Why don’t we have elevenses anymore?
You’ve had an excruciating work day. Your boss moved your deadline up, an irate customer yelled at you over an expired coupon, or maybe your desk mate smacked through an egg salad sandwich with his mouth open. Happy hour couldn’t come soon enough.
In the 19th century, you wouldn’t have had to wait. Start drinking before lunch, why don’t you? The tradition of “elevenses” meant it was customary for workers to take a break at, you guessed it, 11 a.m. In most cases, the respite was synonymous with a tug from the ol’ bottle.
This semester, most of my lecture classes are scheduled for mid-day, and I’ve got labs in the morning from 9-11. Eleven o’clock is the perfect time for a break, I’m realizing. I know how a hobbit would celebrate elevenses, but the American tradition is different.
Boozing wasn’t very taboo at first. In our new “alcoholic republic,” people (mostly men) passed the bottle at all waking hours. Employers were actually expected to provide hooch throughout the workday. It made sense that the mid-morning break now common in modern work environments naturally paired with whiskey. Thus, the American definition of elevenses was born.
Hmm. I should float this suggestion by the division chair, or even the chancellor. Except…this is a very bad idea in a commuter culture. Daily alcohol consumption before the drive home sounds like a catastrophe in the making, and it’s a good thing this custom faded away.
But wait! I don’t have a commute! I live across the street from my workplace. Surely nothing could interfere with a daily tipple for me, so maybe we can make an exception for people who live within walking distance of work.
Except then I’d become that “fun” professor who is oddly discursive and talks funny and occasionally falls down in class. So maybe that’s a bad idea.
I guess I’ll stick to 11:00 tea.