Friday evening is coming. It arrives after a busy week of work, as people roll up sleeves, loose ties and shirts, stop by to get some flowers or a dress just ready from the laundry. It is the evening when we meet friends, go to places to see and be seen, forget about living and just live. Friday evening is the universal human liturgy of celebration, the crowning ceremony of weeks of work and routine. It has been the ritual of freedom and fun and parties from times immemorial.
To expect for Friday evening is no less of an experience. We rush for last-minute shopping or for one more visit to the gym that will make us look improved if not dazzling. We take bubble baths and try to come up with jokes that will make us the king of the party. We prepare, we anticipate, we look forward to. To wait for Friday evening, in essence, is a process marked by longing and expectancy, by imagination of the future and of preparing oneself for it. It is an experience of hope: we live the present implications of a coming, desired event.
Yet the source of Friday evening’s power is a matter of debate. Behaviourists will tell us that we yearn for it because of repetition and reinforcement. We long for Friday evening because every seven days it arrives and we enjoy ourselves. We desire it because we have taken pleasure from it in the past. And I’m sure that this explanation is essentially true, because this satisfaction has been reinforced to us over and over, ever since we went to watch cartoons and get ice cream with grandpa, or when we first held a girls’ hand at the seventh grade party.
But I wonder if a deeper dynamic is not at play here. Cartoons and holding of hands are correct explanations but are not enough. Maybe we long for Friday evening because the final Friday evening is yet to come. Maybe our parties are just rehearsals of the definitive party. Maybe our music and food are echoes and foretaste of music we are yet to hear and a banquet we are yet to taste. Maybe our merriment and celebration are just shadows of what they will one day be. Maybe this life is a succession of long weekdays, and the definite Friday evening is still to come, and a grand, eternal weekend after that.