When the weekend sun surrenders to the stars, local men and women go staggering in search of what Tom Waits called, ‘The Heart of Saturday Night’.
They do their hair, wash their pits, shave the parts of them that the world might see, and, with an optimism unbruised by a thousand fallen Saturdays before, book a taxi to take them into the town.
Normal people, unfulfilled by their jobs, relationships and circumstances, often defer their happiness to a fanciful bliss that they hope the weekend will bring.
On occasion, I have wished away weeks in this same spirit, imagining that all the stress and tedium of those five working days could be washed away in the rising tides of the weekend.
With a desperate, blinding hope, the work-beaten masses seek salvation from the monotony of their nine-to-five existence in local bars and nightclubs.
In feverish worship, they scurry towards the open doors of their favoured temple, fall to their knees before its sticky altar, and call for pints of intoxicating communion that might dissolve their defences, allowing hymns unholy to temporarily release their suffocating souls.
Laugher. Tunes. Conversation. Craic. Romance. Release. Bliss. Meaning. Euphoria. That is what the seeker hopes to find when they go in pursuit of The Heart of Saturday Night.
However, the sad truth is that, for every few that succeed in sneaking up on the beating heart of Saturday night, a few more do not.
In fact, as is often the cruel irony of effort, the harder you look for it, the more it evades your grip; like cigarette smoke fleeing a closing fist.
Take any given Saturday night, and only a small cross-section of the partying population of Omagh will be able to remember it in a year’s time.
The lucky might recall some moment of indelible hilarity or unforgettable romantic fortune.
For the less jammy, however, the essence of the night will linger longer that they would wish, often preserved by a balm of embarrassment and shame.
But, for the vast majority of revelers, almost every night will be subsumed by that big, indistinct cloud of unconsciousness where live the ghosts of all Saturdays past.
So, what’s the upshot McElhatton, ye dismal, downbeat, pessimistic plonker? Would we all be better off sitting in the house from Friday through Sunday, vegetating within the confines our domestic walls?
Not a bit of it.
What we should do instead, is take a bit of pressure off the weekend by finding ways to enjoy the days that fall between them. High expectations beget underwhelming outcomes, as everybody who has ever felt miserable on their birthday knows all too well. I understand that this simple solution is so obvious as to probably seem patronising to some people.
And, here, coming from some people, I would have to take this criticism on the chin.
There is no doubt that there are plenty who – because of circumstance, psychological disposition, or some other powerful barrier – are not going to be able to find humour and happiness simply by making a conscious effort to do so.
However, there are many others who make little to no effort to enjoy life outside the weekend, having accepted at some stage that it is a fundamental fact of civilisation that the working week was made only to be suffered, borne and endured.
In fact, old Tom Waits himself might say something like this, albeit with more lyricism, cool and cleverness.
There is a certain amount of habit in happiness, and the more you look down, the more you’ll see only the ground. If you’re looking to find the Heart Of Saturday Night, I reckon you have to at least try to at least feel the pulse of an aul’ Tuesday or Wednesday first.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere
SUBSCRIBE TO CURRENT EDITION TODAYand get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
(CLICK ON THE TITLE BELOW TO SUBSCRIBE)