The modern bar is becoming a very lonely place. I feel like we never talk anymore. Rather we sit atop our barstools, transfixed by our cellphones, oblivious to the potential company of other patrons. The bartender, who used to entertain us with stories, is busy texting back and forth with his girlfriend meanwhile your friend, the one who called you to come meet at this bar, is totally absorbed in a game of “Angry Birds.” So what do you do? You mindlessly surf the newsreel on Facebook, eavesdropping, stalking and living vicariously through the people who are narcissistic enough to post a narration of their everyday lives.
You could come talk to me across the bar but you are afraid to interrupt my furious index-finger-typing I’m performing into my iPhone, as I frantically email Bar Tab Larry about why my column is late.
Technology has its advantages, but what kind of people are we when we allow a computerized device to transmit or even replace the majority of what once was human communication?
What if we could all just put down the smart phones? Put them away, into our pockets and our purses, look one another in the eyes and just talk. I know that many of us are out of practice so it might take a couple of attempts before we can get past the primitive musings about the weather. But let’s give it a shot. Go ahead. Tell the person next to you an interesting observation or if you cannot think of anything, posit a question in their direction. Use vocal inflection and facial expressions where emoticons would ordinarily be. And if you should find something funny, don’t say “LOL.” You can actually laugh out loud.
Should you find yourself at a loss for words, I’ve put together some discussion topics designed to get the ball rolling.
1- Would you rather have a tattoo of Justin Bieber or perform a nationwide shopping mall tour as a Justin Bieber impersonator? If you get the tattoo, it must be large and prominently placed and you may never get it removed. If you choose to do the tour, you must perform as if the job is a serious endeavor and the tour will last for one year.
2- Which is the bigger taboo: Sleeping with your best friend’s mother/father or sleeping with your best friend’s ex? Assume all players are consenting adults and everyone is single and unattached.
3- You may drink at any bar of your choosing at anytime as long as you wear a giant Oscar Meyer Wiener suit whenever you are drinking alcohol. Or you may wear whatever attire you like but you may only consume alcohol at Stick and Stein. Which would you choose?
4- If you were sentenced to living the rest of your life on only one block of Key West, which block would you choose? Remember, you must live, work, eat, play, etc on only this block.
5- You may acquire the ability to fly but you will lose the ability to enjoy all music. Every song you once enjoyed sounds like a bad Jimmy Buffet cover and every artist or band you once loved now sings as if they are Teletubbies. Would you choose to fly or forgo flying in exchange for normal music enjoyment?
6- You can drink any cocktail you like as long as you sing to the bartender/server a full chorus of Brittany Spear’s “Hit Me Baby One More Time” each time you order a drink. Or you may order without serenading the bartender but you may only order Yukon Jack shooters. Which would you choose?
7- You are dating a person whom you find to be very attractive, intelligent, funny and interesting. It is your third date and for the first time, you go to the person’s house to pick them up. As they open the front door to greet you, you see a living room filled with toy unicorns, stuffed unicorns, unicorn paintings and ceramic unicorn figurines. Your date lives alone so the unicorns can only belong to him or her. Would you continue dating this person? If not, how would you get out of the situation.
8- You are walking down Duval Street when a genie stops you and says that you are going to die unless you drink a potion distilled from the sweaty panty hose of a drag queen and the urinal cake at Rick’s Durty Harry’s. The genie is willing to spare your life and allow you to avoid drinking the potion if you move to Pocotello, Idaho immediately. Is it “Down the Hatch” or “Here I come Pocotello?”
9- You can go on a date with anyone you like, but Bar Tab Larry, wearing a blue tutu and under the influence of much booze, will accompany you and commentate the entire date as if it were a sporting event. He will highlight all your flaws, missteps and all action within said date. Will you still choose to go on this date? And do your chances of getting laid go up or down with Larry’s commentary?