Mike Brown: Going Out and Staying Level


Illustration: Drew Grella

Going out to the bar can be such a hassle these days. You have to log off your social media to get ready to go out, then log back in to show everyone in your cyber life that you are ready to go out, then log out to get to where you are going out to, then log back in to show everyone you were out, check your likes at the end of the night, boost your cyber-self-esteem and repeat the cycle. Oh, how the times have changed. But one remaining, consistent factor of going out is getting boozed up. The liquor lubricating the cogs of life in one form or another has not changed for thousands of years.

But what if you need to nix the booze for a night out? Then what? Hopefully, this article will help with such a perplexing dilemma. For some, there may be no point in hitting the nightlife, and this could pose a problem. Feel free to look at it as a problem, or grow up and realize that there are no problems in life, just opportunities for shitty solutions. Start by looking at it this way: If it’s kosher for someone to just sit at home and get drunk by themselves, then it’s kosher to go to the bar and not drink.

First, lets look at some of the reasons that you may decide to stay level for the night. A court order or a judge might stop you. Although a lot of people secretly find an ankle bracelet to be a sexy piece of jewelry, that combined with a breathalyzer on your steering wheel is a pretty good deterrent for getting wasted. Maybe you are just too hungover to drink but are still tough enough to adhere to your social obligations. Maybe you actually have a job and have to work in the morning. Maybe you got chosen to be the designated driver by playing some fucked-up, backward version of Russian roulette with your friends before you guys went out. Maybe your A.A. sponsor ran out of coffee shops and other public places where they could scrutinize your moral inventory. Or, since we live in Utah, maybe you’re Mormon.

Overall, my first suggestion for everyone staying level at the bar is not to let anyone know. I’m not saying that you have to act stupid or drunk. In my opinion, a skilled drinker doesn’t act drunk, so you don’t have to either. No one in a bar gives a shit that you aren’t drinking, and if you tell most people that, they will try to get you drunk. There are plenty of liquids behind the bar that won’t compromise your moral compass later. I’ve learned that if I just order a can of Red Bull and sip on it all night, people assume that I’m drinking and treat me as such, which is nice.

Now, when ordering a nonalcoholic drink, still tip. In fact, you might as well tip more than you usually would, considering all the money that you’ll be saving not racking up a bar tab. Plus, you are paying for a service the bartenders provide no matter what’s in the cup, even if it’s their own pee. That, and most bartenders will give you a nonalcoholic soda for free anyway, based on the assumption that you are a designated driver or some responsible shit like that. That is, unless you are a dick to them or their boss is being a dick and charging for every filled glass.

Another tip for staying sober at the bar is to have fun with your surroundings. Almost all bars have activities that you can enjoy other than drinking. Chances are that you are much better at pinball when you aren’t wasted, thus impressing the hottest chick in the bar with your high score and going home with her afterward. Just kidding, that would never happen. But still, have fun with the dartboard, pool table, smoking patio or this corn hole phenomenon that has seemingly taken over bar life the last couple years. On a side note, do they play corn hole in other states? I’m genuinely curious. Please email me to let me know.

Some other things that you can do to not get fucked up at the bar is to get fucked up on something else before you go to the bar. I’ve noticed that cocaine is cool again and doesn’t show up on a breathalyzer, so there’s that. Also, remember that while navigating the seas of flirtation, you’re probably better at picking someone up when you aren’t hammered than when you are. That can be great motivation to stay un-drunk, too.

Whatever your reason may be for socializing without booze, carry on, brave soul. Always remember that sobriety is just as overrated as is being wasted. There are plenty of dicks who don’t drink and plenty of dicks who do, so don’t worry about it. And if your liver doesn’t thank you, your wallet will.