The Ten People You Encounter at Your Hometown Bars

Going out to the bars in your hometown is an entertaining affair. Who needs to wait twenty-five years for a poorly organized reunion when you can drunkenly mingle with ghosts from your past as some blacked-out idiot butchers “Friday I’m in Love” on the karaoke stage? Yeah, Facebook let’s you keep tabs on your high school classmates, but cyber stalking has nothing on face-to-face encounters. No matter where your hometown is, the characters are consistent. For example, there’s…

The Guy Who Thinks You’re Buddies: This guy totally has you at the top of his Best Friends Forever List, which he’s compiling and slurring on the spot. But, like, you two have always been tight, you know, and you two had that homeroom together that one time, so you’re just, like, on the list, man. The unholy number of bottom-shelf shots he’s consumed has him convinced that you two have topics worth reminiscing over, because occupying approximately the same physical space for four years and being only vaguely aware of each other during that time span obviously leads to so many thrilling remembrances. He means well but is clearly misguided, and the fact he keeps sloshing booze onto your sneakers isn’t exactly earning him any brownie points.

The Still-Together Dysfunctional Couple: Every graduating class needs that portmanteau’d power couple; they’re always fascinating. You can experience all the highs and lows of a train wreck relationship from the one-step-removed observation distance currently approved by anthropology departments. It’s vicarious, not voyeuristic! This couple will either be engaged in a TMI-infused fight, or they’ll be displaying a form of public affection that resembles mauling. Their love knows no middle ground. It’s kind of inspiring, really, plus it makes you super thankful that you’re dating a normal person.

Your Formerly Unreciprocated Crush Who’s Now Ugly: Should you feel guilty for secretly rejoicing another human’s inevitable progression toward physical decrepitude? No, not if she was a self-centered princess back in the day who refused to ever acknowledged your meager, pimply, shy existence. Feel free to judge her harshly and without hesitation. She’s gone from gorgeous to grotesque, and she knows it. Muahahaha. If only you could wave all those odes you wrote about her in her face and scream, “See? SEE?! See the love we could’ve shared if you weren’t so vain and vapid! YOUR LOSS, HONEY!” That’s what a mature adult would do.

The Dude Who Still Thinks He’s Gangsta: Wearing an off-color fitted hat because of some ridiculous belief that all logos are improved when they’re moved to the Charlotte Hornets end of the spectrum, this guy’s life status is currently, in his Shakespearian words, “Gettin’ money, ya know how it is.” It’s five-to-one odds that there are more throwback jerseys at this dude’s house than clean dishes. He may actually still use the word “flossy” un-ironically, which is impressive because people don’t even use it ironically.

The Unpaid Intern: This person is all about believing in “connections,” which coincidentally happens to be a symptom of the neurons in her brain responsible for equating “unrecompensed labor” with “a crock of utter bullcrap” not actually being connected. I understand the necessity of unpaid internships in today’s economic system, but I can’t for the life of me fathom why someone would brag about being exploited. Of course, she doesn’t call herself an intern; she opts for a fifteen-syllable title that makes it sounds like she does something more impressive than fetch coffee and collate copies. I had a zinger about how she’ll say something “in turn” over the course of the conversation, but unfortunately my unpaid joke writer took a sick day. I guess it doesn’t matter, though, since he’s being replaced by another desperate college grad next month anyway.

The Girl Now Out of Your League: She was once the type of gawky girl that doodled ponies in the margins of her notebook paper. She looked, at best, nondescript (think, as description, Zoey from The Proud Family meets Alex from Modern Family). Now she’s all smolderingsexysvelte and you’re tongue-tied and probably really regretting not treating her more covetously better back in high school. She also has a legitimately quirky and unique personality cultivated by many years of orbiting on the social periphery, which is another reason why she’s now completely out of your league and is giving you a look of pity from across the bar. Tough luck, dude. Good thing you spent all those years pining after aforementioned Unreciprocated Crush instead of actually focusing on girls who can carry on a conversation. Maybe in your next life you’ll be reincarnated as less of a shallow jerk. Just kidding: you only get one life and you blew it. Enjoy being alone.

The Guy Overly Psyched About His Job: He’s passionate about his work, which is commendable as long as his work is noble and not, like, producing snuff films, but he happens to go a little overboard with the detail sharing. What, don’t the tails of his day-to-day exploits and shenanigans enthrall you? How can you not be enraptured by stories of people you don’t know involved a career sphere you have no interest in? Boy, there’s nothing like hearing about someone else’s office drama. That’s the type of riveting scuttlebutt that you’ll cherish on your deathbed. The worst part is that he’s earning a lot more money than you, as indicated by his button down shirt that isn’t a flannel. He’ll probably buy you a beer or two if you pretend to be interested in what he has to say. It’s a manipulative tactic, true, but free booze is free booze. Plus, who are you to deny him the opportunity to prattle on and on about something he loves? That would just be selfish.

The Guy Who Doesn’t Remember You: Oh boy, nobody can induce an existential crisis quite like this fellow. Your whole conversation is an exercise in circumlocution; he doesn’t want to outright ask you who the hell you are, but you can tell the question is absolutely killing him inside. Congratulations, you’ve been relegated to the same brain space normally devoted to recalling the names of one-hit wonders; you’re the ‘Til Tuesday of his high school memories. I hope you can tolerate feeling insignificant and forgotten, because it’s only going to grow worse as you age.

The Reformed Creeper: Everyone was a little unnerved by this guy back in the day. His all-black attire and surly demeanor was especially disconcerting because he’d drop TCM references even though his parents didn’t have a premium cable TV package. If such an award were permissible to hand out, he would’ve won a senior superlative for being the most likely to wind up on a government watch list (you have to admit, though, it’d be far more interesting than “Best Smile” or  “Most School Spirit”). It turns out, however, that you all had him completely miscast. He was actually highly intelligent; you’re far more likely to be murdered by someone you know than a complete stranger, so being antisocial makes a lot of sense in a weird way. He’s now grown out of his angst-filled introversion and is actually incredibly engaging, funny, and loquacious. It just goes to show you that not every quiet kid is a seething pile of warning signs (only, like, 95% are).

The Blogger: This dork is oh-so-eager to tell you about his minimally viewed website because, hey, writing scathing, inflammatory hatchet jobs about cultural touchstones is a sure-fire path to a Pulitzer. He assumes you’ll be riveted by his writing, because he’s somehow under the misguided impression that his A-earning analysis of To Kill a Mockingbird in American Literature class really stuck with you all these years. He insists you should follow him on a bazillion different social networking sites since you clearly need more of his wit in your life. I mean, how will you know how to feel about ice cream without his tweeted opinion? If you’re tired of feigning courtesy for this fool, just ask him why he can’t just be successful like Lena Dunham and then walk away. He’ll be, thankfully, at a loss for words.

Tags: Bars Beer High School Reunion

  • Patrick Allen

    The blogger! Hey, that’s me! Wha-hoo.

    • softgrey

      Seriously! I was like “I’m glad I’m not x, y, or z!” but then I reached that one and had to accept my fate.