An Imagined Date Between Two Straight Men
December 13, 2016 5:11 PM   Subscribe

 
(I actually found this strangely informative, like the Italian song that isn’t in English but is written to sound like it is. It not me, and yet it me.)
posted by Going To Maine at 5:13 PM on December 13, 2016 [9 favorites]


And if you gaze long into the abyss...
posted by Fizz at 5:15 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wish the New Yorker had comments.
posted by kittensofthenight at 5:20 PM on December 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure what the hell to make of that. That may have to do with encroaching middle age or alcoholism. or both.
posted by jonmc at 5:31 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


They spend the night together, indulging in passionate foreplay discussing which seasons of “The Simpsons” are good and which are bad. The later ones, they agree, are bad.

*nods*
posted by codacorolla at 5:32 PM on December 13, 2016 [18 favorites]


It's not the done thing to take turns buying rounds of drinks in the US? In the UK and Australia, it feels completely natural for friends/co-workers/acquaintances to do so. Is that some sort of British peculiarity?
posted by acb at 5:33 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


It is in America, as well. The joke is that in a typical date, men like these would assume to just buy the drinks for their date. Therefore the incongruity of dating another straight man causes confusion.
posted by codacorolla at 5:35 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I once went on a date with a guy who didn't know I was bisexual and when that came up he froze in place and went "uuuuh" while a little processing beach ball rotated above his head and when I prompted him to continue he asked awkwardly if that meant I had expected to pay and how he could ultimately pay without offending my mysterious bisexual sensibilities. I suppose bursting out laughing wasn't the nicest thing to do but what else could I have done?

Yeah, I ended up paying. And never seeing him again.
posted by Mizu at 5:47 PM on December 13, 2016 [35 favorites]


Ugh, yet another story that fails the Bechdel test.
posted by foobaz at 5:52 PM on December 13, 2016 [54 favorites]


They stand at the bar for an uncomfortable amount of time, silently trying to decide who should pay for the drinks. In the end, they each just use their own credit cards, despite the fifteen-dollar minimum.

At a Manhattan bar? Their first drink will clear their respective minimums.
posted by tiaz at 5:54 PM on December 13, 2016 [16 favorites]


I don't think either Matt would own the Game Over shirt (since they are both forced to be feminists and all), but I think one would tell the other that his co-worker has the shirt, and (don't tell anyone this but) the first time he saw it he actually thought it was pretty funny
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 6:05 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


In the morning, each ghosts the other.

two comedy writers are collaborating on a price at the New Yorker, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the heterosexual white men at this place are really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."
posted by Reyturner at 6:14 PM on December 13, 2016 [53 favorites]


Yes, that felt a bit tired, really. What it is about the New Yorker that you have to have been dead for 50 years to be funny in it?
posted by Diablevert at 6:37 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Truly, it is terrible to have your demographic imprecisely mocked. Alas, the curse of living.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:42 PM on December 13, 2016 [17 favorites]


acb: "It's not the done thing to take turns buying rounds of drinks in the US? In the UK and Australia, it feels completely natural for friends/co-workers/acquaintances to do so. Is that some sort of British peculiarity?"

In thirty years of drinking I don't think that I've ever seen it. It's one of those movie cliches that never happens in real life. Or maybe I just have cheap friends.
posted by octothorpe at 7:01 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


In thirty years of drinking I don't think that I've ever seen it. It's one of those movie cliches that never happens in real life. Or maybe I just have cheap friends.

I would say it's happened something approaching 90% of the time I've been at a bar. Especially a crowded bar. It's not really camaraderie or friendliness (well, sometimes we'll buy drinks that way, but not typically), but rather an easier way for people to get through a huge line at the bar itself. A single person takes up a lot less space than 4 people all getting their individual drinks, and can disperse drinks to the entire group more quickly. If my friends and I are doing several bars in a row we might also switch off tabs, so that we only have to close out one on leaving.
posted by codacorolla at 7:05 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


The bars I typically go to don't charge you until you're ready to leave and everyone just gets separate checks.
posted by octothorpe at 7:07 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


but if one person buys the round, how can each person choose which microbrew to get?
posted by rebent at 7:10 PM on December 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Well... yeah. But it's the same problem as a crowded bar for ordering drinks: you have to get the bartender's attention, close everything out, and wait in line the entire time. Having a single tab that everyone orders on, and then having someone else get the next tab means that only a single person has to do that. Especially if you have a big group of increasingly drunk people, and a schedule to maintain. The logistics and rationale behind drink purchasing behavior seems like a very apropo derail for this thread, by the way. You want to straight guy date?
posted by codacorolla at 7:11 PM on December 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


Wait but I'm a woman and most of my dates with straight men go exactly like this...


