Following up on my call to bring back Cocktail Hour, Hank B picked up the ball and set it up.
We all met at a pleasant but non-descript hotel bar in Hank's neck of the woods, which is about midway of my daily commute.
Hank assembled about seven or eight of his friends; two couples, a couple singles, and a floater who stopped by for a quick one.
Hank B and I go way back, all the way back to Back In The Day. So while we took separate paths in life and, as a result, there is about a twenty year gap in knowledge of the details of our lives, we know each other pretty well.
So besides Hank, I didn't know anyone.
It made for a true test of Cocktail Hour.
I had two Cocktail Hour rules for myself:
1) Do not talk about my job
Why no job talk? Well, for me the Cocktail Hour is a transition ritual, shedding the persona that serves as a uniform in the corporate world.
I am grateful that I have a decent paying job and work with cool people. But my job is how I make a living, not my life's mission (if your job is aligned with your life's mission, mazel tov!) Also, whenever I talk about my job I find it turns into a networking discussion which, for me, may often be necessary but still is part of making a living and, therefore, like part of my job.
2) Two drink maximum
Why only two drinks? That's my personal limit when I am going to be driving; and, I am sure not coincidentally, more than two drinks is the point at which alcohol stops simply subtracting what I want to subtract --- the residual stress of the day, a few loose strands of self-consciousness --- and starts to add to what I don't want it to enhance (a taste for sharp verbal sparring, intellectual or otherwise)
My drink of choice was a 7 and 7. Seagrams 7 whiskey and 7-Up.
The 7 and 7 has a great refreshing combination of cool, gingery not-too-sweetness plus warm whiskey kick.
And I love its cinematic pedigree.
I think cinematically. Classier people than me may think of scenes from Hamlet or Wuthering Heights. My favorite metaphors come from the movies.
The 7 and 7 speaks of a casual manliness. It was Tony Manero's drink in Saturday Night Fever (as my friend Jim the Brooklynite reminded me, to wash down those double decker pizza slices "two, two, gimme two")
It was Jimmy Conway's drink when he first meets the young Henry Hill in Goodfellas, stuffing a twenty in Henry's shirt pocket while telling him "Hey, kid get me a 7 and 7 and keep 'em coming."
And it was cinema (and I include television in "cinema" since it is so good nowadays) that informed a great Cocktail Hour conversation.
We marveled at the haunting twists of True Detective. Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle were compared and debated.
Philip Seymour Hoffman's incredible career was assessed, with Hank B, who hated The Master, nevertheless extolling Hoffman's performance.
Two drinks later, most of us peeled off, heading home, awaiting the next Jersey snowstorm.