Once again, your alligator mouth has outrun your hummingbird golf game, and now it's time to pay up. You owe your annoyingly skilled opponent—we'll call him Eric—$43, and that's a problem. As he drums his fingers on the grillroom table waiting for his cash, you realize that giving Eric his winnings will transform your immediate future—namely, dinner and a movie with the shapely Brittany—into mac & cheese and Netflix with your Labradoodle. This cannot stand.
How do you deal with this awkward situation? Simple: Don't pay. From long experience screening calls from student-loan collectors, convincing police we made a complete stop, and pleading to significant others that we need to play golf on Saturday and Sunday, we offer this four-point plan for skipping out on a bet. No thanks are necessary.
1. DEVELOP SUDDEN AMNESIA
When Eric reveals the damage, act incredulous about the size of the wager—or, indeed, that there was any wager at all. If he challenges your statement, turn serious—offended even. Widen your eyes, turn your palms toward the ceiling and exclaim, "Dude, you know we were just screwing around. I don't remember this being for real money."
2. "GOT CHANGE FOR A HUNDY?"
Congratulate him on the big win, pull out your wallet, produce a $100 bill and say, "Got change?" Chances are, he doesn't, at which point you can offer to square up with him next week (welcher's code for "never"). Make sure there's nobody around capable of making change, like the bartender. Oh, and there's one catch: You actually have to have a $100 bill.
3. STALL FOR TIME
Look remorseful and sad. Say "things are a little tight," and ask if you can pay later. Tell him that payday is next week, or that you're waiting on a check to clear. Keep the timing of payment as ambiguous as possible. If he still wants his money right then, tell him you've got your checkbook in the car. Finish your drink, head to the car, then burn rubber out of the lot.
4. LAY ON A HUGE GUILT TRIP
Tell him paying means you won't have the gas money to get home (be sure to show up with less than a quarter-tank) or that it's your kid's birthday tomorrow and you still have to buy a present. (Keep a cute photo of your kid handy on your smartphone.) Play on his sympathies, but choose your tale wisely. You'll probably need a fresh one next week.