Graduation is a depressing time. I’m not going to lie to y’all and say it’s “exciting” and a “celebration” or any of that bullshit everyone shoves down your throat. I mean, you’re getting ripped from your home of four years, thrown into the real world, and you’re expected to not drink on weekdays. It’s depressing.
Another thing that sucks is the whole saying goodbye thing. Saying goodbye is never easy, it can be really awkward, and you’re left wondering why goodbyes even exist. One of the hardest goodbyes you’ll experience is saying goodbye to your favorite college bartender.
Bartenders in college towns are truly a breed of their own. They deal with throngs of people, having money thrown at them, screaming, yelling, and dancing. They hear the worst pick up lines day in and day out, yet they still remember your order the second you come up to the bar. Being a senior, you’ve known your bartender for almost four years now and it’s the longest relationship you’ve had in college. Granted, your bartender might not have known your real name until your junior year, and he or she probably isn’t sure if you’re from California or New Jersey, but those are just minor details.
We love our bartenders, and why shouldn’t we? They’ve been there through thick and thin, celebrations and depressions, sober and drunk. They bitch with us about our evil standards chair, console us over the latest boy to break our hearts, and congratulate us when we ace a big test. They laugh at our antics and shake their heads at our drunken stupor. They give us free advice with every drink they serve. They see us at our worst and still love us. We love them for serving us drinks and making sure we have a good time, and they love us because we keep them in business.
Breaking up with your bartender is harder than breaking up with any boyfriend. You have so much history together, your bartender knows exactly what you like and how you like it, and you have no good reason for this relationship to end–except for, of course, the whole moving out of your college town reason. When you look back on the time you spent with your bartender, at least the times you ACTUALLY remember, it’s hard to recall a negative experience. I have more positive experiences with my bartenders than any of my exes.
But, with graduation approaching alarmingly fast, now is not the time to look back at the memories you’ve had for the past three and a half years. Enjoy these moments and live in the now. Go out to happy hour and talk to your bartender. Order your bartender a shot, maybe get to know him or her a little bit better, and, above all, don’t forget to show your appreciation. Thank your bartender and genuinely mean it. You only have so much longer with him or her, so truly live it up. Lift up your beer, vodka, shot, or whatever you’re drinking and toast the bartenders who make college, well, college.
And to Will, Kinsey, and Erica: thanks for everything the past four years. You made my college experience the most kick-ass time of my life, and I’m going to miss all three of you more than you’ll know. But don’t worry, I’ll be back for homecoming. You might want to start preparing now.