This is why I don't want to date straight men anymore.
posted by sleepingwithcats at 7:48 PM on December 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


you have to get the bartender's attention, close everything out, and wait in line the entire time

Meanwhile, the rest of the country drinks at places with servers who come to your table and run tabs on 9 separate credit cards. Seriously, I am 44 years old and the closest I have come to standing a round is when going out to dinner with another couple, each couple buys one bottle of wine.

(Or, as long as it's a relatively-equally-well-off situation, my husband starts the tradition of paying the entire bill this time and either you can get the whole thing next time or whatever, we wouldn't have put on real shoes if we didn't like you a lot, we can split or pay the whole thing next time too or you can buy it, whatever.)
posted by Lyn Never at 7:50 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yep that sounds like 90% of standard Introductory Conversation with Straight White American Male at bar I've ever had.
posted by sio42 at 7:58 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not the done thing to take turns buying rounds of drinks in the US?

It's unususal in my long experience of drinking at southeastern US bars. Drinkers, even of same party, are much more likely to run their own tabs, tho buying an additional round of shots for friends isn't an uncommon or unwelcome thing. Only once in a while, among very close friends, will someone buy the round of drinks, and then it tends to be a gesture of generosity, not something that demands a reciprocal purchase.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:03 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


the writers of this piece must know only very exciting queers because this feels pretty similar to an awful lot of dates with two not straight men
posted by zokni at 8:10 PM on December 13, 2016 [12 favorites]


but if one person buys the round, how can each person choose which microbrew to get?

Each person inflicts his personal choice on the group when he gets the round. And then lecture them about how complex the flavor profile is or brag about IBUs.
posted by ghost phoneme at 8:11 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I confess that I don't know why two straight men would "date" each other so I guess I don't really get this. #baffled
posted by octobersurprise at 8:11 PM on December 13, 2016


I promise three deadening minutes on gay tinder would shatter anyone's assumption that straight people own normcore
posted by zokni at 8:13 PM on December 13, 2016 [32 favorites]


a gesture of generosity, not something that demands a reciprocal purchase.
Americans are so awful at this. It's an invitation to a long warm relationship of mutual generosity. Whoever is flush at that moment/is older/has the better job pays the round. Over a lifetime it works out.
posted by BinGregory at 8:27 PM on December 13, 2016 [22 favorites]


The bars I typically go to don't charge you until you're ready to leave and everyone just gets separate checks.

Every so often I end up in a place that still makes you pay for each drink as you order it, which these days seems anachronistic, and it is a big pain if you aren't carrying much cash. Almost everywhere I go has servers and they either take a card when you sit down or just wait until you are done; I presume which way they do it is based on how many dine-and-dashers they get.

The humor in this seemed very outdated to me, beginning with the LOL straight men dress slovenly opening.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:28 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Frank and Charlie went this one better on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. "We'd be two cool straight dudes married together."
posted by lagomorphius at 8:51 PM on December 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


It's not the done thing to take turns buying rounds of drinks in the US?

It was pretty normal on the left coast when I was young and went out drinking in bars. But the problem in the US is people* keep buying you fucking weird shots like there is a prize for novelty. Want a small glass of Jaegermeister mixed with pineapple juice or some "whiskey" they wouldn't have sold in that saloon in Deadwood? Something on fire? A perfectly good beer with a shot of unidentifiable liquor sunk in it? Let Americans buy rounds.

*Also true in Canada but less so.
posted by fshgrl at 9:02 PM on December 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Since you bring up progressive male comedians, I would like to tell you that I am a feminist, like them.

