What We Buy When We’re Drinking

And regret when we’re sober.

Photo credit: Thales, CC BY 2.0.

One night, about five years ago, I came home late from a closing shift at the bookstore to find my roommate asleep on the couch. She had texted me earlier to excitedly announce that she had won show lottery tickets to the opening night of Newsies on Broadway; I was eager to hear how the show had gone, but she clearly was worn out by the day.

The television was on and, not being ready to go to bed just yet, I sat down in a chair alongside the couch and tried to unwind from a long work day. As I did, my eyes slowly traveled around the coffee table, and I started noticing items that hadn’t been there this morning. First, I saw a Newsies-branded newspaper, featuring images of the production. Then I noticed a Newsies-branded cup. Then another, different cup. Then a Newsies mug. Then a Newsies tote bag. Then a Newsies shirt. Then I saw her Playbill with a bunch of signatures on it.

There’s a story there, I thought to myself.

When my roommate woke up, she told me that she had gotten out of work early that day and went drinking with her coworkers. She ended up at the show already tipsy but also continued to drink during intermission (where she acquired one of her souvenir cups) and then basically raided the merchandise stand.

Later, sober, she waved around the fake Newsies newspaper going, “What even is this? Why did I buy this?”

I’ve heard similar stories from friends, describing purchases that would never have happened if alcohol weren’t involved. Some friends prefer buying presents for themselves online. Others become very generous or spendy while they’re out.

I haven’t ever gone on a spending spree when I’ve been drinking, but I do tend to spend my money more freely, especially on food and transportation. When my friends and I were particularly favoring a dive bar around the Flatiron, I would always end up walking a block away for chicken wings at a greasy place that was never very good but always open late. I would also love get-togethers on St. Marks because it usually meant I could order my favorite shawarma at two-in-the-morning. When I was single, I used to spend a terrible amount of money on cabs, though it was just as much a safety precaution as it was a splurge — I found myself in a few sketchy situations where I decided it was better to be safe than sorry.

Thinking about how we spend money when we’ve been drinking, I asked some of my friends to submit their thoughts and stories. All names have been removed to protect the guilty.

“One time I was waiting around for people to leave work, and we went for some drinks with one of the girls there. We had quite a few drinks with her because another coworker joined us. Then she left and the other coworker went to see a bartender somewhere, so I took my tiny check and set off into the night while I waited. I bought a whole new outfit WITH shoes. I would’ve never worn that outfit, but I guess I had some liquid courage. Of course after that I went to meet up with the group with my cute new outfit, and actually got compliments. Those became my favorite shorts that summer. *Sigh* to the days I fit in regular F21 clothes.”

“I splurge on skin care. I have woken up to $55–65 orders.”

“Probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever bought while drunk was a sewing machine in college. I never even used it.”

“I don’t remember anything specific but when I’m drunk I like to buy things with slow shipping times so that I am more likely to be surprised when it arrives. Since it increases my chances of forgetting.”

“Once when I was drunk I went on Amazon and bought new toys for my cats because I was thinking about how much I love them and how they are good cats and deserve good toys to make them happy.”

“Four friends and I bought 24 sunny side up eggs, 12 full size sausages, two massive plates of hash browns, 16 slices of toast and oversized wine glasses of mimosas at 4 a.m. after a long night in Vegas. Then we played credit card roulette for the bill.”

“I’ve drunkenly ordered two taco twelve-packs for myself. Also online shopping for Kate Spade. Also drunkenly bought a half-gallon of milk and Oreos and drank the whole half-gallon out of the jug.”

“Fortunately/sadly I have a whole list of regrettable drunk purchases from the Renassiance Festival:
—Replica of Anduril (Aragorn’s bigass sword from Lord of the Rings)
—Some weird, gryphon puppet thing? Thankfully my cats have destroyed because it was actually kinda creepy
—Some weird leather purse thing that has a dead fox’s face skin on it (????)
—A tarot card reading where I was told my life was in limbo (already knew that but thanks)
—At least several hundreds of dollars on fancy corsets which I have worn (you guessed it!) zero times because who the fuck wears corsets anymore?”

What have you spent money on when you were drunk/drinking? Did you regret your purchases after you sobered up?

Kimberly Lew is the proud writer of plays, articles, and the monthly rent check when it’s due. www.kimberlylew.com

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