A Happy Hour Life

Somewhere in the Sydney sky, Los Angeles-bound, I curiously peruse the “classics” movie selection of my in-flight entertainment. A journey this lengthy has more minutes than the latest new releases can even begin to occupy, so why not? Plus, the boyfriend is fast asleep so the film selection is truly mine. I quickly decide upon “How to Marry a Millionaire.” Its synopsis goes something like this:

Three models with modest means become roommates in a Manhattan apartment that is very much out of their wallets’ reach, even cash combined. But this is neither here nor there, because the apartment is a major part of their elaborate scheme and completely necessary. Because of the apartment, they may act the part of wealthy women, living a wealthy life. And who do wealthy women meet and marry? Well, wealthy well-to-do men, of course. Oh, and it stars Marilyn Monroe. Naturally, my jet-lagged interest has piqued.

Before pressing play, I recall my own marriage plot with a sheepish, yet still hopeful smirk:

When I graduated from college, my boss graciously gave me a month sabbatical to travel, party, sow my oats or whatever, in hopes that I’d return to the office no longer a student intern, but a hard-working career woman – such a cool dude. And so I did. I went to Mexico and Las Vegas. I went on dates. I shopped and did lunch with girlfriends. I slept all day. I watched TV all night. Needless to say, I sowed several joyous oats. After all, I couldn’t possibly let el jefe down so early on the job.

Amongst all of this carefree, adolescent joy, I, in my own weird Jamie-way, began mentally preparing for the next stage in my life: the post 9-5 work day happy hour. You see, I considered this activity a direct route to my future. While I’d left college with a degree in journalism, I didn’t procure that MRS degree that I assumed would be so simple to achieve. I decided that it would be different this time. I was, after all, more of an adult than I’d ever been before. And happy hour is something that adults do. They meet one another, do adult things like drink wine with cheese, and they pair off into marriage. And so my best friend and I would set alarms, rise and shine around noon, get all dolled up in respectable daytime makeup and flattering career ensembles – you know, blouses and bottoms other than cut-off jean shorts – and frequented bars where we suspected other college-educated, white-collar men might grab a beer, or if he’s fancy, a martini. This went on for a few months.

To be perfectly honest, we never really met anyone of interest. Things were different now. We weren’t just college girls anymore. As the months went by, we really did become career women with higher expectations. Thanks for the drink Mr. blah blah, but it doesn’t warrant my phone number, much less a date.

Without even realizing it at the time, my thoughts were precisely on point with “How to Marry a Millionaire” actress Lauren Bacall. There’s a scene where she hustles a casually dressed man out of their apartment, even though he bought them all champagne and deli meats for lunch, proclaiming: “The first rule of this proposition is that gentleman callers have got to wear a necktie. I don’t want to be snobbish about it, but if we begin with characters like that (Mr. Casual) we might just as well throw in the towel right now.”

As the years passed on, happy hours sort of morphed into a friendship activity. I realized that I didn’t really enjoy being picked-up at a bar. I didn’t like the sloppy come-ons, I don’t want to pretend to be interested in your life, and I’m tired of searching for excuses as to why I’m not available tonight, or ever. I came to the bar to catch up with my friend. She isn’t my wingwoman and your company isn’t necessary.

Damn it. Where was I suppose to find my MRS now?

My love of the happy hour was reinvigorated when they became mandatory for work. They were called receptions, not happy hours, but we in the biz recognized this time as, “mandatory fun.” You go, you drink, you network, you shoot an email and connect opportunities. Boom. To me, it was the happiest hour of all. I was getting paid to mingle and I never had a tab.

More years crept by. Receptions, networking, after dinner drinks, emails – all in a day’s work. So imagine my surprise when I met a college-educated white-collar man of serious interest in some bar in some city because we were both partaking in mandatory fun. When I saw him again, months later in some new city, he was in a suit, with a necktie. I remember it exactly. I don’t even have to close my eyes. I can recall the way I melted into my chair as I lapped his tantalizing appearance into me. Finally, my hours and hours of happy hour had paid off. This was it. He was what I’d been blousing-up for and toasting to all these years. And in that instant, I couldn’t think of a single reason why I shouldn’t be available to him right then, and forever.

I’ve been dating the suit for exactly one year. Still, every thing he says interests me. Every suit he wears seduces me. Every happy hour with him is the best happy hour I’ve ever had.

Cheers to never throwing in the towel and cheers to the Happy Hour!

The QnQ – THENnNOW

THEN

Back in the days of binge drinking and blacking out, oh wait a second, I suppose I should be more specific – back in the days of “Temp, Temp, Temp, Temp, Tempe Roll Call,” an Arizona State University masculinized mantra – so we’re talking freshman year, my older male friends, whom I’d known since braces and natural, unbleached hair, formed an exclusive all boys club to both quantify and qualify their sexual conquests.  They called it QnQ.

Decoding the acronym?  Don’t be fooled by the aforementioned ‘Q’ words above.  I’m not saying I didn’t hang with smart young guys who’d grow up to become successful men, because a decent number of them did; what I am saying is that their clever club name was rooted in shallow male bravado and simple math.  Proud members, clearly in an attempt to brand themselves, slapped oversized QnQ decals in the windows of their Honda Civics and, if memory serves me correctly, they even had shirts made.  At that time, I actually wished I was a dude, because I thought I could bring value to their image.  I was also dying to know what in the world QnQ meant.  And I’d always been a fan of t-shirts, I just wanted a damn t-shirt.

I was never privy to any official QnQ mission statement, hell I was only told what the letters actually meant after months of begging one member I’d known the longest and respected the most.  And I suspect that he only told me in an effort to shut me up.  You see, after some careful, albeit inebriated observation, I could tell that whatever those letters meant, they weren’t positive and my newly single, promiscuous ass was worried it’d been receiving negative Q reviews.

Thankfully, my ally assured me that I had nothing to feel shameful about and confessed this: “It means quantity, not quality.”

Ahh ha.  Now there is value in this meaning, but not the kind I’d want to admittedly contribute to.  Boys – they lead such different lives.

NOW

Being a Smilfy to two young children has its challenges and its joys.  Most days, I feel like I’m teetering between the two trying to make sure that one doesn’t greatly outweigh the other because then I might lose my little, learning Smilfy mind.

I simply want this: To be a good role model and a dependable friend, someone the kids can count on.  I also strive to be their advocate – their parents define the term polar opposites.  It’s also important that I be respected and demonstrate basic disciplinary responsibilities so that I may keep some order on our lives.

So when Caroline was getting ready to start elementary school, she struggled with the fear of leaving her old friends at her intimate private school and making new ones in a gigantic public school.  She expressed this worry with wide eyes and such veracity that even I, an adult, was made to believe that this really was “the end of the world.”    Goodness, the girl does worry.  We’re sort of connected in that way.  I’m what you’d call a seasoned worry warrior.  It’s important that I keep my cool for her.   

In the wake of her worry, Caroline started noticing that her daddy and I seemed to have “a lot of friends.”  She was taking note that when we had parties plenty of guests arrived and that when we mentioned a friend it was never the one she thought it was.  It was cute to see her try and keep the names straight.  Then one day she just imploded, “I just want lots of friends like you!”

It’s sort of strange to write, but that college QnQ experience sprang to mind, so I gave it a Smilfy twist and explained this:

“It’s QnQ, Caroline.  That stands for quality not quantity.  One amazing, genuine friend is better than a bunch of bratty ones who don’t really care about us.  Having a friend is one of life’s greatest joys.  This friend is a person to laugh with when something silly happens; cry with when things don’t go your way; call upon when no one else is around; and share life with.”  I emphasized the word with because friendship is a partnership.

I continued, “The best part about a friend is that you don’t ever have to break up.  You don’t need to dump one friend to be with another.  You can literally be friends with countless people you vibe with and keep the best ones for decades.  You’re going to spend a lifetime slowly accumulating a great collection of dependable people who you’ll be proud to call your friends.  So for now, focus on finding one special one to have slumber parties with and be happy knowing that later in life you’ll have a few more to go to the movies with.”

In true Caroline fashion, she impatiently rolled her eyes at me, but agreed to go with the QnQ roll,  “Smilf, Smilf, Smilf, Smilf, Smilfy Roll Call.”