That word Friday used to mean something more than just the day between Thursday and Saturday. It meant Miller time. Clock out and get down. Let off steam. Get a poker game together. If we had no other reason to celebrate, we just celebrated Friday by doing something we couldn’t afford to do the rest of the week.
One recent Friday, my wife and I went into the city for early dinner and a movie. We got to the bar/restaurant about 4:30, had a couple beers, and a wonderful meal. We clearly were the oldest customers in the place. Some of the folks knew each other, others were just part of their own TGIF group. There was a Friday energy throughout.
We made the 6:30 movie, and had a great evening. It reminded me of Fridays when we were young, except for the fact that we were home by 9:30 and asleep by 10.
Retired Fridays are a lot different from young Fridays. I haven’t quite adapted to retired Fridays. Because we have no work week to decompress from, and we never have to get up early, Fridays sometimes aren’t much different from Tuesdays.
We’ve lost that Friday feeling. (Righteous Brothers, 1964) Fridays were always important to me. They evolved over the years – as did I – but there was always a joie de Friday. It began late Wednesday, would build through Thursday, and explode on Friday. TGIF, indeed.
(By the way, I haven’t researched this, but I think TGIF is the first acronym in American history to become a verb and a chain of restaurants. It certainly speaks to the importance of the day.)
My high school Fridays were usually spent at Sunset, the sorta wild teen town our parents would not have approved of, had they known. It drew kids from surrounding high schools, including rivals Webster and Kirkwood. There was a live band (Benny Sharp), dancing and fighting (I could do neither), and meeting girls (I could do that, but not well). As Friday approached, excitement built. We never knew how Friday would turn out. It usually turned out like every other Friday, of course, but who knew when you would actually… meet someone?
College Fridays began at the local bars (25¢ for watered down beer), and progressed to a party somewhere, sometimes at my apartment, which I shared with my Episcopal minister brother who out of principle refused to buy me liquor under age. (Of all the big brothers in the world, I ended up with one who had principles!) However, I could usually come up with an ID and $2, and drive my Vespa – yes, a Vespa – to a liquor store for a cold six-pack. Add some chips and dip and a stereo, and we had ourselves a party.
By the time I was a working single, TGIF happened at 4:00 every Friday. For 12 years, I was a high school teacher and counselor. Nobody TGIFs like teachers. Every Friday we’d go to a bar close to school, play liars poker, and more often than not a card game would develop at someone’s apartment. Our group was mostly singles, with a few married couples thrown in, and we partied every Friday. That’s where I picked up my fondness for poker.
By the time I got married (second time), I was 40. Fridays had calmed down some, but it was still a day of letting off steam. We usually went out to dinner and a movie, by ourselves or with other couples. We both worked, so we still celebrated the weekend.
Now things are different. Retired people don’t have the need for Fridays. We can sleep late every day, go out to dinner every night, and there’s no stressful job we need to decompress from. Now we can experience Friday on Mondays or Thursdays, whenever we have the urge for an old fashioned and grilled scallops.
The young folks at that restaurant needed the weekend to let off steam. We don’t. When done right, retirement is spending the entire 25 years quietly letting off steam that built up during the past 70.
This old guy still misses that Friday feeling. I still have the urge to go out and celebrate like we used to. Even if we forget what we’re celebrating.