Show the Colours

(“Cocktail” Gerald Murphy, 1927 available through

“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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