I got home past one a.m. I think I may have a bit of hearing loss (temporary, I hope), and my clothing and hair reek of tobacco. Yep, that's right, I was at a bar.
It all started when I went to a dinner in honor of our physics department's centennial. Alumni and retired faculty came in from all over, and it was a fairly swanky affair. Naturally, I ended up at a table with a few undergrads, plus the daughters of my academic advisor and her husband, my E&M prof. I had a grand time talking with the older of the girls, BJ, who has a B.S. in physics, recently completed an M.A. in humanities, and will be leaving for the Peace Corps in five months. We knew each other fairly well already since her mom pretty much adopted me when I was a freshman; I was at her house for Thanksgiving dinner last year.
I chatted with my research advisor about the thesis, and he suggested I needed to take a break. BJ then invited me to go out with her to hang out with some other alumni, including a very close friend of hers from her undergrad days and his girlfriend, whom she hadn't met. She suggested I could just go, have one drink, visit for a bit, and then leave whenever I wanted.
We arrived at the bar, where I bought a Coke for myself and a beer for BJ (total cost including tip: $4). Everyone was friendly, even though I was my usual shy self. I concluded I needed to stay longer than anticipated to provide moral support when we learned that BJ's close guy friend, with whom she has had some romantic entanglements and for whom she still carries a torch, is engaged and will be getting married in two weeks. The happy couple were engaging in a bit of PDA, and poor BJ was having a rough night, although she handled the situation with great aplomb (and a substantial bit of drinking).
So I spent a few hours in that bar, nursing that one Coke and trying to politely decline the numerous suggestions that I needed to have a few beers. My advisor would almost certainly kill me if I let anything happen to BJ, and no one else was in any shape to drive her home. It wasn't my ideal evening, but it was surprisingly ok, all things considered. BJ insists we must hang out under less excruciatingly awkward circumstances after my thesis is complete so I have that to look forward to.
On the whole, not bad for my first time legally in a bar. (Once in New York I went with the grad students from my lab to watch a World Cup match in a bar down the street. I had a soda then too, and nobody bothered to check my license to determine whether I could legally enter.)