*siren flashes and METAFILTER ALERT light illuminates*
posted by beerperson at 9:05 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


acb: "It's not the done thing to take turns buying rounds of drinks in the US? In the UK and Australia, it feels completely natural for friends/co-workers/acquaintances to do so. Is that some sort of British peculiarity?"

In thirty years of drinking I don't think that I've ever seen it. It's one of those movie cliches that never happens in real life. Or maybe I just have cheap friends.


Going with option 2. I'd say I see alternating rounds happen 50% of the time. Someone stands up to get a drink, the polite thing is to ask if anyone wants anything. If you say yes, you get next round. If it ends up uneven, and there's a large discrepancy, well, that's what venmo is for.
posted by greermahoney at 9:16 PM on December 13, 2016


I don't think that Americans that have never lived in the UK can really understand how much of a cultural norm a round of drinks is. It's not a nice thing to do, it's not a suggestion, it's The Way Things Are Done.
posted by Automocar at 9:45 PM on December 13, 2016 [14 favorites]


It's not a nice thing to do, it's not a suggestion, it's The Way Things Are Done.

Also, if you skip out on a round, you better make good on it next time.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:49 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I like dogs, running, and craft beer, but hey what can I say I'm pretty random haha
posted by zokni at 10:24 PM on December 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


And for people worrying about what you end up drinking when others are buying rounds, you choose, of course! It is the buyers responsibility to remember, and (depending on establishment) to serve the order.
posted by fizban at 11:20 PM on December 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Want a small glass of Jaegermeister mixed with pineapple juice or some "whiskey" they wouldn't have sold in that saloon in Deadwood? Something on fire? A perfectly good beer with a shot of unidentifiable liquor sunk in it? Let Americans buy rounds.

It mitigates this problem somewhat to drink with Americans over the age of 23.
posted by brennen at 11:22 PM on December 13, 2016 [12 favorites]


I resemble these remarks!
posted by STFUDonnie at 11:29 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not a nice thing to do, it's not a suggestion, it's The Way Things Are Done.

Ditto, Australia and Ireland. If you are in a round and go to the bar and get one for yourself and no one else you better be a foreigner who doesn't understand these things. And only do it once.
posted by deadwax at 11:33 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


three deadening minutes on gay tinder

User name! User name! Price: awkward date, possible despair.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:27 AM on December 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


My wife and I even take turns to buy rounds if it's just us out together. And it's all coming from the same joint bank account. That's how seriously we take rounds in the UK.
posted by dowcrag at 2:39 AM on December 14, 2016 [18 favorites]


a minutiae-filled discussion on the mores of buying a round to cover social awkwardness was cut from an earlier draft of this article.
posted by andrewcooke at 2:48 AM on December 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


I, an anti-social drinker who maybe has one beer or whiskey every other month, would likely not last 5 minutes in one of your obligatory-round cultures.
posted by signal at 3:59 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I, an anti-social drinker who maybe has one beer or whiskey every other month, would likely not last 5 minutes in one of your obligatory-round cultures.

Agh, seriously. I drink maybe a beer a week and cannot imagine, outside of the sort of parties I used to go to in my 20s, drinking enough beers in one sitting that the question of rounds would be relevant. Is this more of a thing in places where driving several miles to get literally anywhere isn't an issue? Or does it just make more sense if you spend a lot of time hanging around bars?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:05 AM on December 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Most people don't drink much, but the people who go to bars tend to drink enough that there will either be a culture of rounds, servers, or another solution (e.g. bucket of beers) to the issue of drinking in a group.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:27 AM on December 14, 2016


This conversation between two straight guys is totally unrealistic to me because there's no long discussion about last night's hockey game.
posted by octothorpe at 4:28 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


OTHER MATT: Also, just a heads up, I’m kind of weird.
*holds up spork*
posted by PontifexPrimus at 4:39 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Cute but the swipe at a stereotype of Bernie Bros makes me picture the staff aides from the documentary "Weiner" pitching humor pieces to McSweeneys. The movie is such a great look at the NYC bubble that so many good and bad political ideas come from.
posted by johngoren at 4:51 AM on December 14, 2016


In the morning, each ghosts the other.

What does "ghosts" mean in this context?
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:59 AM on December 14, 2016


What does "ghosts" mean in this context?

