Movies are fucking liars. Specifically, movies made me believe it was okay to go to a bar alone. They make it look so easy to go out solo. It ain’t. Take Up in the Air. George Clooney and Vera Farmiga have their meet cute at a bar. A bar where they both had shown up alone. Nothing weird about that, because this is movieland. Of course, things go swimmingly, Clooney turns on the Clooney and they fuck like champs. In films, people go to bars alone all the time. And unless they’re "the alcoholic" or "just down on their luck," it usually works out about this well or better. These stalwarts pick up people, or get picked up, or even more likely have an earth-shattering, major revelation. Whenever I watch the protagonist of a film saunter into a bar and coolly enjoy a drink while he thinks about Important Things, I know I am being presented with a totally unrealistic situation in any conceivable real world situation. Because I’ve found it doesn’t matter where you try to go out sans company. I’ve gone to a bar alone in a hip college town, I’ve gone to a bar alone in small Midwestern city; I’ve gone to a bar alone in a big old West Coast metropolis. Same shit, different pile. Connections aren’t made; life-changing things are never realized.
In reality, when you go to a bar alone, you’re not having major revelations, in fact the only thing you’re actually thinking is, "I wish I had someone to talk to." (And I’m not talking about showing up alone to a bar where you’re going to meet someone eventually, and you’re just going to hang for a bit until everyone shows. Nope. I’m talking all-night Lone Wolfing it, just you and your highball, surrounded by people talking, laughing, generally enjoying life, while you suck down more liquid disappointment.) So unless you brought a magazine, or a notebook, or even a fucking deck of cards, your only other option is to stare blankly ahead while you get quietly shitcanned, or try to talk to strangers. And both options are just awful. Thanks to the lying movies, that’s not how you planned it. In the movie fantasy in your head, you were going to walk into that bar, a man/woman of quiet strength, and order something a little fancy, but not obnoxious: whiskey, rocks, say. You were going to sip on that fucker thoughtfully, and maybe catch a glimpse in the mirror and realize something about your own inner strength. Then you would finish your drink, engage in some witty banter with the looker next to you (who was also there alone) and have mind-blowing unprotected sex with him/her in your tasteful car.
What’s really happened is that you fidgeted, eavesdropped on other people’s conversations, went home, masturbated furtively, watched Swingers and wondered in what bullshit Bizarro fantasyland Heather Graham would ever be alone in a bar, waiting for someone to talk to her.
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