It’s funny how social media has made us closer and yet farther away than ever from our friends and family. Why bother calling and possibly disturbing someone when you can send a text or a tweet? We no longer have to ask, “So, how have you been?” because it’s all spelled out on our friend’s Facebook wall.
I have several friends who live in Columbus, but due to the logistics of work schedules, kids (mine), and being in different parts of the city, we rarely have the chance to get together. Yes, we should probably make more time for it, but we’ve all been guilty of letting other things get in the way.
I was recently invited to learn more about Applebee’s Life is Better Shared campaign. Their message is simple: we all spend a lot of time online, and probably have too much Facebook and not enough face-time with the people we love. It’s all about balance — it’s great to be so connected online, but it’s important to have some offline fun with friends, too. Applebee’s even has their own tumblr with some funny videos to help promote their Girls’ Night Out message. (They have a Girls’ Night Out Goddess – I can’t quite decide what I think of her. You’ll have to watch and decide for yourself.)
I’m no stranger to Applebee’s. It’s a common spot for the occasional family night out. We love their Kids Eat Free Tuesdays, and I really appreciate that the kids’ menu is standard enough to convince my picky eater to eat. (And even though it isn’t an option, they always let her choose a salad as her side.) But I’ve never really been to Applebee’s without the kids, despite seeing their promotions for Happy Hour and Girls’ Night Out.
So a few weeks ago, I decided it was time for a Girls’ Night Out. It also just so happened to be my birthday. I emailed two friends (who were my maid of honor and matron of honor in my wedding) and my sister-in-law and suggested we all have dinner out at Applebee’s. I haven’t had the chance to spend quality time with any of these three ladies in quite awhile.
My girl-power crew got there just at the end of Happy Hour, and the bar was surprisingly full. The vibe was great; the bar area had a mix of men and women of all ages, smiling, socializing and clearly enjoying their night out. It didn’t take long to decide where to start with the menu:
Applebees has great drinks, and I love that I can get a giant sized drink for less than the cost of a tiny drink in a nightclub. Three of us had two drinks before the night was through.
As we munched on appetizers of spinach & artichoke dip and wonton tacos chicken (OMG, I wanted to lick the plate these came on – so good!), the conversation came back quickly. Beyond the Facebook wall updates, we shared more intimate stories of our lives recently, discussing triumphs and frustrations, new places around town we had discovered and the lives of long-time friends.
When our meals arrived, the conversation stopped just long enough to appreciate the food in front of us, and then we began the delicate trade off of eating and talking. I was so glad my kids weren’t there – it took well over 45 minutes to finish our meals because of the non-stop conversation in-between bites. I had the sizzling Asian shrimp & broccoli – a favorite of mine. Lots of crisp veggies, plenty of shrimp, and it really does come out sizzling hot!
As the sun set and the bar area became dark, we continued to laugh and commiserate, never short on topics to talk about, one blending into the next with no awkward silences. It felt awesome to spend time with friends in person, sharing a conversation over a meal.
And then, of course, since the waiter heard it was my birthday, the staff brought out a sundae and sang happy birthday to me. (I may have turned a lovely shade of crimson at that point.) Shortly after, I found out that my second drink was picked up by a gentleman at another table since it was my birthday. First time a stranger has ever bought me a drink! Sadly, he left before I had the chance to say thank you.
We finally left about two and a half hours after we arrived and only because everyone had to work the next day and didn’t want to stay out too late. Had time not been an issue, we probably could have entertained ourselves until closing.
I love that social media keeps me so close to my friends, day and night, but there’s something to be said for getting together in person to talk. Without the barrier of technology limitations between us, interactions feel more natural and relaxed. Our night at Applebee’s was a good reminder to unplug every now and then and make the time to share some of our time and our lives with friends face-to-face.
Now WIN some time out for yourself!
When’s the last time you had a Girls’ Night Out? A week ago? A month? A year? Applebee’s and I want to know, and BlogHer and Applebee’s are giving you a chance at a $150 Applebee’s gift card just by leaving your answer to that question in a comment below!