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Recession? What Recession?

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Everywhere I go these days, I see people doing the same stupid things.

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The single-girl birthday is a time-honored tradition in New York: The birthday girl works a little harder to look a little hotter, and celebrates with a gaggle of her good-time friends at the most inconvenient restaurant she can find.

A tradition within a tradition: The painful and painfully awkward moment when the bill arrives.

"How much is it per person?"

"What? I can't hear you. This Kanye West track is so loud it's making my ears bleed."

"I had 2 drinks and didn't even order an appetizer. How can it be $150?"

I had occasion to be at just such a fete on Friday - and the second I walked in I knew this free-for-all would end badly. When 15 people spend 4 hours partying like vintage Johnny Depp, with nary a care for how aggressive a tab they're running, it always does.

Fortunately, I wasn't there to witness it. I ate as quickly as I could, handed my girlfriend my credit card and got the hell out of Dodge (they're her friends). I just don't have the appetite for magnums of champagne with sparklers sticking out of the corks.

I mean, really. It's a recession. Act as if.

The next day, my girlfriend recounted what happened after I left.

Stage 1: Deregulation

Conveniently, when the little slip of paper inscribed with the rather offensive tally was delivered to the table -- by the waiter whose patience I had extolled before making my exit (he pooh-poohed the compliment by telling me "you guys are paying for my education") -- everybody had flown the coop.

Stage 2: The Point of Recognition

But you can only make a cigarette last so long. Eventually, you have to go back inside and face the really annoying music. I'm told one gussied-up party girl audibly lamented having ordered the tuna tartare and that second round of Jaegermeister shots.

A male diner, blazer-clad and displaying the maximum chest hair allowable by law, kept feeling for his wallet in what looked like a nervous tic. Another procrastinator took a few steps away from the table and began feverishly texting nobody in particular.

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