There are many differences between going for a drink in Ireland and going for a drink in Abu Dhabi.
In Ireland you could sit in a pub until you turned to salt before someone would come to your table to take a drinks order. The bar person has no sooner placed your bottle of beer on the counter that he’s staring into your purse as you try to fish out the right change, as he’s eager to receive the Eu. 4.65 immediately in case you do a runner. A complimentary bowl of nuts would be unheard of as they tried this before about 8 years ago and the nuts were scoffed with no visible spike in beer sales. Thereafter, nuts were strictly for sale and cash on delivery. Ironically, as absorption is the mainstay of an Irish Pub, it seems that the Irish Publican is unwilling to absorb or incur any additional costs that may make enjoying a drink more pleasurable, thus maybe the cause of diminishing patronage.
Abu Dhabi is a different matter, swanning into any hotel bar you are shown to your seat by a friendly host , where you order your pint of lager from a menu and almost certainly receive a bowl of complimentary nuts, or salted nuts if you don’t like complimentary.
Able to count on one hand, the number of times I’ve gone for a drink in Abu Dhabi you can imagine my excitement when I was invited along to a Ladies Night. To clarify, a ladies night is where all ladies receive free drinks. Yes, you read correctly, free. You pay nothing, nada, zilch, not a penny, absolutely scot free. Why don’t Irish publicans think of this, a sure fire way to see your pub packed to the rafters!. There was one condition, the ladies must wear the colour pink and the free drink was pink champagne. Kicking off my Birkenstocks faster than you can say, “mines a double” and despite it being many years since I partook of a night on the tiles with the girls I found that I was easily able to cast my guise as mommy dearest aside, slap on the makeup and heels and take to the hotspot in Abu Dhabi for “ladies night”.
Determined to meet the criteria and secure my entitlement for free liquor, I invested heavily in bright pink jeans, slightly different shade but still bright pink top and matching shoes. Some might say that this was negating the economic benefits of the freebie, but I had planned on consuming enough that would still leave me in the black when balancing free bubbly against investment clothing, a logic that perhaps has landed me in the situation of emigration in the first place.
The eagerest, pinkest and thirstiest gal in the club, I gasped open-mouthed at the rows and rows of pink bubbly lined up on the bar , sitting pretty, there for the taking. I would just check my phone once to make sure that baby went down to bed ok and then I would tackle the rows of bubbly with gusto. One glass of sweet, strong, free drink later, I remembered to return a call about a playdate the next morning, I would postpone, I would be in no mood for Playdoh after this night out. Second glass went down a little slower albeit I was on the third bowl of olives and the mirage of bubbly that I had imagined all week began to look less attractive in real life.
Facing into the third glass of too-sweet but free bubbly, I couldn’t help notice the group of young women who danced energetically whilst swilling back copious quantities of the free booze whilst my group chatted lethargically about schools, weight and childbirth, hardly the topics of party girls.
Unable to finish the third glass, it was the general consensus at the table that we would salvage what was left of our taste buds, open our purses and order a bottle of the Pinot Grigio and a sharing platter of Bruschetta, as it’s no wise to drink on an empty stomach. Meanwhile, a decade younger and a world apart, the party girl group continued to dance, sing and guzzle like there was no tomorrow.
Forget, ”youth is wasted on the young”, it seems that “Ladies nights are wasted on middle aged!”