It’s one of those busy college nights out. Everyone is going, apparently. There’s that subtle electricity around campus; the buzz felt from excitement for what’s promising to be an eventful night. Some girls have even got a start on their make-up to ensure maximum prinking time, for fear that the actual drinking part of “pre-drinks” would be taken up by a rush to get ready. Many of the lectures after about 4pm are left looking a little barer than usual, and some students haven’t even left the library before sneaking a swig and getting a start on their naggin. There are flocks of clicks arriving at every gaff on College Road and beyond; the speakers are switched on and connected to the phone of the person claiming to have the best bangers for prinks, the glasses are passed around and the straws are proudly announced by whomever was tactical enough to think of buying them while picking up their mixer. There’s talk of a game of Kings, but everyone knows it will be a futile attempt; everyone is too concerned about drinking their own naggin and few cans as quickly as they can without gawking, so a game of King’s would only hold things up, as well as make a mess. Everyone is buzzed enough as it is anyway; one housemate has already started climbing chairs and daring to dance on the table that has already had to be replaced twice due to previous table-dancing incidents that not only resulted in the death of the table, but also in a broken arm and six stitches. Agh yes, Freshers 2017 was a good one.
Things move from prinks to the “quick one before the club”; The Wash is absolutely heaving, the lines for Havanas and Church wrap round the buildings by 9:30pm, and shortly after 10pm the bouncers are telling the jam-packed excuse for a queue of people to go home. The place is full. Hardly full by 10pm, everyone thinks, but sure of course it is. Everyone was warned it would be a busy night, and those that left prinks that little bit too late are left stranded outside on the streets of Cork city, wandering aimlessly around, attempting to get in other places or just accepting their fate, grabbing some food and heading back to the College Road house of that fella who was ranting and raving in the line about the sick after-party he was throwing. Chaos ensues on the streets, and is worsened again several hours on into the night as people begin to fall drunkenly and disorientated out of the clubs and make a beeline for their favourite after-club-fast-food joint in town for some scran. The staff of McDonalds, Four Star, Speedos and the like prepare for the onslaught of drunken messes; it’s a wonder to the world how they manage to understand the orders and don’t absolutely lose the will to live with the messing and the pushing, the fumbling around in purses for some spare change and the fighting over who was next in the queue (what queue anyways? The place is a mess. No one can possibly tell whose turn it is next). No doubt many people have gone ahead and ordered two double cheeseburgers, forgetting that they had spent their last ten euro note on three jager bombs for a tenner. “Agh lads would ya help a fella out here, d’you’ve a euro even?” There’s always one.
Next is the race for a taxi. Taxis, taxis everywhere, but not one having not been taken by that competitive asshole who got to the passenger door before you did. Getting a taxi isn’t even the biggest challenge; it’s rounding up all the friends you are supposed to be getting a taxi home with that proves most frustratingly impossible. One friend is refusing to leave McDonald’s until she gets her McFlurry, remaining in complete denial about the fact that the ice cream machine is broken; another sits smugly in the back corner with some lass up on his lap thinking he has a chance of going home with her “nah, you go on, I’ll stay here;” clearly drink makes him delusional. That one friend who had been warned to keep away from a particular someone has disappeared with that one particular someone they were supposed to, and vowed to, keep away from; “We’re just going for food I swear” …food my ass. By the time everyone is rounded up and manages to secure a taxi home, it’s almost 4am, and there are only a few hours to sleep before the next day’s lectures begin.
You, however, remain safe, sound and oh so cozy, wrapped up in blankets at home in front of the fire, with your hot water bottle snuggled into your tummy and your dog laying across your legs. Your favourite Netflix series is on, the new episodes you’ve been dying to see, and your Galaxy bar is softened by your perfectly coloured cuppa, and melts so deliciously in your mouth. You smile; you are at peace. You did look at the SnapChat stories, but it wasn’t long before you closed down the app, locked your phone, switched it on to do not disturb and placed it face-down on the coffee table. Before you would’ve felt the tang of FOMO, the twinge of fear of missing out leading to feelings of awful regret that fools you into thinking you should have gone out – but no, not this time; now you know better than to regret your decision to stay in. This time there’s not even a little fear of missing out, nor a hint of regret; there’s only contented bliss and the comfort in knowing that you don’t have to go on every major night out; you can pick and choose your nights. As well as this, you now know, after experiencing your fair share of disastrous nights out, that you really won’t be missing anything at all. It really is the same old, and sometimes you’re just as well off to spend time with yourself in the comfort of your own bed, with your Netflix, your favourite munch, and that unbeatable guarantee of a decent night’s sleep followed by a fresh head in the morning.
You also know that there isn’t only one kind of night out: get fucked at prinks, just about manage to get in, spend more money than you thought you even had (God help you if you made the mistake of bringing out your debit card), freeze your tits off cause you were too cool to bring a jacket and then spend what feels like a week trying to flag down a taxi with friends that will have to pay for your share of the taxi ‘cause once again your last few euros went on a shot with your best mate ever (you’ve spoken to this person probably 3 times in your entire life) and finally end up spending an actual week recovering both physically and mentally. This is not the only definition of “out” you will find in a more mature, revised edition of an urban dictionary. Going out can be a pitcher of beers and a pizza shared between just the few of ye who felt like doing something but were allergic to the thought of spending the night in a club. Going out can be a few drinks (literally just the one or two like, it really is possible) or even a cheeky bite to eat after your last late evening lecture of the week, still getting home before 10 o’clock at night and getting a great sleep. Going out can be a cute dinner date with your partner, a break from the usual movie night or not-so-exciting hanging out at home, with a nice meal, perhaps a cocktail or glass of wine if you feel so inclined.
Before turning up your strapped-for-cash student nose, let me remind you, when you think about it, the amount you spend on that typical busy college night out could easily get you a nice meal and few sophisticated drinks; between your gatt for prinks, the taxi fare to the club, the entrance to the club, the often unknown amount of drinks you get in the club, the scran afterwards and then, of course, the taxi fare back home you’ve easily spent on average between about 50 to 70 euros right there. Ladies have to factor in the fake tan and eyelashes too. It all adds up. Hell, you could pay for a romantic dinner for two, or go for a decent meal and cocktails with the girls, or treat yourself to some nice new clothes for the nights you decide you could do with a boogie, because of course a good sesh on the town is needed every once in a while, but when the every once in a while grows into being every week, if not twice a week, you’ve got to give yourself, your body, and your purse a break.
This R&G Week, I encourage you to treat yourself to a night in; be that alone with your Netflix and munch, with the girls for a night of tea and chats, with the lads for a night of Fifa and take out, or with your friend or partner for a cute dinner date or trip to the cinema. It is Valentine’s Day this week after all.