In the spirit of July Fourth, a day spent honoring the brave actions of our forebears by drinking beer until we puke, I thought I’d turn my attention from food to drink. And to get in the mood, I just cracked open a cold one in my cubicle. I’m also streaming the Phillies game. Ah, the perks of an ad job. Almost makes up for the soul-crushing, pseudo-creative drudgery.

So, I got to thinking about how much I enjoy an alcoholic beverage or seven. And then I got to thinking about the great lengths I’ll go to just to score a free or reduced price cocktail. Why, just yesterday I spent an hour on a random Manhattan rooftop toasting gay marriage. I happen to be for gay marriage, so it was win-win. But the point is, I would have spent an hour complaining about gay marriage at an anti-gay marriage rooftop party as long as there was free booze. Hey, I’m not picky.

Anyway, I got to wondering: what will otherwise rational people subject themselves to for a free drink? I took a little informal poll, and here are 5 answers I found intriguing. I’ll start with one of my own.

  1. Standup Comedy
    When I decided to try standup for the first time at age 36, I figured whatever satisfaction might come of it would be of the bucket list variety (or I’d go up once and immediately get my own sitcom). I didn’t even factor in the drinks! Did you know that even the crappiest beginner comic gets half price drinks at the club? Dude, it’s true. And we’re talking drinks at comedy club prices, which are notoriously exorbitant. I had my fourth show last night, and let’s just say I worked the bar better than I worked the crowd. I’ve never had so many Jack n’ Cokes in my life. I think I’m gonna keep doing this.
  2. Weddings
    The most popular answer by far. I once flew across the continental US to attend what turned out to be a dry wedding. That was 10 years ago, and I’m still talking about it now. Unless you’re the bride, the groom, the mother of the bride, the father of the bride or the DJ, there’s no point to attending a wedding outside of free booze. Especially if you’ve ever been to a wedding before. Even more especially if the couple met online (wait, maybe that’s just me). But please, if you’re planning a wedding and there isn’t going to be free alcohol (or any alcohol), just cancel the wedding. Kidding! Seriously, though: put that information right on the invitation. Up top before the bride’s name and everything. This is information your guests need. It’s way more important than the time and place.
  3. Art Galleries
    We’ve all been there. It’s a random Friday night. Maybe you’ve finished dinner or are on the way to a movie. Suddenly, you’re standing in a random art gallery, thoughtfully rubbing your chin while contemplating a wall-ful of really bad art. Then it hits you: wait, what am I doing here? Take a look at your right hand. It’s holding a free glass of white wine. Ah, that’s right. The siren call of free booze drew you in from the sidewalk. Should you mingle? Nah. Just drink. It makes the art look better. I once had four beers at a back alley graffiti art show in LA, and I swear by the time I left that art almost looked passable.
  4. First Dates
    I love this answer. It’s usually obvious within about 10 seconds whether you have even the slightest interest in the random person sitting across the table. But you can’t just leave, right? You have to at least have one drink. Why? To be polite? Who cares? You’re never going to see this person again. It’s for the drink! Subtract that drink and there’s no way you’re continuing this charade, rudeness be damned. Am I wrong? Ladies, imagine you show up for your date and the dude just wants to sit there. No drinks. You’re out of there, right?
  5. Photographer Shows [or insert relevant professional event]
    Since I took my little poll at an ad agency, I got several answers that probably wouldn’t apply to the world at large. But I think this one can stand in for the type of events we can all relate to. Every so often, a photographer’s rep will come to the office to show off their clients’ work, and the crowds for such presentations are absolutely tremendous. Either everyone I work with is a photography buff, or it has something to do with the free beer. The tradeoff here (pretending to be interested in photography) is similar to the tradeoff at a wedding (pretending to be happy for/interested in the couple), with the added bonus that this one gets you out of work, too. Not only do I not know the first thing about photography, but I’m certainly not in the position to hire photographers to shoot ad campaigns. Has this prevented me from peppering the reps with pseudo-insightful questions while drinking their free beer? No, no it hasn’t.

I think we can all agree that when it comes to free or discounted alcohol, we’ll subject ourselves to pretty much anything, no matter how dreary (frat parties, various religious ceremonies, soccer games). Which, if you were to drink way, way too much and then attempt to make an historical observation, I’m pretty sure you could somehow tie into the Boston Tea Party and the Revolution and our rights as Americans. Happy Fourth of July!


Other musings from the mind of the Unemployed Gourmand: