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!