“Alcohol: Because no great sea story ever started with someone eating a salad.”Author unknown
Today happy hour denotes a time frame after the normal work day when restaurants and bars offer discount pricing for appetizers and alcoholic beverages. This practice widens the business’s customer base and lures them into staying for a full dinner once they’re all liquored up! Who doesn’t appreciate good happy hour with friends at the end of a busy day of work?
Let’s first explore the origins of the happy hour. Yes, you guessed it! The original concept of happy hour began with the United States Navy during WWI. Sailors aboard the USS Arkansas developed an entertainment program to alleviate boredom while at sea. Boxing, wrestling, singing and dancing were among those activities. Surprisingly, alcohol consumption was not the focus.
On a side note, my only shipboard experience in the Navy was before the internet, IPads and cell phones! I spent my limited free time reading books, writing letters to mail home and doing advancement-related correspondence courses. Alcoholic beverages were banned at sea.
Over the years, the term “happy hour” became more about drinking than entertaining. According to a 1959 Saturday Evening Post article detailing the lives of government contractors and military personnel in the Caribbean, it was a term used for afternoon drinks in a bar.
Thus the concept of “happy hour” was subsequently civilianized, leaving establishments across the country clamoring to develop their own happy hour strategies.
During the 1960s and beyond, the women’s feminist movement also helped to catapult the popularity of happy hours into the main stream. With the development of the birth control pill, more women than ever were entering the workforce. Men could no longer rely on their wives to be at home to make them a cocktail after work so they could unwind. Instead, both men and women, alike, flocked to their favorite local happy hour to relax after a full day of work.
Problems With Happy Hour
Recently the practice of attending happy hours has taken a hit. Driving under the influence is not tolerated in any form, so happy hour enthusiasts must have a safe ride home after imbibing. Also, covid-19 social distancing protocols have left partakers leery of going out to crowded bars after work. Which also brings us to the fact that many people over the past year have adapted ways to work from home, including Zoom meetings. This recent workplace paradigm shift has also resulted in a decline of the way we approach socializing outside of the office.
I was surprised to learn that 11 states in our country have banned happy hours. Massachusetts, Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont have enacted bans due to drunk driving fatalities in those states. They are not allowed to discount drink prices. Massachusetts has currently introduced a bill reversing their ban to help businesses stay afloat during the covid-19 pandemic.
Solution: Online Happy Hour!
In the past, those of us having friends and colleagues scattered all over the world provided limited opportunities to party with them on a regular basis. Now, thanks to social distancing and evolving technologies, we realize that we can enjoy online happy hours without having to leave our home! There are many video chat platforms from which to choose, including Zoom, IMessage, and Facebook Instant Messenger, to name a few. The advantages are extraordinary:
No need to find a safe ride home if you drink too much
Come as you are! You can wear your pajamas, if you want
You will have clean restroom, or at least a level of cleanliness that you are used to
You won’t run up a large bar tab
There’s no “grab-assing” and you can kick out anyone who annoys you.
You can leave with a moment’s notice without all the fanfare
Good Times, Past and Present
With the exception of when we were raising small children, my husband and I have enjoyed many a happy hour everywhere we were stationed. Hands down, my favorite happy hour venue was a tiny bar a few miles off of Camp LeJeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina called the New Shogun II. It was a favorite for all of us hospital corpsmen, both green-side and blue-side.
My account of the details have blurred over the years; but to the best of my recollection, the owner was a retired military man. His wife prepared a full complementary buffet of Filipino cuisine every Friday! The food was exquisite and the beer was cold! I will always cherish my evenings spent there with my shipmates, especially during the first Persian Gulf War era. Pitchers of beer and sea stories always flowed freely. Good times!
Today, my husband and I are retired from the work force but we still get a hankering for a few drinks on a Friday afternoon. We’ve traded shots of tequila and bottles of craft beer for a bottle of wine on our deck overlooking the St. Lawrence River. We quietly muse over our happy hour antics from years ago. With a twinkle in our eyes, we thank our lucky stars there were no cell phones, cameras or live feeds documenting our shenanigans. What a celebration of wonderful memories!
Thank you for reading! – Barb, the River Blogger (Btrb)
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