My guess is that it means "tears out, by means of vile sorceries, the immortal soul and casts it, wailing, into the twilight world of shadowy anti-life that abuts the waking mortal realm, to wander, half-seen, for despairing eternities," because that's how we use it around here. But, usually, you know, only after really bad dates.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:15 AM on December 14, 2016 [15 favorites]


Means they fall off the face of the earth.
posted by fiercecupcake at 5:22 AM on December 14, 2016


What does "ghosts" mean in this context?

Ghosting is the practice of suddenly and completely ignoring someone you're in a relationship with, however briefly you've been involved. e.g. blocking or not answering your calls, avoiding you in public etc.
From what I've read, it typically happens after a date, or after a few dates.
posted by faceplantingcheetah at 5:28 AM on December 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


I, an anti-social drinker who maybe has one beer or whiskey every other month, would likely not last 5 minutes in one of your obligatory-round cultures.

You can totally opt out of the rounds system if you're not planning on drinking the same schedule as the group. It'd reflect badly on you if you then had, say, five beers to their six, but if it were one or two, you'd be fine. Alternatively, get the first round and drink halves for the first couple, then tag out, or switch to non alcoholic beverages.

And yeah, whoever is getting a round obviously asks everyone what they want and goes up to the bar to get it. It'd be extremely poor form to just buy drinks of your own choice without asking (unless you know the people in question and their preferences extremely well, and to be honest, you'd probably still toss in a quick "the usual?" or "same again?" to confirm).
posted by Dysk at 5:56 AM on December 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I used to go to a bar after work with coworkers where drinks were bought in rounds. And it always drove me crazy because I was usually drinking $2 PBR then and people were getting things like fancy craft beers and expensive single-malts, so it made going out much more costly for me. (Now I am old and dissipated and in the same situation would likely be the guy buying Talisker oblivious to the brokeness of 24-year-olds.)

In true rounds cultures, how is this handled? Maybe I'm just cheap and uptight and the more-enlightened people of the Commonwealth simply don't worry about it?
posted by enn at 6:02 AM on December 14, 2016


Shout out to Rick and Morty!
posted by TheClonusHorror at 6:04 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't think either Matt would own the Game Over shirt (since they are both forced to be feminists and all)

No, they are Reddit Feminists, which, in the way that Reddit Progressives are actually neo-Nazis, are also actually neo-Nazis.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:14 AM on December 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


In true rounds cultures, how is this handled?

In Montana rounds culture a couple of options:

1. If it's just friends and you are drinking your usual drink, we accept it and figure it will work out in the long run, like maybe you buy us a lunch once in awhile; or
2. When someone else buys a round, you slip them a few dollars to make up for the difference;
3. When it's your turn to buy a round, everyone orders a beer and shot that is equal to the price of your drink;
4. You might buy the first round or second round, then after that opt out of rounds because your drink is more expensive and you will just buy your own on a slightly different schedule.
posted by ITravelMontana at 6:27 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have a very unique sense of humor. Hope you can deal with the sarcasm!

Is this from the PUA playbook, because I have heard it so many times from straight men.

Of course the proper response is "no. Goodbye." *blank stare without moving*
posted by fraula at 7:17 AM on December 14, 2016 [21 favorites]


In true rounds cultures, how is this handled? Maybe I'm just cheap and uptight and the more-enlightened people of the Commonwealth simply don't worry about it?

I get the impression that there's generally less variance in drinks prices in the typical British pub than the typical American bar. It wouldn't be the done thing to order a double of blue label on a round (other than your own) but outside of that, the cheap lager might be two quid fifty, and the dearest cask best maybe three quid twenty, so yes, if you're preference is for Carling while all your mates drink best and Guinness, you will be losing out a little, but not substantially enough to be genuinely upsetting.
posted by Dysk at 7:28 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


The article reminds me very strongly of some single, conspicuously Very Liberal men that I know who live in NY. You know, the ones who love Girls and read Jezebel and tell my wife that they can oppress her Because Patriarchy and isn't it horrible that she is so oppressed. And also these same guys treat the women they date like shit and hold paradoxically hyper conservative views re: gender norms when you dig deeper.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:40 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here I don't think they're allowed to give you more than two drinks at the bar to take back to your table. Also, they're technically not supposed to serve anyone at your table if one of you is drunk.

