Do you remember Fridays? The indescribable feeling of utter joy that signified that thankfully school was over for another two days. The misery of sitting in a classroom against your will was to be alleviated and replaced with the respite of resentment from parents who didn’t know what to do with you.
Yes, Friday was a fine time. Friday represented hope, a brief, fleeting window in which anything was possible and the misery of school, with its press-gang style education was exposed for what it was, finite.
Hope had largely dissipated by Sunday, when the great looming leviathan of more school crept in with a grim sense of inevitability. Still, in the brief moments of freedom, things felt good, and we celebrated and fully took advantage of our freedom by doing what every teenager does when given a load of free time, absolutely fuck all.
Precious minutes of liberty were spent wandering listlessly around Scotland’s capital, looking at stuff no one had the money to buy while basically behaving like complete wankers, a role that came naturally to most of us. Indeed, these periods of relative freedom were marked out more by their lack of originality than by any life defining moments. Though it was never directly discussed, I supposed we assumed adulthood or university, aka adulthood-light, would bring some kind of revelatory, all-changing experience that would suddenly bestow meaning on the aptly named ‘free time’.
So we bided our time and waited patiently. The life of a teen is quasi-religious in its dedication to doing nothing while waiting for an imagined concept to change anything. However, salvation would come sooner than anticipated and our monastic existence of FIFA and pornography would soon be shattered by the oncoming of the messiah, the one we had all been waiting for, booze.
Booze changed the game, it really did. People had been experimenting for years; a Moses in the desert level of fruitlessness defined a search for perfection which normally resulted in tears, parental call-outs and the occasional trip to hospital. The reflections from the back of a friend’s mum’s car or the outpatients’ at the Royal Infirmary highlighted the basic fact that nobody had any clue what to do.
It wasn’t like in the movies, Bond never pissed himself or threw up in his mouth. Bond played impossible card games like baccarat and effortlessly seduced women from the USSR, while we made piles of cans in a freezing park and talked about the things we had seen Sasha Grey put in her ass. It was clear that nobody had yet worked out the magic formula of having a good time with booze.
The onset of being legally able to buy and consume alcohol quickly dispelled the need to funnel the demon drink down your throat, or sit in a pub, all fuzzy faced and young, faster on the draw than John Wayne, ready to skull a pint at the sound of the words “any ID lads?” Now booze could be consumed in quantity but also with a chilling calmness that was hitherto unheard of.
University provided a hark back to old times. There was crying, regret-laden phone calls and the pestering of NHS Fife, but offset with way more sex. I say way more sex but what I mean is just sex, period. The digital projections that had sowed our minds for years were replaced with actual, real life women, women who for some reason found the act of sucking beer through some gardening equipment indelibly sexy. The government gave us money which we spent in abundance on a dalliance of different coloured and flavoured alcohol. Looking back on it university was a playground, four years of booze soaked abandon interspersed with the relatively regular shag. If you fucked up, no-one cared.
People say drinking is a long game of highs and lows, a fact that the seasoned piss-head will tell you is utter bollocks as you wander round living a 4/10 life at all times. In any case, the hedonistic abandon of university came crashing down after four years to be replaced by conformity and Charles Tyrwhitt shirt deals, school was out and work was in.
On the positive side this brought with it varying degrees of disposable income which could quickly be broken down into units of pints and pence. At university the days had been meaningless, carpet bombed as they were by seemingly endless decadence. Now we were on the rota. All of a sudden, Friday meant something again. It was quickly discovered that the elation of finishing another anonymous week could be inflated ten-fold into an almost overwhelming feeling of pure joy, to be achieved by the self administration of 6-10 pints of lager, 1.5 bottles of wine or a miscellaneous quantity of spirits, with all three options to be engaged once a year at the Christmas party.
Work was as bad if not worse than school, deprived as it was of anything that could be remotely construed as interesting. Adulthood was a land of extremes, an up and down roller coaster ride confined to an imperceptibly boring backdrop. Friday’s feeling of freedom would be inevitably offset by Saturday’s crashing comedown and Sunday’s unbridled introspective sadness, and the bi-monthly trip to IKEA.
Though Friday’s return brought with it meaning, the eternal flame of freedom was wavering. The end of the week spluttered a quick shock of extrication as opposed to the more encompassing emancipation of our juvenile years. Like a shot of adrenaline that gets less and less potent as every week goes by, so became Friday. In the pubs, friends, acquaintances, colleagues and lovers hark back to the days where a small pile of cans in a windswept park represented more than just the immoral leanings of a corner shop owner, it represented something bordering on hope. In a world of cubicles, suits, commutes, timetables and Sharon from accounts, this hope is vehemently gone.
So life comes full-circle, well almost full-circle, Saturday morning’s bone-shattering hangover is a novel addition to the drinking experience, one that has replaced the slight grogginess of ten years ago. However, all the rest of traits are still there, the aimless lack of direction, the lack of imagination, the complete absence of thought and, of course, the marathons of pornography. The graph spiked, burned bright though briefly, before returning back to the steady monotone of human existence, and it is here that we find ourselves at 5:45 every Friday, ready and waiting to wash it all away with lager before starting the whole process again in 48 hour’s time.
Cover image courtesy of Ian Sane via Flickr
Read more of Laurence’s work here.