By Terry Sweeney
Lately, I feel I have been slipping down a slippery slope not of my own making; thanks to this “Spring Forward” nonsense which required me to move my clock ahead an hour. I recently realized that when I am beginning my usual 5 o’clock Happy Hour, in reality, I’m actually starting to knock-em-back at 4 o’clock!! Yet I’m still pretending it’s really 5 along with my fellow delusional countrymen. Soon I’ll be meeting friends for a pre-drink at 4 (really 3!) and then, before you know it, I’ll be having a glass of wine with my lunch at 12 which is really 11 o’clock which means I’ve started drinking in the morning before it’s even noon! Perhaps I should just call the Betty Ford Clinic now and book a room before they fill up with more confused drunken daylight-savers like myself, and I can’t get in.
You can’t mess with Happy Hour like this! It has its own unique history that dates back to the 1920s and the U.S. Navy. Apparently, back then, the sailors had on-ship shows at the end of a hard day of sailing and drank themselves silly and got “happy.” When I say shows I don’t mean cornball musical numbers from “South Pacific,” I mean men putting on boxing and wrestling bouts with both betting and booze contributing heavily to their ship-board “high spirits.”
Happy Hour was so young and naive then … he had no idea the trouble that was brewing along with his beer. Soon came that godawful Prohibition and the passing of the 18th amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol. One of the darkest periods in our country’s history. Literally. People gathered in the dark in clandestine “speakeasies” to have cocktails before going out to dinner since restaurants could not serve alcohol. Thus giving birth to the 5 to 6 o’clock Happy Hour time frame. Years later, in 1959, the Saturday Evening Post, reporting on this now-entrenched phenomena of pre-dinner cocktails, coined the term “Happy Hour.” By 1960, it had become mainstream. Restaurants started offering discounted savory appetizers together with discounted drinks about that time. Once again everybody was happy with the new improved Happy Hour (now two or three hours ) especially the “Mad Men” style ad execs and their oversexed secretaries who liked to take a long lunch and hanky-panky it up.
But not everyone stayed happy. Fast forward to 2012. The Utah state legislature recently passed a ban on Happy Hour that went into effet
Jan. 1. What? Who doesn’t like Happy Hour? What’d Happy Hour ever do to them? Does this mean if I ever find myself stranded in Salt Lake City, I can’t meet Marie Osmond at 5 for a cheap glass of wine and some fried cheese? Sometime in the future, will legislation be introduced that spreads this kooky restaurant joy killer to other states in this great big hard-drinking country of ours? What about Nov. 12: National Happy Hour Day? Will that too be canceled? I hope not. What a grim Big Brother scenario that would be. Leave my Happy Hour alone! Or I will be forced to move to France, (where every hour is Happy Hour) and drink barrels of French wine and eat triple cremes and eat creamy sauces and pates and probably get gout! Let me tell you something: If I end up in a French gutter in rags holding out a paper cup asking, “Buddy, can you sparez-vous a Euro?” I’ll know who to blame — the Happy Hour Haters of this world! Enough said, it’s 4 o’clock … Happy Hour! Cheers!
By Terry Sweeney