I’m sitting in a restaurant right now, having dinner at 8 p.m. on a weeknight. And besides a funky barista, a couple grad students zoned into their glowing laptops and an oversharer at the bar who just got off her shift and isn’t sure if she should drink too much coffee, I am the only one here.
C’mon, Clarey, you’re thinking. It’s an early weeknight, well past the Triad’s preferred dinner hour, which is exactly 6:30 p.m. Where do you think you are, Las Vegas?
To which I say: Sure.
Last week, on a beautiful Thursday evening, I went to a free art opening at a non-traditional venue, featuring a known artist and high-quality work based in popular culture. More, it was a commissioned show. An hour into it I was one of four attendees, and the other three came there with the artist.
Later that night I happened upon my friend Jon Kirby, a writer, Winston-Salem native and all-around culturati. He had just got back from the West Coast — Portland, San Francisco, that sort of thing — where, he said, he had been performing “DJ sets for grown folks who aren’t afraid to come out on a weeknight.”
“I’m one of those people!” I said. “I thought we were going extinct.”
I acknowledge my age — I’m of a generation that understood it was required to go out among the other humans in the evenings with some frequency. Parties. Rock shows. Bars and restaurants. Movies and plays. It was the only way to meet other humans, for purposes of social interaction and, sometimes, mating, or to stay abreast of happenings in the local culture.
Now you can do accomplish all of those things on the toilet.
Perhaps the whole nightlife thing will eventually become a vestigial piece of our past, a thing old people do, like smoking cigarettes or watching the Weather Channel or getting hammered on gin and tonics in the garage.
If this is true, surely, the culture as we dinosaurs know it will suffer. Empty theaters and restaurants have a way of shutting their doors, eventually.