Drinking at a bar during the day rarely appeals to me. I tried it back in 1994 and it didn’t go well. I went alone to one of the Madison Street joints. I didn’t know anyone there and didn’t exchange a word except to order a pint. It was an older crowd. They were mostly retired guys, with ideal schedules for day drinking.

The Urban Dictionary defines day drinking as consuming alcohol between 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. I already knew the pitfalls of day drinking but decided to give it another try. I went to one of the Madison Street joints to deliver extra copies of the Review to a reader who had requested them.

This time I knew the bartender, who had been a grade school classmate of my sister. I also knew several other guys from my grade school days. We reminisced about Ursuline nuns, classmates we knew and other warm memories of Catholic school. It’s been said that connecting with childhood friends is a plumb line to the past.

These were the kind of guys who were familiar with plumb lines. Many of them were retired tradesmen. It was fun spending a lazy afternoon watching a Cubs game. The conversation was animated but we didn’t solve all the problems of the world. We couldn’t even solve the problems of Forest Park. A restaurant owner and one of her servers came in and discussed the disturbing incidents that have recently plagued Forest Park.

Mostly we kept the conversation light and poked fun at the Cubs who looked like they were going to blow the game. More people came in that I knew, including my second cousin who I had never met. I fit right in with this gray-haired age group.

It got even friendlier when a colleague from the newspaper stopped by. I rarely see anyone from the Review, so it was a pleasure to revive the camaraderie we used to enjoy. We talked shop and vowed to revive our weekly meetings in the newsroom to discuss story ideas and plan articles. In the meantime, the reader I was waiting for was still an hour away.

This left me little choice but to order another pint. Something magical happens when you day-drink your third beer. The bar isn’t boring. It’s the greatest place you’ve ever been. The daytime atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable. I once conducted a survey of bartenders in town and found the happiest ones worked the day shift.

Their job gives them the chance to socialize with regular customers and friends. They don’t worry about rowdy patrons or breaking up fights. I wondered whether day drinking might also be a good fit for me. After all, I’m retired and every day feels like Friday. It’s also good to get out and see people, rather than isolate at home. Even watching baseball is more fun when you’re surrounded by fans.

The Cubs pulled out a win and the woman I was waiting for finally arrived. It was approaching 6 p.m., the cut-off for day drinking. I had easily conversed with the retired guys, as well as some younger acquaintances. I didn’t feel quite ready to join the “Jeopardy” crowd, though, which is another cool day-drinking activity.

I feel fortunate to live in Forest Park, where there are so many daytime hangouts. Most of these joints are an easy walk from my home. So I’m going to give day drinking another try. If you’re looking for retirees to watch sports with, or answer game show questions, I guess I’m now one of those guys.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.