14 Mar

Once it’s been paid, a cover charge becomes something called a “sunk cost.” That means there’s no getting it back, no matter how much you regret the decision to pay it. Often, sunk costs lead to decisions of the “Well, I’ve paid for this, so I might as well try to enjoy it” sort. Some invariably excruciating experience ensues, ending only when you’ve decided that you’ve “gotten your money’s worth.” That shifting value, such as it exists in a club with a cover charge, is defined by the following equation: Money’s Worth = Misery – $5. Somewhere, an economist weeps.

Well drinks cost another five dollars. Drinks are perhaps more important as props than as drinks. They give you something to do with your hands besides fidget, and they’re useful for plugging that hole in your face once you’ve realized it’s making stupid noises. For the employed, these two roles do not conflict. The bar always sells more. However, I only had enough money for one, and whatever I bought had to last me the rest of the evening.

Imports cost four dollars. Domestics, $3.50. I bought something vile in a dark brown bottle and wandered the club looking for Beth.

At ten thirty, the outside smell of patio sweat and close bodies was still kind of sexy and not sour the way it would be by one. Beth remained elusive. People, by which I mean strangers, by which I mean drinking and drunk people in bars, talk to each other in these situations. Prior acquaintanceship is irrelevant. I know; I’ve seen it. As far as conversation starters go, “hi” has a reputation for effectiveness. I’ve never been able to get the hang of that one, though. I murmured directionless apologies as I shoved through knots of people, leading with the bottle.

Explosive laughter erupted from a particularly large clot of people.

Beth stood in the middle, head thrown back, wide mouth laughing, hands loosely in pockets, conspicuously picturesque. I stood on the periphery, passively interacting, prophylactically holding my beer between me and everyone else. If anyone besides Beth tried to talk to me, I could use it to buy myself a few seconds.

Another woman, tall and aggressively fashion forward, teetered on high heels as she spoke to Beth. Her imbalance seemed the result of enthusiasm rather than drunkenness, but those qualities would become progressively more difficult to separate as the night went on. Her bangles bangled.

“Beth, I’m so glad you found me on Craigslist,” she gushed. “I’ve just moved to town from San Francisco and you’re the first person I’ve met here. You seem like really beautiful people!”


Reevaluation had become necessary. I sipped a few precious and finite milliliters, silently agreeing that yes, Beth did very much seem like beautiful people. Instead of responding, Beth laughed again, firm and unwavering in her heels. In some cavernous mental recess, it occurred to me that between their height and their heels, together these two had something like ten inches on me.

Here is another rule of internet dating: When women say, “When I go out with my guy, I want to be able to wear heels,” they mean what men mean when they say, “No fatties.”

Some new joke passed between them, but I missed it. Beth and I made eye contact.


Leave a Reply


  1. doug the red

    March 15, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    RUN DAN RUN!!!!!!!

  2. Tracy

    April 1, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Wow. You are RIGHT. I will never again give men shorter than me that line. *hangs head*

  3. Dan

    April 1, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    *grin* Aw, Tracy. Don’t be sad!