photo: jonathancohen/flickr

It’s lonely being a writer.  Sometimes I go for days without seeing another human being except my husband or the barista at the local coffee bar. When I’m deep into a book project, I try to remain focused.  My phone calls with friends are, “Can I call you back? I’m in the middle of searching for the right adjective.”

Although some days, I send an email to my friend Rick that goes something like this, “I don’t know how much more of this I can take. My client in Chicago is driving me bonkers. And my feet are burning from stomping out ten other fires. Meet for cocktails at 6?  Signed, Miserable in Manhattan.”

Rick responds, “You betcha. I’ve been testing recipes for a diet book since 5 a.m. and writing a book proposal for a supermarket chain. Heading out to buy more groceries for testing. Later.”

At precisely 6 p.m., as I’m pouring some cold vodka into a glass and adding some olives and olive juice, the phone rings. When I pick up, I hear Rick’s voice and the clink of ice cubes going into a glass on the other end of the line. Time for our ritual end-of-the-day phone cocktails: Phone-tails.

Rick lives in New Jersey; I’m in Manhattan.  I know his drink of choice is a Rob Roy–Scotch and a touch of sweet vermouth.  I know that because that’s what he always drinks when we “meet.”

photo: seth anderson/flickr

We talk about our work. We bitch and gossip. We discuss what we’re making for dinner. We trade recipes and opinions on theater, movies, and ask if a singer we heard on the radio is still alive. And we drink.  Short 15-minute chats allow for just one cocktail. But longer 45-minute, intense talks mean two drinks.

Some evenings, my sister Gail in Ohio and I have a glass of wine, while catching up on family news and what my brother-in-law Ron is making for dinner. Although the time difference can be a problem, West Coast friends and I have the occasional phone cocktail just to hear one another’s voices. It means I can work later and they can start drinking earlier.

Oh, it’s 6. Phone’s ringing. Got to go. But you should try phone-tails.


Harriet Bell

Editor’s Note: phone-tails don’t have to be made with alcohol. Here’s a compendium of non-alcoholic cocktails.

We’re wondering about Skype-tails…

top photo: JonathanCohen via Flickr; second photo Seth Anderson via Flickr

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4 replies on “phone-tails: cocktail breaks with dear friends – by phone!

  1. I raise my cyber-glass to more great ideas like this. And there’s no need for a designated driver. Though if you overindulge, is there a need for a designated talker?

  2. Lovely idea. I am a freelancer and often schedule ‘coffee break’ with a far flung colleague or former co-worker. We send an Outlook invitation and make it official! Helps to stay connected and provide a sense of community when working out of a home office all the time.

  3. This post is perfect for me.

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