According to The Onion, "the nation's boyfriends" are dreading summer's coming onslaught of free events in the park. Us too! Here's why:
Yesterday, Sadie tweeted, "Basically every free NYC summer event goes under the blanket heading, 'a supposedly fun thing I'll never do again'" (if you haven't read the David Foster Wallace essay to which she alludes, and you want to laugh until your spleen falls out, do so). I was about to respond that the free show I went to in my neighborhood last week was awesome ... until I remembered all the ways it wasn't.
Free events are crowded.
This is less of a problem in small towns — I remember having quite a leisurely and unobstructed stroll through an art fair in Iowa City (I think it helped that it was raining). But in cities, free = everyone is there. At the show last week, that meant every single twentysomething within ten subway stops and two subcultures of me, all packed into a very small space with no air conditioning. My view hopelessly obstructed, I resorted to the saddest concert-going tactic ever — watching the show on the upheld screens of other people's iPhones. Relatedly ...
They run out of stuff.
Demand invariably exceeds supply at free events, meaning that the awesome free funnel cake or ice cream or t-shirts or copies of a new CD are gone by the time you get there. Or you have to stand in a line longer than your patience, that began before you got up. The only exception is when the free thing is so bizarre that no one else wants it, such as pickle-and-peanut-butter finger sandwiches (these were actually good).
You feel like you should go to them anyway.
Sadie describes this as a compulsion to "take advantage" of free things on offer. I think of it more as a lowering of the barriers to entry to the point where I just fall right over them. A free show in my neighborhood? How could I not attend? A free art happening, at which I will be forced to dance on camera while wearing a pigeon costume that completely obscures my vision? Well, why not!? (I think I actually paid a suggested donation for that last one, another problem with free events.)
Of course, free events have one big thing going for them: they're free, meaning you can spend your money on other summer expenses, like air conditioning or sunscreen. But when you factor in those suggested donations, it's probably still cheaper to follow our patented summer plan: spend the entire thing indoors, watching Hulu and sucking on ice cubes made of cranberry juice. Nation's boyfriends, you can thank us later.