Rejection – it only makes people want something more. We never grow out of this toddler-level mentality. I don't want to hang out with you - yet you still want to hang out with me. Two of my "teammates" naively asked me if I was going to the team happy hour tonight. I declined. Annoyingly, they had a follow up question: "What are you going to do instead?" I lied and told them I was gonna go home and watch baseball.
Two or so hours later, to my great dismay and irritation, one of them walks into the bar I'm drinking at and basically confronts me. Apparently, while walking home from the team happy hour to wherever the heck she lives, she saw me through the window laughing it up and drinking Gin Rickeys with a group of French-African Man United fans I had befriended over the course of my own, personal Happy Hour. She walked in just in time to hear me receive an open-ended invite to visit Cote D’Ivoire; an invite I had earned via a long and spirted conversation about West African players in the Premier League. Her intrusion irritated me on multiple fronts. (1) Fuck! I thought I had gone out of the way enough not to be spotted (2) Now I have to actually talk to this chick at least for a few minutes. Luckily for me the drunken Man United crew started buying her shots and asking her to dance - actions which helped chase her away quickly.
Next morning at work I come in fashionably late per usual. The team gives me an icy stare - expected. Then one of them says: "Next time we want to come with you." - Not expected. Wtf!? I don't know what set of events could have made it any clearer that I do NOT want to hang out with you guys. I turned down the team invite to go drink at a bar by myself. You saw me having 10x more fun with random people than I've ever had with you. I determined that I'd have more fun drinking by myself than drinking with you and that pretty much any stranger who happened to sit in my vicinity and chat me up would have more charisma. I didn't intend for you to find out, but I basically disrespected you in every way.
Exclusivity is a euphemism for rejection, and rejection drives people nuts. From the airline lounge you can't get into to the boy you never found attractive but snubbed you by buying your friend a drink and not you. You want it. You need it! You’ll sacrifice practicality and dignity to land your “prize”, no matter how underwhelming, crappy or ugly.
The Gin Rickey doesn’t tell me about some Netflix show I’ve never heard of but that “I absolutely need to start watching.” The Gin Rickey knows that I prefer reruns of Married With Children and Martin. There’s a zero percent chance that the Man U fans will ask me about some work B.S. There is a 100% chance that you’ll ramble about the exact daily memories my cocktail is trying to numb. So no, hell no, you can’t come with me next time. Furthermore, have some self-respect. You all are pining to hang out with an average bloke who just wants to have a quiet staring contest with his liquor. Sure, in the right company (i.e. not you), my evening might blossom into random, unpredictable good times, but just as often it ends with a solo, buzzed, uneventful walk home.
The question I’m left pondering is this: Just how miserable are these work happy hours!? I guess we’ll never know.