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All I had was a five dollar bill, and I sure as hell wasn’t giving it to this bow-tied asshole. I searched my pockets over and over again, hoping there was a single I had forgotten about. No luck.
The bartender was now watching me intently. If I had simply walked away without tipping for my complimentary beer, he would have been too busy to notice, but I lingered too long. Now my awkward pocket searching was the focus of the entire room. Now I was the asshole. All eyes were trained on me, waiting to see what this unreasonably nervous man would do.
At least that’s how it seemed in my head. It probably didn’t help that I was a little stoned. I wasn’t faded enough to look stoned, but I had to focus more than usual to accomplish things that were normally handled subconsciously. I had to focus on holding my beer so I didn’t drop it. I also had to focus on keeping my eyes fully open, instead of half closed like a stoner. I had to focus on holding my arms at my side in a normal fashion, because was I doing that? How do people normally let their arms hang? Am I doing it right? Sweet Christ, someone tell me!
Maybe I was more than a little stoned.
Most importantly, I had to focus on finding something in my pocket that a non-stoned person would view as a valid tip. I had some cool stickers in my back pocket that came with my new shoes. Those look pretty sweet. Stop it, Paul! That’s not a tip! That’s not how normals tip! Keep searching. I could gift him the price list for the art show? Goddamn it man, that’s not currency! Those are free for anyone to take. There is literally a pile of them sitting right next to the tip jar at this makeshift bar. I had some coins, but how many? I couldn’t take them out and count them in front of everyone. Just throw the change in the jar and run! You’ve been standing at this tip jar forever! People are looking! Everyone is staring at you! Just throw it in!
I tried to drop the change carefully so it would land in the middle of the jar, in the relatively soft pile of one dollar bills, but what you attempt to do while high versus what you actually accomplish are two different things. The coins clanged against the side of the glass jar so loudly that it seemed to echo throughout the room. I’m not sure if people were actually staring at me before, but they definitely were now. I had just loudly tipped the bartender 37 cents, and the whole room heard it.
The bartender gave me a brutally sarcastic “Thaaank you, sir” and rolled his eyes so far back in his head that I was tempted to call an ambulance. I gripped my beer tightly and retreated to the main gallery area, where I once again had to focus intently. Don’t drop the bottle. Keep the bottle upright so you don’t spill on the floor. Don’t leer at pretty ladies. Keep your eyes fully open so no one knows you’re stoned. Don’t bump the artwork with your beer bottle FOR GOD’S SAKE DON’T BUMP THE ARTWORK WITH YOUR BEER BOTTLE. They will make you buy it, you fool!
I believe I came within one inch of owing the gallery $8,700. That’s how close I got to bumping a painting off the wall with my beer. My life would have been ruined. The most cash I’ve ever seen in person is $500, and I was so nervous carrying it to the bank that I nearly sprinted the whole way there. Someday I should take out $100 in ones and roll around in them on my bed. See what it feels like. See if being rich is worth it. I wonder how long it would take to save up for that painting? If I save $200 per month, it would take me roughly forty-three and a half months to . . . oh man, I’m drifting off again. Did I do anything stupid? Gah! Tilt the bottle upright! You almost spilled! Focus, damn you! You’re stoned in a crowded art gallery! Focus!
My heightened sense of danger was reaching a critical point. It was time to go. I reached the front door of the gallery, and the security person pointed to my beer and then to the wastebasket by the door. I would not be allowed to exit with it. Heineken isn’t the best beer, but it’s also not the sort of beer you throw out. My most basic primal urges took over, and I attempted to finish it. In my mind, walking around as I drank seemed more casual and discreet. Since I was pretty much chugging, it came across as neither. There was no question this time. High or not, I looked utterly ridiculous. I managed to chug half of it before doing the only thing I could at this point: Tossing it in the trash and exiting, promising myself that I wouldn’t look back to see the horrible looks on everyone’s faces. I am, and will always remain, a classy son of a bitch.