You’re sitting in a bar and you’ve already made napkin roses for all the ladies. Practical jokes on Bob are getting old and the debate about whether the girl in the red dress is packing heat or just butch is going to go on until someone dares to ask her on a date. You already impressed everyone by knowing what states are on a five dollar bill* and they’ve taken the car off the back of the new ten dollar bills. What are you going to do? There’s always trivia questions but half the people in the bar don’t even know who Joe Stalin is so they’re not going to be impressed that you know he was studying to be a priest before discovering that he got more girls as a Marxist.
This is the danger zone. It’s always been rumored that Scientology was the result of a bar bet between L. Ron Hubbard and Robert A. Heinlein. I think Heinlein would have done a better job but Tom Cruise seems to buy into the idea that that Xenu was the ruler of a Galactic Confederacy 75 million years ago, which consisted of 26 stars and 76 planets including Earth, which was then known as “Teegeeack.” I don’t think we’re up to creating goofy religions today and the beer freezing before your eyes trick requires that it be in the freezer for at least two hours so let’s move on to something simpler.
My favorite bar bet involves a bottle with a dimple in the bottom. You claim you can drink from a sealed bottle. (Be careful not to say you can drink out of the bottle.) Then when everyone denies it’s possible, you turn it over and pour into the dimple and take a sip. You drank from the bottle and met the requirements of the bet. My other favorite has to be in a bar where you can still smoke. You bet that you can smoke a cigarette the longest without losing any ash. Of course you’ve rigged your cigarette by pushing a paperclip carefully through it. If it’s lodged in the filter for stability and you clip the end off, all the ash will stay on and the paperclip is invisible. You can even give it to someone else for a drag to prove it’s a real cigarette and not doctored with chemicals.
Poke a wine glass through a beer mug? That’s easy just poke it with your finger through the handle of the beer mug. Let’s try something hard that involves history, magic and logic:
Start with 16 matches arranged on a table like this:
I + II + III = IIII
(Use the matches to make the “+” and “=” signs).
The challenge is to move just one match to make this equation make sense. Bet your audience a drink that they can’t solve it in 5 minutes.
The solution would have made perfect sense to the ancient Romans. It looks like this:
I + I + I + I = IIII
To do this, take just one of the matches in the II and place it across the middle match in the III.
How about the ultimate bar math, a beer stein that’s actually a Klein Bottle.
A Klein Bottle does not have an edge. This is true of both theoretical Klein Bottles and the Klein beer stein so both are actually one sided. Just memorize this set of parametric equations and you’ll look like Albert Einstein the next time you go into a bar.
Did you read past the formulas and the match trick? If you did, I just lost a bet with Acadia! Make a comment to prove that you’re not intimidated by math.
*The upper frieze of the Memorial bears the States of Arkansas, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, California, Minnesota, Oregon, Kansas, West Virginia, Nevada, Nebraska, Colorado, and North Dakota. The lower Frieze lists the States of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, and New York. In addition, the engravings show the abbreviated names “Hampshire” (for New Hampshire) and “Carolina” (for South Carolina). We have no information why the prefixes for these states were not used.