You know when you are getting old when ...
I went out for a few drinks the other night. This was after I had already had a few drinks at home celebrating my wife's birthday. I think the police call this "preloading".
I hadn't been out for a while, probably a month or two, some friends were in town . . . I felt some modest "preloading" was acceptable.
I was in the provinces, New Plymouth, so, to be honest, options were limited. It certainly wasn't Wellington and its endless ways and locations to drink until you are no smarter than a four- year-old. Still, New Plymouth isn't without its charms.
The first bar was full of guys I play football with. They are, to a man, at least a decade younger than me and being in their mid-20s they dress like they are lost in the 80s. Think Duran Duran, George Michael before he came out of the closet or Rob Lowe from the movie St Elmo's Fire. They are all chest up top, suffocating denims down low and hair heading to every degree of the compass. I don't know how they breathe below the waist in those jeans, let alone put that area in charge of the thinking.
Men in their 20s are like roosters, strutting and scratching around, pecking at their drink, always keeping an eye out for Miss Right Now who in a week or two may actually turn into Miss Right.
They would certainly have noticed Kate, the rest of the bar did. When it came to fashion, Kate subscribed to the less-is-more convention. She was on her hen's night and about to marry a farmer who was going to love and care for her deep in rural Taranaki. She was partying like she might never see civilisation again.
She was particularly keen to impress upon my group how proud she was of a certain two parts of her anatomy. It's the same two parts most men keep a pretty close eye on naturally, so she needn't have bought it to our attention.
The second bar was dark and dingy. No-one seemed to have had a haircut or a shave this year. They played the music with no singing that you have to be really drunk to enjoy. So, obviously the dance floor was packed. I felt very old at this bar; I wanted to request a song I heard on the radio in my car. I would have been laughed at or assaulted. I wasn't keen on either.
The third bar was an Irish one and even though I'm of Welsh descent, it seemed just right. They had music coming from people playing instruments rather than a guy with a laptop, a pretend record player and a set of expensive headphones hanging off one ear.
I had a couple more drinks, played some air guitar to a Bon Jovi song that was No 1 20-odd years ago, then my sister-in- law kindly drove me home.
I guess what I'm starting to realise is I am 35 years old. A mathematician would say I'm probably somewhere near middle-aged. Now, while I wasn't the youngest at the pub, and hopefully not the oldest either, by Sunday lunchtime I was wondering why I had gone out in the first place.
I won't admit it just yet, but if I'm not there already, I think I maybe just about to hit the dinner-party stage of my life. And you know what; I think that could be OK. Stay tuned.
Hadyn Jones is a journalist and former party animal. He writes a fortnightly column.
The Dominion Post