Going out is fun. Who doesn’t like going out for a few beers with friends? But with cerebral palsy, sometimes that can be hard, and when a few turns into a few too many it can be downright dangerous. Here are my tips for hanging out a bar or anywhere where alcohol is consumed frequently so you can enjoy yourself and others around you.
1. Know your surroundings.
When you walk into a bar, especially one you haven’t been to before, try to scout things out. Where may be the easiest place to stand or sit? Is your bartender or server coming to you? If not, maybe sit a little closer to where they are. Where’s the exit? Some bars can go casual to crammed in minutes, and it’s always easiest to know the best way in and out if this happens. Is there a back door exit that may be easier to get out than the front, and where does that lead to? If it’s an alley, you probably need to go out the front, but if it’s a street it may be easier to walk around outside than push through the center of a crowded bar.
2. Get your bartender or server’s names.
It’s mostly common courtesy, but it doesn’t hurt when asking for a favor to address someone by their name. I know sometimes after having a few and sitting for a while I stiffen up. If you have friends with you, it’s easy to ask for some help up, but if not, generally people are pretty happy to help. If they’re not, that’s not the place for you.
3. Know your limits.
This can go for anyone, but those of us with CP know one too many can throw us off physically and mentally. If you’re in a bar you have never been to before, and especially if you’re by yourself, it’s good to have a mental count of beers or drinks you’ve had. Otherwise you may just end up on the floor.
4. It’s OK sometimes to let strangers who never asked know you have CP.
Generally speaking, people are in a bar to drink and sometimes to drink a lot. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve had people think I was drunk before I even stepped up to the bar. I don’t why this is a drunk thing, but in my experience it definitely is. Sometimes it’s best to just get the confusion out of the way to the people around you or your bartender. This is 100 percent your discretion, but it can make things easier for people and possibly your bartender. Remember most people are just curious and too scared to ask, but if you get it out of the way sometimes it’s just easier to have a good time.
5. Falling in a bar is tough, but hey, we got this.
We all have our moments where we just fall down. In a bar, this can be downright embarrassing as well as a gateway for others to judge. Don’t worry; it’s OK. If you can get up on your own, try your best; if you can’t, communicate calmly with the people helping you. Don’t be afraid to tell the drunk guy helping you up to get someone sober so both of you don’t end up on the floor. If you’re drunk, know it and cut yourself off. Falling drunk with a disability is still falling drunk, and if you’re not careful you can harm yourself and others. If you’re not, you may have to explain yourself a little. I know this is tough, but it’s for everyone’s benefit including your own, so don’t be afraid.
6. You’re gonna get looks.
We often get those looks. The what’s wrong with that person? look. They are hurtful sometimes, but it’s just because people don’t understand. If you’re of legal drinking age, you’ve probably figured this out. You may get these looks more at bars because people think you’re drunk. This is when tip number 4 can come in handy. If you don’t want explain yourself, just press on.
7. General bar safety goes double for those with a disability.
Don’t take drinks from someone you don’t know. Who knows what’s in that thing. Don’t be afraid to refuse a drink even if handed to you by the bartender. If you’ve reached your limit and someone buys you a drink, don’t be afraid to say no thank you. Again, a sloppy drunk with a disability is still a sloppy drunk — don’t be that guy or gal. Be careful of new people. Don’t be afraid of making friends, but have your wits about you when conversing with strangers.
8. Have fun.
At the end of the day I hope you’re out to have fun. Try not to let your CP and everything that comes along with it stop you from having a good time. We all have something we have to deal with; your CP is just part of your something. Put it aside, kick back and enjoy yourself.
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Thinkstock photo by AiJohn784.