Yay, liquor laws.

Oh and also something about dating, I guess? If a being with these guys is this annoying then them ghosting kinda seems like a plus.
posted by ODiV at 8:16 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Of course I believe women—the number of #yesallwomen tweets I've retweeted would blow your mind—but I don't really understand why they keep complaining. [...] I don't have a sister, but I imagine that if I did I would want her to be paid equally.

TOO REAL.

Here in M'waukee, ime, buying rounds isn't just the done thing, it's the only thing. Someone leaving the group they're drinking with to go order a drink for only themselves just seems rude to me, unless the rest of the table already has full glasses, and I'm always taken aback if it happens when I'm out of town. Where is the love?! MeFites, if you are ever drinking in my company, the first round is on me. Always.
posted by amnesia and magnets at 9:02 AM on December 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh and thanks to everyone who chimed in about how realistic this is. I wasn't sure if it was authentic feeling or if it was like "OMG I can't order any fries, but I'll eat them off your plate." level stereotyping. (I don't date many straight men).
posted by ODiV at 9:13 AM on December 14, 2016



Americans are so awful at this. It's an invitation to a long warm relationship of mutual generosity. Whoever is flush at that moment/is older/has the better job pays the round. Over a lifetime it works out.

So sadly true and not only when it comes to drinks but to anything else like coffee, restaurant meals, etc. Due, I think, to what I observed my immigrant relatives doing as I grew up, I solidly internalized the "long warm relationship of mutual generosity" ethos, and literally no friend I have ever had has shared it. Ever. It feels so cold to me to split a check. I hate it.
posted by HotToddy at 9:38 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is acting like a normal person, rather than listing credentials, out of vogue on dates now? The whole simulated conversation seems weirdly immature compared to the last time I dated about 20 years ago.
posted by smidgen at 9:59 AM on December 14, 2016


The whole simulated conversation seems weirdly immature compared to the last time I dated about 20 years ago.

The basis for comparison shouldn't be the actual dates you went on - it should be the gently satirical columns you read about dating that people believed were so very true.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:10 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


The basis for comparison shouldn't be the actual dates you went on - it should be the gently satirical columns you read about dating that people believed were so very true.

the ones with OMG I can't order any fries, but I'll eat them off your plate?
posted by andrewcooke at 10:16 AM on December 14, 2016


I wasn't sure if it was authentic feeling or if it was like "OMG I can't order any fries, but I'll eat them off your plate." level stereotyping.

It was basically this which is to say it is both a stereotype and a thing that has actually happened to some subset of all people.
posted by GuyZero at 10:18 AM on December 14, 2016


Awww, they have the same Canadian girlfriend, Elizabeth Warren!
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:43 AM on December 14, 2016


Regarding the buying of rounds in the UK, you'll find all you need to know in the excellent 'Passport to the Pub: A guide to British pub etiquette'. There is a specific section on rounds:

Q... why is round-buying so important to native pubgoers?

A. Because it prevents bloodshed.


Seriously, learning this stuff is pretty much essential for your safety and enjoyment in any UK boozer.
posted by punilux at 11:04 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


So sadly true and not only when it comes to drinks but to anything else like coffee, restaurant meals, etc. Due, I think, to what I observed my immigrant relatives doing as I grew up, I solidly internalized the "long warm relationship of mutual generosity" ethos, and literally no friend I have ever had has shared it. Ever. It feels so cold to me to split a check. I hate it.

To me as a Dane having spent my childhood and youth in Hong Kong, the English don't seem great at this either, generally. Haven't been to Wales much, but it seems markedly better in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
posted by Dysk at 11:46 AM on December 14, 2016


The friends I like hanging with the most all try to cover the entire bill when it's time to pay, me included. Mostly we start by saying "this is on me" and someone wins that and the show of wallets at the end is just that, a show. It works out over time, and if you're "down" a few dollars, for fuck's sake, it's a friend.
posted by maxwelton at 11:59 AM on December 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm sort of shocked that buying rounds appears to be so unusual. I would regard it as totally standard etiquette, especially if it's just you and one other person. Maybe it's a left coast thing?

