As you will hear in Episode Nine of The Charlie Tonic Hour, this year I’ve been spending my Thursdays with a remarkable group of friends for “Happy Hour.” Like traditional happy hours, our gathering is centered around having a few drinks and complaining about work. We save money by meeting at one of the group member’s homes, everyone supplying a bottle of wine and snacks. We meet from 7-9 pm so we can feed our respective kids, spouses, or pets and then make our way to the happy place. It’s been the highlight of many my work week and been one of the few social things I do that doesn’t involve dressing up in costumes, wearing a lot of make up, and buying overpriced drinks at a bar. It’s been a lifesaver, so today I am going to tell you how to start your own happy hour to break up your workweek and make life better.
Step One: Have Awesome Friends: The core of our group is made up of three women, and I think you need at least three reliable core members to keep it consistant. Kristen is our fearless leader, the organizer and oenophile who hosts most often. She is a teacher at an urban school, but it’s her administrators who are currently making her work life a living hell. Kristen is also one of the most enthusiastic and intellectually curious people I’ve known. It breaks my heart to see her love of learning and education being beaten down by a heartless bureaucracy run by an egomaniacal jerk, and steeped in urban poverty. Luckily Kristen is fast preparing her escape from this toxic environment. She took some time during the festivities to read us a paper she was presenting the next day at a conference: How Catwoman’s Body Destroyed Society: The Comic Code 1954. It’s a rare woman who can combine comic books, feminism, and literary theory. Angie is the other core member. We haven’t known each other that long, but when I saw Angie with her husband at our favorite bar, drinking a beer and cussing like a sailor, I knew we were going to be good friends. She is an incredible listener and is also the only person I’ve seen successfully conduct an on the spot family mediation while incredibly drunk herself. Obviously you need a person like that in any drinking group.
Step Two: Develop a Rotating Cast of Colorful Characters: Added to the core mix it’s important to have a secondary circle of friends who will attend whenever they can make it and keep the conversation fresh. We have frequently been lucky enough to play host to events producer and professional dandy, Aloysius Fox, as well as everybody’s favorite guy and Pandora Promotions newest full-time partner, Charlie Moore. Add to that mix a colorful cast of characters that includes an adorable red-head, a Masters of Divinity, and the funniest woman on Facebook, and you have yourself a guaranteed good time. If you think you don’t know that many interesting people I am betting that you are wrong. In my experience most people are just waiting for an accepting group of friends and a few bottles of wine before letting their guard down to reveal a surprising quirk or interest.
Step Thee: Don’t Spend Too Much Money: The beauty of this arrangement is that it is affordable. Myself as well as many of my friends have chosen a life that is rich in experience, but low on the pay scale. In the past year we’ve started new businesses, quit soul-crushing jobs, and gone back to school. For my part I don’t regret a second of it, but it does mean that my entertainment budget doesn’t get much past a six-dollar bottle of wine and a loaf of bread. If everyone in your happy hour brings a similar level of libation you can have a feast worthy of the most upscale bar at a fraction of the price and without having to fight the douche-bags in business suits.
Step Four: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: The purpose of happy hour is to provide a little piece of the weekend to get you through the rest of the workweek. If the person who is hosting stresses out over making sure their house is perfectly clean, or the food is presented to restaurant standards, that just takes all the fun out of it. Of course Kristen always manages to make her house and the food look amazing anyway, but luckily she and the other attendees have accepted my “good-enough” style of hosting.
The week can get pretty hectic and I am grateful that I have this Thursday night reprieve to look forward to. Once I get to happy hour it feels like the weekend has already started and that work on Friday is a minor inconvenience. For the cost of a cheap bottle of wine and some fancy crackers we get camaraderie, a good laugh, inspiration, and the best therapy session you can buy for $15 or under.