There are a lot of people living in my house. Nine, in fact, when we’re operating at full capacity. So it seems strange to say that one living in such a busy place could ever feel a need for human interaction. There are humans everywhere. The young humans, however, outnumber the old ones at a rate of two to one. Because of this ratio, the adults are constantly in a world focused downward. The small people demand attention to their various activities and trails of debris, down there near floor level. When we do get a free moment, we tend to savor it quietly, engrossed in a book or doofing around online. Of course we speak to each other, but most conversations are interrupted by an urgent demand to find a toy or break up a squabble over a toy or apply a Band-Aid (usually in that order).
It was with a similar backdrop, several years ago, that RJA first introduced the concept of Cocktail Hour to our small social sphere. Originally intended as a brief, after-work stop-off for grown-ups heading to various activities on a Friday night, we quickly realized that cocktail hour was in fact the only activity that most of us parents had planned for a Friday night. The “hour” was purely conceptual, as most of us would stay as long as our hosts would have us. And, of course, our children. The founding principle of cocktail hour was that the kids would entertain themselves while the adults had some much-needed social time. And the amazing thing is that it almost always works. Aside from some category-five bedroom messes, kids ranging a decade in ages are able to play together without any major disasters.
Over the years, there’s been a core group of attendees, but also an ever-growing, ever-fluctuating cadre of friends looking for the same company that we crave. Some are married, some are single, some are even childless. At this point, what ties us all together on a Friday evening is closer to what created the original cocktail hour concept of the mid-century on which we jokingly based our own: human connection in an increasingly technical age. We spend so much of our time looking down – whether it’s at our kids or our iPhones – and not nearly enough time looking our friends in the eyes, talking about our lives in detail longer than a status message, hearing them literally laugh at loud.