The etiquette also covers some of the other issues raised here, by the way: you can order whatever you want but not something crazy expensive, and if you accept a round you're obligated to buy one later. And if you'd rather order on your own tab, go right ahead.

I was also confused by some of the language in the article, since a "man date" is actually how I see most of my friends these days -- we're mostly all married with kids, so going out requires much more formal and explicit arrangements than it used to. (Needless to say, a man date does not require everyone to be straight or even male, so maybe it's my terminology that's confusing here.)

But really, it seems like this article wasn't so much about "a date between two straight men" but "men treating other men the way they treat women" -- which is worth exploring (and satirizing) but it loses some of its punch by pretending that this is just how straight men are, rather than this is how straight men are with women they want to sleep with.
posted by bjrubble at 12:03 PM on December 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


We were getting take out for lunch and didn't realize until after we ordered that there was a $10 minimum on credit cards and no one had cash. I offered to put all three on my card and they could pay me back later. My co-workers then went over the top thanking me and acting like it was the nicest thing that anyone had ever done. I was really shocked at what a big deal they thought it was for me to front the $7.50 for an order of Gen. Tsos.
posted by octothorpe at 12:09 PM on December 14, 2016


I was also confused by some of the language in the article, since a “man date” is actually how I see most of my friends these days -- we're mostly all married with kids, so going out requires much more formal and explicit arrangements than it used to.

A Mandate for a Man Date is either going to be a hard-hitting documentary on the history of gay rights, a buddy comedy about male politicians being forced to go out together, or a Black Mirror episode that’s a prequel to that one with the pig.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:21 PM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I would have thought a date between two straight guys would be more like

Matt: *Long monologue about his job*

Other Matt: *Interrupts and begins his own, unrelated monologue about himself*

Matt: *Interrupts and etc*

In my experience it's pretty rare to go on a date with a straight guy who will engage in a back-and-forth conversation and expresses some interest in your life and opinions. I've only ever experienced this with gay/bi guys.
posted by AFABulous at 1:18 PM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Back in college if it was a large group everyone generally covered their own check and then everyone threw in for the DDs' food. If it was smaller, we rotated who paid. I'm not sure how we wound up with those rules, it just seemed to happen.

A few friend groups tend to try to out-do each other in sneakily paying the bill. I believe there is some set of rules that my husband understands preventing one from pre-paying, but I'm not entirely sure where the line is. I...lack subtlety after a couple drinks, so he is in charge of managing that.
posted by ghost phoneme at 5:34 PM on December 14, 2016


I felt very conflicted reading this because it is very funny and observant and I really enjoyed it. But I also felt that it might be stereotyping and mocking a demographic that is not exactly "straight men". The demographic targeted here does not seem to be a highly educated, socio-economically advantaged demographic - it seems to be more a working class or lower middle class demographic being targeted. It appears on the surface to be a harmless jab at a more privileged demographic but are we really laughing at straight men or are we laughing at men who are at lower levels of educational attainment and social ability? And yet at the same time I laughed my ass off and really enjoyed it. Hmm...
posted by askmeaboutboardgames at 7:56 PM on December 14, 2016


I read them as tech bros or at least tech bro adjacent? I imagine you can do a lot of projecting with this, but they are on Twitter and Reddit, namedrop Kafka, new media marketing, etc. I don't think they're "not highly educated", they're just clueless.
posted by ODiV at 8:07 PM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


namedrop Kafka

There was a not-very-good animated sitcom back in the late 90s / early 00s that once made a joke about how everyone said that things were Kafkaesque despite them in no way resembling in Kafka. Said show was aimed at high schoolers and twenty something dudes, so I associate more with just dudes of a certain (youngish) age.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:13 PM on December 14, 2016


Yeah, the lack of round-buying in many situations really confused me when I lived in the US for a while. Over here it's just the default in most drinking groups.

A few other things worth pointing out, of course:

1) "Beer and a shooter" is really rare over here. So generally speaking you're just buying a standard drink for people (wine/pint/short + mixer) which makes things much simpler and tends to even out the price as has been mentioned above.

2) We've never had the culture of "and your nth drink is free" which was certainly prevalent in a bunch of the better New York bars I used to drink in. That simplifies things as well. Similarly traditionally you pay for drinks up front (although tabs are more common than they were now).

