Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

The parable of the Cosmo girl and the NYC boy

Posted by digglahhh on 19 August 2007

About a week and a half ago my friend called me at work and asked if I wanted to go out for drinks with him and a few of his co-workers after work. He works in Finance, and probably makes something north of double my salary. When I met the group, he said that they had decided to check out an outdoor bar nearby; they had never been there, but heard good things. “We’ll go for a drink, if we don’t like it, we’ll hit an old reliable spot.” Fine by me; we were off.

My friend said that the first round was on him, he ordered two lagers and the bartender told him it was $14. At that point I asked the bartender when the Mets were due to arrive. Seven dollar beers need to come with a professional baseball game, but he didn’t get the joke and stared back at me blankly, his freshly groomed eyebrows partially raised. I made it clear to my friend that if we decided to stay, I would buy him back for the next round and then leave; I’m not drinking seven dollar beers.

While standing by the bar, his co-worker approached, looking fresh out of college. She proceeded to order a Grey Goose dirty martini. The price was something ridiculous, thirteen dollars, if I remember correctly. That began an exchange that I find humorous, and my friend characterizes as a reason why he’s always reluctant to bring me around his co-workers. It went something like this:

Digglahhh: Ouch!

Presumed avid TMZ reader co-worker: What?

D: That’s a lot of money for a drink.

PATRCW: Oh, you’ll get used to it, how long have you been in the city?

D: Um, roughly since before you were born. I’ve been drinking in this city since you were passing notes that said “Do you like me? Check box, yes or no.”

Yes, I was mean. And, yes, I meant to be. Don’t give me anything about not giving her a chance; fuck people like this! People come to be big city and think getting fucked over like a tourist is part of the experience, and that I’m some uninitiated hick because I don’t bend over for some top shelf (but pedestrian) liquor at a faux-chic NYC bar. Let me assure you sweetie, there is nothing NYC-ish about getting economically exploited because you are unable to process the notion that Carrie Bradshaw and the gals were fictional characters. Furthermore, there’s something highly ironic about being cool with dropping thirteen bucks on a drink, and assuming the naivete of somebody who finds that ridiculous.

To some, everything is a status symbol, on one level or another. The Yuppie lifestyle, admixed with capitalist competitiveness, is a bright orange blinking sign flashing “Rip Me Off,” and the victims seem to relish wearing it, perhaps because they derive some sort of pathological validation of success from it. Being able to afford thirteen dollar drinks is seen an affirmation of your financial status, not of your gullibility, stupidity, or shallow nature. When I say that our culture is poisoned and that voting can’t even begin to rectify the dysfunctional programming of our society, this is the type of behavior that I am referring to. On small scales, you can see it non-stop, every single day.

One of the things that makes capitalism an endless treadmill to nowhere is the fact that everything begins to inherit status value. As people climb the economic ladder, they simply raise their standard of living at the same rate, meaning they are still reliant upon their well-paying job to support their lifestyle, and fail to gain nearly as much financial stability as they could. There has to be a reason to keep playing the game when you don’t have to anymore. Enter two hundred dollar theatre tickets, 30,000 annual tuition bills from school churning out twenty-two year old girls comfortable with thirteen dollar drinks (aspiring to be forty year old women comfortable with four hundred dollar haircuts), and the myriad other forms of commodity fetishism, and the treadmill gets them to work 65 hour weeks to achieve such “dreams.”

Luckily, nobody was particularly attached to the place, and once my friend’s girlfriend met up with us, we decided to head elsewhere. We finished the evening at a dive bar that offered five dollar, 32oz beers – much more our style. His co-worker nursed mixed drinks, but seemed to be having a fine time. At the end of the evening we stumbled into a cab, which he proceeded to expense to his employer. Employees at his job are supposed to be in at 8:30 in the morning. The next morning, he called me at about a quarter after nine, just to tell me that his coworker wasn’t in yet.

Here’s something they need to teach you in the boondocks, homegirl. You show up and work hard in the morning, no matter how hard you partied the night before.

7 Responses to “The parable of the Cosmo girl and the NYC boy”

  1. When I lived in Toronto, there was a great club I went to that had a really funky blues band. But without fail, every time we went, the waitress would overcharge like crazy for the first round. She’d deliver two beers and two drinks and tell us it was over $20. I’d say “Is that right?”, and she’d say “oh, I’m sorry, I calculated it wrong”, and drop the price to a more reasonable cost, like $12 or so. And then every round after that would be the same more reasonable cost. One time, sure, you could believe it was an accident, but after three times with different waitresses it was pretty obvious it was policy. They were just seeing what the market would bear.

  2. ClaireDePlume said

    Last weekend while “sightseeing” in Montreal, I suddenly discovered Cosmopolitans (which are truly too expensive for my usual tastes, but I was “on holiday”…). In two restaurants where I sipped on these tasty concoctions, market value varied slightly – from $10 each to $12 per serving. I guess there’s no sex in that city.

    And yes, Toronto bars and their peripheral industries such as taxis are known for their price gouging. Toronto the Good my ass.

  3. I am so glad to meet someone who’s worse with women than I am.

    Re: Toronto taxis – one thing I liked about them is they would give you as many blank receipts as you asked for, to be filled in at your leisure. The newsstands sold them for $1 (Canadian) each.

  4. ClaireDePlume said

    :) And the ink to refill that pen you used on the taxi chits was a mere $50.00/dram?

    The city of Toronto – devoid of any art to speak of (i.e. no Monet’s to be seen unless you’re looking for flowers on velvet and that glow in the dark) – is alive with the art of chicanery. The very last taxi a group of five of us took was quoted as one fee when we got in. When we reached our destination that fee magically turned into the fee per person, not the total fare.

    And though I’ve never sampled a Cosmopolitan here , just one is likely $14 – $16 (CDN $), plus tip of course.

    It’s all fun and games here. That is, until you order a drink or take a taxi.

  5. Ahhw, I paid $(US)22 plus tip, for a sad little drink in an ordinary “hip” bar in Paris this spring. Of course there were real berries inside…and then I paid 9$ no tip…for a Cuba Libre in a white plastic mug, with some dead citrus in it at another hip underground bar…

  6. Swanny said

    Maybe some people just don’t like dive bars. Maybe they prefer to pay for the ambiance afforded by the higher costs.

  7. digglahhh said

    Sure, and they surely have the right to do so, Swanny.

    And maybe some people would prefer to pay for the quality of a Prada pocketbook – that doesn’t mean that they should be oblivious to the fact that the pocketbook is very expensive. It’s her obliviousness that I find disturbing.

    BTW, the bar we were at was a piece of shit. It was outdoors, by the seaport but the view of the water was could only really seen at the peripheries because they had ridiculous tents set up. The Rainbow Room it was not.

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