The Magic of Wednesday Night Beers
Life would be incomplete without the accidental rituals we form with friends
It’s a Wednesday afternoon and I’m feeling a little restless and wistful because, right around now, across the country in New York, the Wednesday night gang will be convening without me. It’s not a big deal, missing one Wednesday, but when I miss enough of them it starts to affect me on some deep level, like a deficiency in some crucial nutrient or going off your meds. If you’re lucky, you may have fallen into one of these groups or routines at some point; if you’re very lucky, you may have found a few of them over the course of a lifetime. And once or twice in the middle of one of these periods you might have the sense or mindfulness to look up from your life and notice, This is the good part. These are the sweet spots, the idylls, surrounded by dreary routine and administrative bullshit, i.e. real life, punctuated by the occasional milestone or tragedy.
The current incarnation of this institution in my life is a group of friends who get together every Wednesday night for beers. Any time a newcomer asks us how we know each other, we all have to stop and look at each other and think. Originally, we met through our friend T.J., who makes rather a practice of collecting friendships: I first met Isaac in Beijing over a decade ago, when I was visiting T.J. there. But T.J. now has a young son, and can’t make it to a bar very often anymore. At this point we all just sorta know each other. If you asked me, I could probably tell you what most of these people do for a living, but it’s not the most pertinent or interesting fact about anyone there, nor is it any kind of uniting factor. Some of us are there every week; others are occasional visitors; some of us are big talkers, some just sit and enjoy the company — though the quiet ones are as voluble as anyone else when a subject of interest comes up. We’ve had picnics and movie nights, gone on road trips and attended weddings, shared apartments, cat-sat, accompanied one another to doctor’s appointments, and helped each other move. None of us are couples, though most of us have boy- or girlfriends who occasionally join. Inevitably, some of us are closer than others, but ultimately, I think, everyone’s closest allegiance is to the group, to Wednesday night. It’s just a…