It's midnight and I am thinking about booze. Anyhow, a couple weeks ago your loyal correspondent attended an office happy hour that ended in disaster. This experience inspired me to come up with some basic guidelines on how to avoid being stuck with an absurdly high check (I wasn't, I ran).
1. If there are more than five people ask the waiter to provide separate checks.
2. Buy your drinks from the bar. This way, at the end of the night when thirty people are converging on the bill to try to sort out who owes what you can casually walk away.
3. Bring cash. When you have failed to follow rules #1 and #2 this rule is a vital safety valve. Here is what you do, when the waiter brings the bill to your table do not, I repeat, DO NOT take the bill into your posession. Gently guide the bill to your neighbor and look over their shoulder and calculate the amount you consumed plus tax and tip, round it up and throw the wad of cash at your neighbor and run.
4. In the event that your neighbor is faster on the draw then you are and guides the check over to you: Pick up the check, calculate your amount, put your cash on the tray or folder the waiter has provided and shove it into the hands of the first person that runs towards you to satisfy guideline #3. This is called hot potato. Chuck the check and then RUN!
5. If you have not adhered to rules #1-#4 then you will be stuck with the bill and will be amazed at how many people forgot to add a drink here or tip there or are too stupid to figure tax.