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My most pathetic bar story


This month’s Session question (a regular topic posed by a chosen member of the beer blogging world) comes from Steve Lamond over at his “Beers I’ve Known” blog. It’s open season for storytelling: Steve wants to hear our favorite beer stories.

As a journalist, I’m so accustomed to telling other people’s stories that I sometimes feel like I don’t have any of my own, or at least anything as interesting by comparison. When I do hit on something worth telling, people usually end up thinking less of me. So, let’s stick with that. Here’s my absolute least favorite (but other DRAFT staffers’ favorite) personal bar story. Feel free to laugh. Feel free to pity.

It was the fall of 2008. I had moved to the Phoenix area from Northern Virginia earlier that year to work for DRAFT and was figuring out the lay of the land in a city I still don’t completely understand. I didn’t know many people, and certainly not anyone who would be up for hanging out at a bar on Sunday for the chance to catch the Redskins play four depressingly bad quarters of football. What’s a single, comfortably lonely guy to do?

I had to get out of my then-dingy apartment. After a little research, I discovered the sports bar across the street was an unofficial Redskins hangout on Sundays. I made a move.

The afternoon didn’t exactly start off on the right foot. The Redskins were losing (well, at least that’s expected), and the only ‘Skins fans in attendance were displaced Beltway delusional types who think an anemic team still has a shot at the Super Bowl. I prefer to cheer on players with a little bit of optimism and encouragement, anchored by intense skepticism. Plus, one of them told me that I didn’t look like I was from Northern Virginia. I still don’t know what that means. I ended up keeping mostly to myself.

There I was, sitting at one of the bar’s high-tables, feeling mostly down about the general state of this particular Sunday, when two girls approached. They had cocktails in hand, had an upbeat energy that I clearly lacked, and wanted to chat. They were also, as we tend to say in modern parlance, very attractive. Things were beginning to look up.

Forget the Redskins, forget the displaced Washington fans, forget my dingy apartment. Waiter, I’ll have another beer. Oh, these two girls just ordered another round of drinks, too. This is becoming an event. We’ve morphed from lonely people in a bar into a fully functional social unit (note: I didn’t actually say that). Plus, my particular brand of charm seemed to be working.

I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do recall laughs, insightful observations, a little flirting and all the other feel-good perks of conversation between single guys and girls in a bar. They ordered another round of drinks; I got another beer. For a moment there, I started to wonder whether I might end up knowing these two people for more than just a Sunday afternoon.

Eventually, I had to extract myself from the table to use the restroom. I remember walking there with a newfound bounce in my step. I couldn’t have been gone for more than 4 minutes, but when I returned to the table, the girls were gone. Empty cocktail glasses on the table next to my half-full pint. I scanned the room: nope. Maybe they’re in the bathroom? After about 10 minutes passed: nope. Well, shit. I wonder what it was I said?

I slowly finished my beer as the fog of bemusement and depression settled in. Maybe I’ll run into them again some future Sunday and they’ll explain whatever urgent matter cut the afternoon short. Waiter, I’ll take the check when you get a chance. He returned, I looked down and, although the exact amount now escapes me, I remember it being north of $80. Well, shit again.

To this day, I don’t know why I paid that bill in full. Said the waiter: On their way out, the girls noted that you offered to pick up their tab. I responded with an obviously confused “Oh, of course, no problem.” I think I was trying to save face. I’m clearly an idiot. Certainly a rube.

I never went back to that bar again, and a couple of months later, I moved from that dingy apartment into a slightly less dingy apartment all the way across town.

Join in the fun: Tell me your most embarrassing, depressing or generally pitiful bar story.


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at

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