Goodbye, Eric Barry, Sorry You Couldn’t Get Laid

What It’s Like to Spend An Evening in a Bar Having Friends

sarah james
Sep 10, 2017 · 5 min read

Eric Barry’s terrible good-bye Chicago letter is currently making the rounds among my Chicago-residing Facebook friends. I must admit, when I first saw that someone had written a terrible farewell to Chicago, I assumed they were saying something uninformed about violence or gangs — but I’m just spoiled from our current administration, I guess! The reality is… not worse? But certainly… different?

I took this picture on my last trip to Chicago. As you can tell, this city is a nightmarish hellscape. #nofilter

Lots of people have had great responses: I guess Chicago has a lot of comedians or something. Katie Rife’s for the AV Club is particularly great. But because I love Chicago and bars and bars in Chicago, I wanted to dive into one particular passage — where Eric Barry moves to Chicago and goes to a bar to try and get laid I mean try and make friends.

He begins:

I’ve been in Chicago two weeks, and have made a habit of going out to bars in the hopes of meeting other bar-goers, something that was a cornerstone of socializing in San Francisco.

Wait. Hold on. You mean to tell me that in San Francisco, people go to bars, and SOCIALIZE? Oh man. I’d heard that San Francisco was better than every other place in the world, but if they are on this level of innovation, can any city ever compare?

I ask the bartender for a Lagunitas. I’m impressed that the quirky, indie-leaning Bay Area beer has made it this far across the country.

It actually is pretty impressive that a lil bottle o’ beer grew legs and walked across the Rockies all the way to… oh wait they drove it up in a truck? nvm

Seven dollars. They were four back home, but maybe this was a fluke.

He has a point here. If there’s one thing San Francisco is known for, it’s being reasonably priced.

Maybe all the promise of exceptionally cheap Chicago living would prove itself true in another bar.

Dude… it’s seven bucks.

A table of four women sit to my right. Beer in hand, I approach them.

Really? There were no men around, in this bar you went to to make friends? You couldn’t grab a stool and say to the bartender you’re new in town? Spoiler alert: when four women go to a bar together, they go to TALK TO ONE ANOTHER.

But wait, socializing in a bar? I thought that was just for San Francisco!

“Hi, so sorry if I’m interrupting.”

IF YOU WERE SORRY TO INTERRUPT YOU WOULDN’T HAVE INTERRUPTED

“I just moved here from San Franci — ” As the woman nearest me turns her back, she looks up and sees me, then throws up the “peace sign” in my face and turns away, as if to say “talk to the hand.”

Barry continues: “I thought she was maybe being a little rude, but I took the hint they wanted to be left alone and approached someone else” LOL JK OF COURSE HE DOESN’T

Her friend seated across from her steps in. “You moved from San Francisco? In the dead of winter? WHY?” It would become obvious in the coming months that moving from San Francisco to Chicago was a huge point of intrigue.

It’s not. She was making small talk. You said you just moved, and she asked why you moved. Literally everyone in the world has a college roommate who “lived in the Bay Area for a bit, then moved.” It is not interesting.

We continue chatting about work and other mundanities that can be fit into a minute of conversation, but her friend to the right has become visibly agitated. She leans over to my new best friend.

YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND? Someone asked why you moved here and you’re ready to throw out every friendship you’ve ever had in your lifetime? BUT WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE PEOPLE YOU MET IN SAN FRANCISCO’S EXTREMELY UNIQUE BAR TALKING CULTURE

“Why are you still talking to him?” she asks, clearly within my earshot. “I’m being friendly,” she responds.

Notice how she doesn’t respond “Because I want to”

Just then her friend turns to me. “Just so you know: we’re all TAKEN.” What did that even mean?

It meant that all of the four women have a significant other and are not looking to change that status.

We had hardly been talking for 60 seconds, and suddenly our relationship status had become central to my attempt to meet people.

Except you weren’t meeting “people,” you were meeting “a table of four women.”

It felt like in that instant I was being told that solidified gender dynamics were alive and well in Chicago,

Rest assured, gender dynamics are alive and well everywhere!

and I wondered if Steve Harvey and Men Are From Mars were still things here.

There’s an AU version of this article where he whines that “I talked to these women for a whole hour, and it wasn’t until I offered to buy the hottest one dinner that I found out they all had boyfriends the whole time! I guess women in Chicago have been told by Steve Harvey they shouldn’t be direct?”

I could’ve walked away.

I bet you didn’t!

I would indeed later learn that meeting people in bars was not done the same way it was back home.

“Back in the Bay Area, a man can approach a table full of women and they will instantly propose a fuck-fest in the $4 Lagunitas pit”

But I like using my words. “Just so you know, I don’t want to fuck ANY OF YOU,” I snapped back.

I bet you do!

She looked aghast. This was not the crestfallen and deferent response she anticipated.

OR… she looked aghast because a strange man she had told several times to get lost just shouted “fuck” at her in a bar? Nah, Eric’s probably right.

“What??!! Are you saying that you don’t think me and my friends are attractive?”

  1. There is a zero percent chance she said this
  2. If she did, it was to call you on your obvious lie — because you obviously wanted to fuck these women, and they knew it.
  3. But she didn’t say it, because this is fanfiction.

Suddenly her words and assumptions were reflected back at her, and it was no longer acceptable.

Just so we’re clear on Eric Barry’s grading rubric here:

Not Acceptable: Assuming a man wants to fuck you when he doesn’t (but he actually does)

Acceptable: Shouting “I DON’T WANT TO FUCK YOU” in a bar, to a stranger

I downed my beer and left my glass on their table.

That’ll show em!

Truth is, I would’ve fucked all of them.

We know.

But that wasn’t the point.

It is 100% exactly the point.

Sarah James lived in Chicago for three years and never paid $7 for a Lagunitas. She tweets at cryingbaseball.

The Haven

A Place to Be Funny Without Being a Jerk

sarah james

Written by

sarah is an editor at slackjaw. her writing has appeared in reductress, splitsider, the toast, and more. thesarahjames.com

The Haven

The Haven

A Place to Be Funny Without Being a Jerk

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade