Photo by: Kirti Poddar, CC Licensed

The other night, I went to a bar called Tailor with two friends of mine, both young enough to remember what it was like to go out drinking and enjoy it, but old enough to know that they’ll pay in ways unheard of to younger, single person.

This is what it takes for me to go out these days:

Step 1. Someone, struck by a wave of optimism mixed with nostalgia, blithely suggests we “all meet for a drink one night.” Hey, great idea, looking forward, blah de blah. Let’s pretend we’re unencumbered people free to dispose of our leisure time as we wish. See you then!

Step 2. She initiates a volley of emails between invited parties in order to come up with a date we can agree upon.

This date is often several months hence, at which time a second round of email badminton begins between friends and friends’ spouses on whether said night is in fact OK. This is repeated until a truly agreed upon date is arrived at and everyone is cced. This may or may not be followed by several phone calls to child care providers, and at least one postponement.

Step 3: The day before the date, research begins in earnest as to where to go. None of us has been out with any regularity in years (our party has six kids between us) so it is unclear which bars/clubs/lounges are still operational. Plus, there’s a lot riding on our choice. God forbid we should go out once every six months and wind up someplace that sucks. Complicating matters is that if one of us has, in fact, been out recently, we don’t want to go to the same spot again. With the scarcity of free time that coincides with available babysitting, you want to make sure that every social outing is a novel experience, at least a guaranteed slam-dunk.

Step 4. We arrive, congratulate ourselves on our choice of venue and spend way too much time deciding on our drinks. Each coctail has to count for, like, five, since we can’t tolerate as much as we used to—whatever we order goddamn well better be good. The other night, I settled on a Santana Sling, which involved tequila, something called arack, and a marishino cherry. Kristin forgot to bring her little key chain flashlight and so couldn’t read the menu in the candlelight. She eventually ordered her regular, rum and ginger ale. Julie held the menu at arms length with me holding the votive and picked something involving smoked Coke.

Step 5. We met at 7 and by 8:30 we’re talking about our children, quoting particularly adorable things they’ve said recently. It gets a bit maudlin. By 9:30, my left eye is twitching, indicating fatigue. We’re out the door by 9:45, and the next day I feel as though I’ve done Jell-o shots at a room-to-room in college. I had but two drinks. We are each down $65 (we ate something, too) but take comfort in the fact that we rarely go out, so hey, big deal, right? We deserve a little fun.

True enough, and the next time someone suggests drinks, I’ll drag my ancient, rotting carcass out to a bar and do it all again, to remind myself that people do, in fact, go out. And I’ll call it fun, even though it feels like a distant cousin to fun. Because if I don’t, I’ll never see my friends and or, for that matter, have anything to blog about. Next time, though, a one drink maximum is in order.