Show the Colours


(“Cocktail” Gerald Murphy, 1927 available through Allposters.com)

“You hate people.”
“I know, but I love gatherings. Isn’t it ironic?”
— from “Clerks.”

I like the anonimity of the city. It seems a paradox, but you aren’t forced to interact with your neighbors that way that is required when you live in the suburbs. You may nod and smile, even wave, at your fellow city dwellers without actually having to stop and make polite conversation unless you’d genuinely like to. It seems to me a most civilised way of life.

I am sorry that I didn’t get to know a couple of my neighbors earlier, though. They are here, on the Outer Banks this same week, and the sun-kissed Mrs. E. and I enjoyed a marvelous meal of fresh fish grilled over charcoal, fresh corn, rather older wines and even older jazz with them just last night. They are a delightful couple, he an accomplished jazz musician, she a very successful attorney. I’m looking forward to more evenings with them.

Delightful though they are, they are not the subject of this post. Rather, it is their neighbors here at the beach who inspired me to write about a wonderful tradition that is sure to bring you closer to your neighbors, should you wish to get beyond nodding acquaintanceship.

“It’s five o’clock somewhere” is the rallying cry at the manse on many an occasion. My neighbor’s neighbors don’t have to shout to announce happy hour. Instead, if they wish to open the bar and soak the block, they fly the cocktail flag, and like moths to a flame, in come the friends to share in the festivities.

What an easy and elegant solution. The only question is what flag will you fly? Should we choose to show the colours, I think a pair of crossed cocktail sabres with skewered olives might do the trick. Or maybe that wonderful man on the cover of “The Savoy Cocktail Book.” “Cocktail” by Grald Murphy (shown above) would be very ambitious and completely perfect.

Or perhaps it’s time to invest in the green dock light that so entranced Gatsby.

What will your flag look like?

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8 Responses to Show the Colours

  1. What would read best at a distance? Perhaps a large corkscrew. I suppose a flag bearing the words HAPPY HOUR would be too crass?

  2. pvedesign says:

    Since I am a product of the 60’s, mine would be a large smiley face on a clock with the hands on 5 o’clock.

  3. Claire says:

    I love that you used that quote!

    If we had a flag….oh, I suppose that it’d be a collage of wine bottles & glasses, a bottle of tequila, a grill, & some….dog hair. It’s part of our charm.

  4. LucyinStLou says:

    What a chic idea! And thank you so much for including Gerald Murphy’s art. The Murphys always inspire.

    As for the flag…my aunt (in an effort to be ironic not snooty) had a flag made with what is supposed to be our family crest. Wouldn’t that be fun? The authenticity might be suspect, but it would be unique.

  5. We have an interesting situation. We love in an upscale condo development, and most of our neighbors are of an age slightly lower than that of our grandparents. So my husband and I (two thirty-somethings) are wildly impressed at how that generation entertains. They regularly invite us for cocktails at their various condos in our building. It’s like being the youngest members of an exclusive club – and it reveals so much about a grander time. Cocktails are made with flourish, hors d’oeuvres are passed (always) and (somehow) we are always the first to turn in for the night. This has been an eye opening experience to us.

    Ironically, if we lived amongst couples and families our own age, we would absolutely to the normal city-dweller “nod” greeting and keep to ourselves. It is nice knowing we aren’t expected to spend each Friday evening together that keeps us enchanted by these infrequent parties.

    So… I suppose our flag might simply have our condo number on it and state 8 pm. Trust me, they’ll know what it means. 😉

  6. This actually exists in Mr. B’s family home in Colorado. It’s actually made of metal and is placed in the ground. Black, with a martini glass outlined in white – green and red olive, natch.

  7. Turling says:

    I’m not sure what flag I would use. It would have to be made of stainless steel, as Mrs. Blandings is, as it would never be lowered and need to withstand our incredibly harsh Southern California winters.

  8. Very nice responses from all, thanks!

    Mrs. PvE, trust you to bring out the happy in “Happy Hour.” I’ll send a hearty “Smiles, everyone, smiles….” from my inner Mr. Rourke. As they say around here, I’m way past happy hour and working on “Happy Week” at this point.

    Thinking of Aesthete’s “cut to the chase” approach and Ms. Durbin’s cheerful suggestion, perhaps a simple graphic 5:00 on a solid background?

    Pursuing Mr. B’s traditions (I hope Mrs. B. that such gleeful celebrations continue today!) and Turling’s lines of thought, a time signature done in stainless steel could be passed around among the participating houses. Wherever it popped up next would be the host residence.

    LucyinStLou, a very nice gesture! Perhaps the chicken head from my family crest could be quaffing a cooling beverage.

    Claire, a St Bernard, perhaps? One of the useful brandy toting breed.

    In the meantime, I think that we should all meet at Ms. Durbin’s place. Jackets, please gentlemen. 8 PM?

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