The Post-Retirement "Hump Day"
I DIDN’T KNOW that Wednesday was called “Hump Day” in working-class parlance until about four years ago, when I was passing through Durham, NC, and wandered into a barbershop with a sign in its window offering a Hump Day Discount. It was an African-American shop — I think I was a very rare white customer — and when I asked the barber/ proprietor what Hump Day meant, he clued me into the fact that for most people, the work-week is a grind, and since Wednesday takes you halfway to the weekend, it’s getting you over the “hump.”
Ha! We started talking about language, and I told him that I had spent nearly my entire working life as wordsmith at home, and had always loved doing what I do, even when it bled into my weekends and eliminated the differences among Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays. I think I must’ve come across as very middle-class and white when I told him this, as the idea that work is fun and what you want to be doing is a sure mark of privilege. He nevertheless gave me a very good haircut, included the Hump Day discount, and left me feeling that he surely liked his work, too.
NOW THAT I’M retired, of course, the differences among Saturday and Monday and Wednesday are even less consequential for me. The main difference, in fact, is simply that I prefer the weekday to the weekend NPR news shows — or, I should say, I prefer yelling at the weekday correspondents for their how-are-you-feeling journalism.
How to partake of this culture of ours — radio, television, film, books, social media — without feeling suckered, sucked in, recruited to one team or another? This, absurdly enough, is a major concern of my retired life. Here’s a short song I wrote about it, called “Wednesday Blue.”
(“Nothing to do, I’m Wednesday blue, but I still have to keep them from stealing my brain . . .” The bass player is Mark Murphy; the dobro player is Richie Hirschlag.)