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Male Call — Hit bars alone and you might wish you still were

San Jose Mercury News

McClatchy News

Q: If I am a single woman in my early 40s, is it appropriate for me to go to "happy hour" alone? I am capable of doing just that, but have conflicting opinions from friends and family. Some feel it makes me appear desperate or lonely. Well, I am lonely. I would like to get out with the rest of the world, but my friends are married with children and are too busy. I do the Internet dating thing, but feel I need to get out in person more often. I could use some tips on how to develop a social life. — R.P., Orlando, Fla.

A: First of all, of course it’s appropriate for you to cruise the HH scene solo. You are an adult, and you can do anything you want, within the law. Plus, why do you think packs of guys hit the happy hours with such gusto? It’s not for the free mini pretzels (although in a pinch they make for an OK dinner, if paired with beer); no, it’s for the chance to bump into a gal like you on the way to the men’s room or at the bar snarfing pretzels. It’s for the chance at that elusive, skyrockets-in-flight feeling of instant soul connection with a total (super-fine) stranger. That’s you.

So, our official stance is that, yes, Friday night happy hour is the place to be.

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There, now that we’ve satisfied our obligations under the pertinent Man Law statutes, let us be a little more candid.

You are correct that you’ll definitely plug into some swinging social interaction by going to happy hour alone. Just be prepared for the onslaught of junior engineers, real estate agents, disgruntled journalists and aspiring bank tellers who will want to rap. Sure, they might be married, or just on the prowl. That’s why you have to fold up your expectations into an origami crane the size of a toothpick and stick them deep inside that little zippered pocket in your handbag, next to your emergency gnome cap. That’s just the scene, and you’ll need to roll with it.

However, according to our own multi-year scientific survey, such fleeting interactions rarely result in a second encounter, much less a phone number. (Then again, it’s possible that’s just been our experience. Your results may vary.)

A better course of action might be to actually develop a social life (as you yourself suggest). That would mean bypassing the bars and trying something more daring. How about: yoga classes (more and more extremely sensitive guys — if you’re into that sort of thing — are taking these classes, mostly to meet chicks, but still...); volunteerism (seriously, this advice is being given to 40-something divorced men everywhere — ever heard of a pancake breakfast for charity — at the fire house? enough said); bookstore readings (the bookish nerd types are notorious for their overachieving efforts to, um, please you, if you know what we mean. And if you don’t, we have another suggestion: happy hour.)

Male Call answers questions from men and women on etiquette, relationships, men’s style and more. Write to malecall@mercurynews.com.

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