The Free Booze Myth
An Effective Comeback For The Proudly Antisocial
I hate parties. Why stand in a room full of people I don’t know with nothing I can think of to say to any of them (or even a room full of people I know but see all the time anyway), when I can stay at home with loud rock ‘n’ roll on the stereo or a hockey game on the tube or a nice quiet book to read?
A common ploy used by friends in attempts to get me to attend their parties is to inform me that “there will be free booze.” For instance, a dear friend recently invited me to his wife’s baby shower this coming weekend by saying that the men would be in the basement “drinking free beer.” Aside from the fact that one of the privileges afforded the single male is that he is not required to attend bridal or baby showers, I felt it was my duty to expose Free Booze At Parties for the canard that it is.
Take the friend with the baby shower. Is it truly free to drink his beer? Well, there is no cover charge and he won’t be charging for each bottle of Summit, but what about the cost of getting to his free beer? He lives across town, so I would drive to his house. The round-trip mileage comes out to 9.4 miles. If we take the standard IRS 2003 mileage rate (based on an annual study that calculates the fixed and variable cost of operating an automobile) of $0.36 per mile, we come up with the following calculation:
9.4 miles x $0.36/mile = $3.39
So if I go to my friend’s party and drink one beer or ten beers, it will still cost me $3.39. But let’s assume I’m a responsible citizen and have three beers so that I am able to drive home safely.
Now let’s look at how much it costs to drink purchased beer at home. Let’s say I follow a general pattern and have on stock tasty Leinenkugel’s longnecks. I purchased them for $15.32 a case including tax. The cost breaks out to $0.64 per bottle. (Note: the mileage cost associated with purchasing this beer does not enter the calculation as it is part of my ordinary mileage. Mileage to a party is extraordinary and is hence treated as a cost.) If I have the same amount of three beers that I would have had at my friend’s party, the cost is as follows:
3 beers x $0.64/beer = $1.92
Hmmm – it actually costs less to stay home and drink beer I paid for myself then it is to go to my friend’s and drink “free” beer. In fact, I could stay home, drink two more beers (5 beers = $3.20 total cost), it would still cost me less, and I’d get a killer beer buzz to boot. As my eleventh-grade math teacher once said: “Put that in your calculator and smoke it.”