Monday, November 12, 2007

Great Suburban Traditions No. 7 - Cocktail Hour

You have to say one thing in suburbia’s favour. It’s so fucking dull out here that every day at six o, clock, without fail, you’re dying for a good stiff drink.

Just think. The day’s behind you, and you’ve accomplished nothing besides getting half way through the laundry, buying some groceries, successfully managing the school run, drinking scads of coffee (and peeing it out again), and thinking vaguely about some much more fruitful, creative and rewarding projects that you’d rather be doing instead, but are currently putting off until the next decade.

Ahead of you lies the evening, when you’ve got dinner to make, and home to stay at. This could further involve activities as pulse-pumping as finishing off the laundry, watching a broadcast program on the highly popular electronic medium known as television, or trying to read a book or a magazine before falling asleep in the process.

In between, though, is cocktail hour. There’s no getting around the fact that this is the best moment of the day out here on Quiet Street. That keen rush of want, round about 1800 hours, is almost as delectable a hit as the first swig of the drink itself. It comes with the acknowledgment of the need - which is an integral part of knowing, recognising and ultimately enjoying your own weaknesses - followed by the decision on whether to succumb or defer the pleasure for a further 24 hours.

Either way is fine. Give in, and you get the drink. Resist, and you can allow yourself the brief and deceptive comfort that you are not, really not, in any way alcohol-dependent. This makes the following day’s cocktail hour all the sweeter. If you’re in that rare suburban club that can hold out until Thursday (otherwise known as The Big Fat Liars’ Society), then good luck to you and all, but you should know you’re severely missing out on suburbia’s greatest reward.

The ironic thing is that in US suburbia there’s rarely a bar (or anything else useful) within walking distance. One of my great schemes that I’m putting off until next decade is a chain of impromptu roadside suburban cocktail stands, open between 5.30 and 7 only, to be called something like The Shot Of Life. They should do roaring trade, and by the time every street’s spoilsport puritan has called the cops, we’ll have packed up and left.

This would require people to leave their houses, talk to their neighbors, loosen up, and publicly take part in something considered to be detrimental to one’s moral, mental and spiritual health. In the rest of the world it’s known as ‘drinking.’ Here it would be a revolution. Until then, we remain the silent majority, serene and satisfied for an hour each evening as we gratefully knock back our fool’s medicine.