There are many things I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older. Some are very practical, like how to jump start a car, or that there is real value to flossing daily, your dentist isn't just nagging you for no reason. I’ve also learned many things about myself, like chocolate-glazed donuts are wonderful in the moment but will treat your digestive system very poorly in the following 24 hours. I don’t condemn my younger self for not knowing these things, either. In fact, I’m grateful I had to come to these realizations over time. I am a student of life, forever learning just how much guacamole is enough guacamole to eat.
But the most important thing I’ve learned about myself as I quickly approach being a “woman of a certain age” is that bars that do not have ample seating for their patrons are indeed bad bars. The greatest gift I’ve given myself is refusing to go out to watering holes that expect you to stand on a sticky floor or lean against a damp bar all night long.
I am more fun than this essay is projecting, I swear (though typing that out doesn’t feel promising). I don’t need to be sitting down all evening. If I did, I’d be at home on the couch or out at a friend’s place on their couch. But here’s the thing: I need at least the option of sitting. I need a bench, a chair, a stool, if for no other reason than to have a place to lay my coat or purse. Besides, a bar that cannot promise you space to sit doesn’t bring in the type of patrons I want to spend my evening with. I can no longer party with the crowds that dance until dawn. I need at least five people at any given bar to be yelling at one another over a long table scattered in empty glasses they could knock over with a wildly gesticulating hand.
Statistically speaking, bars without ample seating are twice as likely to have bathrooms that are so dark I’m not sure I’m aiming at the toilet while in them. Now, usually that isn’t a problem because I’m not actually using the bathroom when I’m in a bar bathroom. I’m too dehydrated for that (evidently, I'm still learning to drink water while I drink alcohol). I’m using the bathroom to make sure my mascara is still on my eyes and my hair is that of a young ingenue looking to find a man to kiss her. I can’t check in on those things if, luminously speaking, I’m pissing in a cave.
Bars without seating accommodations are also three times as likely to have music so loud you must scream to say simple things like, "The bathroom was so dark I might've missed the toilet." If the bartender has to tilt their head to hear your order at a bar, you are no longer at a bar. You are at a club. Clubs are for lovers and dreamers and people who look good in white denim. Clubs don't need seats. But bars do. Bars must accept the tired, the poor, the huddled masses looking for beer and shot specials. How many times have you been at a bar, pushed against a sweating wall, only to nod along and point up at the speakers to mouth "this song!" If the answer is "too many times," I feel you, my friend.
For many reasons, I'm happy to be in the twilight years of my 20s, but mostly I'm grateful for the self-love I've acquired as I've aged. No longer will I stand for bars with inadequate seating and dark latrines. I'm lucky to appreciate myself enough to know I deserve a seat whilst drinking, wherever and whenever I want it.