one of his many extracurricular activities, I was able to take advantage of some girl time with another partner in crime. We’d been planning a get together and thought that going to AA5 would be perfect since we’d made so many memories from going weekly a couple years ago.
It was windy outside, but the rain forecast had subsided, so it almost made for a perfect kick-off. After getting my nails done and a productive work day, I was so excited that I could barely sit still while waiting for the clock hit 5 p.m. The P.I.C. had an after work meeting and parenting duties — that is, taking her dog out for a walk — so I began wandering the office looking for anyone who might be heading that way. I got lucky as I ran into a few co-workers packing up for the walk to Epicentre.
I had never been to AA5 immediately after work, so it was nice to be able to walk right up to the bar without having to fight my way through a crowd of drunken people who tend to hover even after they’ve gotten their drinks. I glanced at the drink menu and was reminded of how drink specials really aren’t a thing at AA5. And after my friend paid $9 for a Red Bull and Vodka, I thought I should limit myself to the $15 in cash I had brought in my pocket before forcing myself to leave.
I checked out the menu once more and noticed what I thought was a “signature” drink for $5. Nope, it was a shot, and it was gross. But I thought, ‘Oh well, here goes $10,’ as I reached for another $5 bill and ordered a Bud Light.
As I was finishing my beer, the P.I.C. showed up and we ordered a beer together — my last drink purchase. We were reminiscing about the good ol’ days when a gentleman butted into on our conversation. Unlike my P.I.C., I tend to have resting bitch face during these unwelcoming interactions so I tried my best to not judge his intentions before hearing him out. But it wasn’t long before he popped the question, “Would you ladies like to grab a drink with me at the bar?”
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. “We were about to head somewhere else and find specials,” I responded curtly. But that wasn’t stopping him. He insisted that “we” have a drink in eight minutes and informed us that he would be right back. As soon as he left we started talking about the awkward interaction.
I turned to her and said, “Should we ditch him? Just make a run for it? I hate when someone buys me drinks and I feel like I owe them.”
“Well, the drinks are free,” she laughed. But just as we were about to say forget it, the ninth minute approached, and the gentleman returned. After awkwardly waiting with him behind the bar, he passed us drinks — the wrong drinks, might I may add — and we walked to a less crowded area. His co-workers joined our circle and soon after that I was regretting not forcing my P.I.C. to keep it moving.
At first I thought he may have been recruiting for a new career venture they’d recently started Uptown. But then I caught the group of friends awkwardly glancing and nodding at one another, as if they were being coached through a pick-up tactic. And that’s when I looked at my P.I.C. and said, “I’m going to the bathroom, do you want to go?” Even she seemed to breathe a sigh of relief as we basically ran to the bathroom in the back corner of the area. And just like that, my “nothing is free” policy was reaffirmed. Talk about awkward.
What are your thoughts on getting free drinks from strangers? I’d love to hear your thoughts, escape techniques, great conversations or horror stories.