Happy Hour Neophytes (or "Slamming Coke With Few New Bros")

I'd never been to a happy hour, mostly because I don't drink but also because I'm only truly happy when someone's playing Color Me Badd really loud, which has happened only rarely at happy hours in the past twenty years. But I really want to be a "team player" with my new colleagues, so I sycophantically followed a large cadre to a bar in DC after work one Friday.

I tried to look cool, like I do this kind of stuff all the time. Tried not to look confused at the variety of hoses snaking from nozzles to deep wells of beer in the dark bowels beneath the counter. Tried not to get distracted by the subtitled golf tournament on the big flat screen behind the bar. No one else was watching the aristocratic men in silly white trousers or reading the subtitles -- must not be cool to do that at happy hours. Tried not to feel dismayed and panicky that no one was sitting at those perfectly good tables and booths. We have to stand for the whole hour?

A watched a couple veterans go before me. Belly up to the bar. Order a drink. Throw down your credit card. Sign the curly receipt. Take one immediate drink. If you quickly strike up a conversation, wait several minutes before taking another drink. If no one wants to talk to you, look cool, take another quick drink, and casually watch golf. Check. This is easy.

So I bellied up to the bar. Ordered a Coke. Bartender guy with edgy tattoos up and down his forearm expertly pointed a nozzle down my glass and filled it. I undid the wrist buttons on my dress shirt and rolled it up to display the edgy moles up and down my forearm, so just so bartender guy knew he wasn't the only edgy one around. I slammed a shot of my Coke and looked around for other edgy diplomats with whom I could discuss edgy topics, like do you think Japanese is harder than Mandarin and what's up with Snoop Lion?

I decided I'd go ahead and order dinner as long as I'm here. Burger and fries, please. I got all the trimmings on the burger because I don't need my new colleagues making fun of me for eating plain hamburgers. But this is where I blew it on the whole happy hour etiquette thing -- I don't think you're supposed to order entrees at happy hours.

A waiter brought me my massive plate with a pile of fries and a yurt of a hamburger while I was acting cool with a few new bros, nursing my Coke, you know? The waiter left and I was standing there holding a huge plate, and a curtain of silence sort of fell on the circle of few new bros. "So, you gonna eat that?" one of them said. "Yeah, I guess," I said as casually as I could. I plucked a fry from the pile like it was a Jenga piece and munched it. My new bros seemed to figure I was cool standing there holding a big entree instead of a drink, so conversation resumed.

But I ran into trouble when I finished my fries and started sizing up my burger. How am I going to eat this massive burger yurt one-handed? I thought. Like any good juris doctor I analyzed the problem from every angle. There was no solution. It couldn't be done. I had no choice. I excused myself from the circle of few new bros, parked it at the empty bar, and ate my burger alone while watching golf. That's how awesome I am.