For proper context here, it may be important to note that I never had a drop of alcohol, nor set foot in a bar, nor bought alcohol until I was 35 years old. So it’s somewhat atypical given the entire span of my life that I spent several hours this evening in a bar with a motley assortment of co-workers and complete strangers. After this experience, I’m left with a decidedly wide variety of observations.
Firstly, the noise. While I agree that this was a karaoke bar and music was supposed to be front and center, I have no clue why these places have to be so intolerably loud. My ears are not trained to sort out the tiny strain of human speech among 120 decibels of Bananarama blasting away in the background so for the entire evening I’m functionally deaf. This makes it impossibly difficult to form any sort of conversational connection with anyone without screaming at the absolute top of your lungs. Not to mention, even if you CAN hear someone, the throbbing of the music is an obnoxious distraction to trying to give them proper attention. I have no doubt that half the people who addressed me this evening thought I was some horrid and inattentive lout. I could have gotten more service by far from inviting them each individually for a walk around the block and was at times tempted to do so.
Secondly, yet significantly more horrifying, I’m always humbled by the number of people who address me directly, and politely, and enthusiastically by name yet I have no clue who they are. I typically have some knowledge of where they sit in the company or what their role might be but when someone looks at me, smiles winningly and addresses me and I have no clue who I’m talking to, it’s appallingly rude in my mind and I hate little more than being rude to someone. They deserve better. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to invite the entire company out for one-on-one lunches in alphabetical order.
Lastly, and appallingly, as I looked out across the teeming masses of bar-goers, I had the revelation that some percentage of these people are making important decisions about their lives in this room. Going out and “having a good time” is a key process in human dating rituals. In fact, as I understand it anyway, the dating process often consists of little else except going out for various recreational activities including going out to a bar. In a key way, the dating couples in this alcohol-soaked and nicotine-stained establishment are forming the patterns for the rest of their lives. They’re using this venue as a part of the process by which they choose the person with whom they are going to spend the rest of their lives. Somewhat ironically, those people who are most flippantly irresponsible here and place themselves front and center on the dance floor, have an advantage over those who quietly sit back and calculate how best to word their blog-based response to the evening. The mating and selection process favors those who are wild and irresponsible. This strikes me as a terrible error.
To me, relationships at their heart are about responsibility. At the end of the day, someone has to take out the damn trash. Period. Yet the vetting processing for potential mates, consists almost entirely of recreation. Someone’s ability to sing with wild abandon while drunk, tells you little about their ability to be a responsible partner. In fact, it could be argued that the tendency to embarrass one’s self in public is inversely proportional to one’s suitability as a partner. Yet every day in social clubs all across the world, people make dating and social decisions based on entirely the wrong criterian. I’d suggest that rather than going out for fun to find a mate, perhaps we open clubs where couples can sit down and put together 1000-piece puzzles together. As the couples worked, they could slowly come to realize that in fact the pieces were from 27 different puzzles and therefore impossible to assemble. It is exactly this sort of impossible scenario that is iconic of human relationships. If the art of negotiation and compromise can be learned early on, then the rest, like learning to have fun together and relax, will come quite naturally and easily. As usual, I think we have it backwards. All the couples in bars everywhere getting to know each other should learn to work together first. Then when properly mastered, perhaps they can go out for drinks to celebrate.