It's got some ridiculously Irish name like Paddy O'Finnegan's or Murphy's and the lighting sucks. All the bartenders look like ex-cons, but you know them and their girlfriends by name. The drinks are overpriced, the floors are sticky, the bathroom walls are covered in profanity and phone numbers. The patrons are either scary, bearded townies or 17-year-olds with fake IDs. It's where you grew up, it's where you felt like an adult for the very first time in your life. It's your hometown bar, and you always seem to love it until you're actually there.
It's summer now, and chances are, you won't have much else to do than sit down in a booth with some friends and a pitcher while you wait for the school year to roll back around. Your hometown bar can get tricky very quickly. Because while it can be fun to catch up with your group of friends from home, it can rehash some long-gone stuff that you definitely could have done without.
Being the gracious and generous human I am, I've created a definitive guide, just for you, to navigate the sticky situations you might encounter during a night out at said hometown bar. You can thank me later. Good luck out there, my brave soldier. And remember it's never that serious — you'll be back at school in no time.
1. Pregame, pregame, pregame
A very old and wise man named Chief Keef once said that he hates being sober. You must take this advice to heart tonight. You are going to see things beyond your wildest dreams, things that will make you wish you were born without eye sockets. You will need to harness the power of alcohol more than ever before. Use it as your armor. Use it as your guide. Use it so you won't have to walk into the bar, see everyone that went to your high school, spend 15 minutes hysterically having an asthma attack in the restroom, and leave immediately.
2. Avoid the high school seniors
You're going to walk in and immediately wonder who let this establishment turn into a McDonald's Playplace. Yeah, I'd say it's a pretty universally awkward experience when you see the kids you used to babysit taking pulls of Skye and grinding on each other like the world is about to end. Keep it cool, though, and remember that this was once you and your friends, way back when. As a general rule of thumb, avoid anyone with braces.
3. Sometimes it's okay to lie
"Wow, I didn't even realize I unfriended you on Facebook, must have been a total accident!" "You look amazing! I barely even noticed the meth teeth." "Yeah, I have a few internships lined up right now, it's just a matter of choosing." "I missed you! Let's get lunch sometime and catch up." "I swear, I never hooked up with your boyfriend sophomore year."
4. Don't go home with your old flame
Want to know where you'll end up? I'll tell you. Hooking up with the person you lost your virginity to on your twin-sized mattress while your old Harry Styles posters watch in disappointment and your parents sleep in the next room over. Those walls are thin, Mamacita.
5. Keep it classy!
If you fall off a table, everyone and their mothers will know the next day. Remember that you simply can't get away with doing some of the stupid stuff that's acceptable at your Big Ten party school. Literally, just calm down, pace yourself, and strike up some good conversation with old buddies. Steer clear of the group of girls bawling in the corner of the bar about how much they missed each other. Don't be that person.
6. Honestly, just enjoy yourself
If you're an anxious wreck like me (and you are, even if you're good at hiding it), I know that going back in time a few years can be a bit unappealing. Remember that you're spending the night out for a reason — and that's to have a great time! The friends from home you've kept over the years are true ones, and they love you. Even if you didn't have a high school experience from an 80s movie, remember that running into certain people isn't the end of the world. Everyone is in the same situation as you are.
7. Don't give your parents a heart attack, remember to come home at a reasonable time
This isn't like back at school where you can pass out in a literal ditch at 8 p.m. and wake up to zero text messages. If you're still living under your parents' roof, you should probably have the decency to be a somewhat good child. Your parents do a lot for you. Don't forget about them!
When summer gets boring and you miss going out, you know where to go. Your hometown bar sucks, but it sucks in a bittersweet way in that it will always hold a special little place in your heart.
Seriously, though, next summer you should probably get a job.