3) Non-standard drink rounds are rotation-exempt. You want to buy a round of cocktails or shots for everyone? That's your choice, but that doesn't mean everyone else has to accept or that (if it was expensive) everyone else is now required to buy expensive drinks on their own round.

4) When a group gets too large it is perfectly normal for "split rounds" to start. Generally the tipping point is when it either becomes obvious that it is unlikely that a full rotation through the group would happen (so often about the 7ish person mark but might be lower depending on the average drinking rate of those assembled) or it simply becomes the case that a single round would cost a lot (amongst my friends that tends to be the £35/40 point).

5) Among friends who meet regularly, you tend to fall into a standard-ish order of round rotation. I have two regular drinking buddies for example, and although the person who buys the first round will vary (because rounds can't start until at least two people are present) but when they do the nightly rotation order quickly becomes: me - T - N

6) With regular groups, you're less worried about completing a (or multiple) full rotations. Generally speaking you just pick up where you left off next time round ("I'll go first as it was my round last time")

7) If someone arrives just after a round has been purchased and they're joining the rotation then it is customary for the purchaser of the last round to either go back to the bar and get them a drink or (among friends) to just give them the cash so they can buy a drink with it. This is called "finishing off the round" and essentially makes sure that everyone is in an equal place before the next round starts.

8) If you arrive and intend on joining the rotation and see that the majority of people only have a third(ish) of their drink left, it's customary to nominate yourself as the next round getter - the principle being that you're already standing up and moving about, and obviously need a drink anyway.

9) Anyone can opt out of being part of the round rotation without penalty as long as they do so from the start. It's then polite to just offer a basic explanation why - maybe they're a slow drinker, maybe they're only staying for one or two. This is also the get-out for someone who wants to drink triple 15-year-old scotches all evening - basically if you know your drink is going to be double the price of everyone else's you opt out.

An explanation will be accepted without offence - and indeed sometimes (in the "staying for one" instance) the requester may still be told "oh don't worry about it, you can just get me one next time" by the person who's round it is and thus get a "free" drink anyway.

Mostly though I think the key to understanding round culture (the British variety at least) has already been mentioned:

It's an invitation to a long warm relationship of mutual generosity. Whoever is flush at that moment/is older/has the better job pays the round. Over a lifetime it works out.

Rounds, especially amongst people who know each other, aren't about raw cash debt. In ethos they're more George Bailey's Savings & Loan than Old Man Potter's bank. They're a way of pooling resource to make life easier for everyone in the pub (staff and drinkers alike) because they reduce pressure on the bar by limiting then number of people up and requesting drinks at any given time. They also help conversations flourish because they mean the group isn't constantly disrupted by everyone getting up and going to the bar - because essentially only one person is absent during a purchasing period. Indeed bringing the person who just got the round in up to speed with anything key that was said in their absence is also part of the round culture.

Most importantly though, they provide a sensitive and discrete way for friends to socially include other friends when, as was stated earlier, they might be short on cash.

When I was younger, for example, myself and my two drinking buddies all got paid at different times of the month and generally lived paycheque to paycheque. Rounds ensured that we could all go out whenever we wanted still because between us one of us would always have money, so that person just bought more rounds than the other two that night. The other two would then do the same at other points in the month.

These days we don't have that, but right now one of the members in our little group is going through a period of low income. So right now that just means that the other two of us have subtly tipped the round rotation to make sure that we proportionally buy more drinks - one of us always starts it off, for example, and then maybe whilst he's in the loo (or one of us is on the way back from it) we'll "forget" where we are in the round rotation and "accidentally" skip the round.

Now that could seem like charity but it isn't. He knows we're doing it and we know we're doing it but it's not done out of obligation or with a firm expectation of exact repayment of debt at a particular time.

It's just the embodiment of the principle that what goes around comes around. It's a sort of alcoholic welfare state - you pay into the system and don't take the piss with it when you have the money, and in return the system provides you with a basic level of boozy sustenance when you don't. And by doing so it ensures the social wellbeing of the collective prospers.

In a weird way it's basically just micro-socialism. And it's awesome.
posted by garius at 1:06 PM on December 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


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