Chacos column: What the heck is FAC?
FAC is the heady, promise-filled acronym for Friday Afternoon Club. These are the precious minutes that usher away the work week and lead you toward the whimsy of the weekend. Even if you work on a Saturday, like I sometimes do, FAC always delivers.
You may already be well-versed in this Friday underground ritual if you’re a teacher, a parent of a rambunctious child, have a social workplace, or just like to cherish a few moments with friends before starting up your weekend. My indoctrination into the club happened when I was an elementary school teacher many years ago.
Teachers, I quickly realized, need FAC more than any other group of professionals on the entire planet. After the last bell chimes for the week, staff can be found playing an intense game of varsity-style croquet or sipping beer and playing bocce in someone’s backyard. Inexplicably, teachers seem to have a superfluous stream of creativity and energy.
Since a teacher’s work is never really done, conversation probably centers around how to best support an unruly kid, the dreaded dress code, or how to raise money for an upcoming field-trip. This overworked, underpaid cohort needs an outlet, and their right for FAC is earned weekly. I still can’t help but feel a pang of envy when I see teachers gather to both commiserate and celebrate their jobs.
Parameters for the Friday Afternoon Club are loose yet indisputable. The FAC is clearly born first from need. For example, I recently needed to show some girlfriends what limited-edition liqueur goes best with a summertime gin and tonic. But a work deadline, a promotion, a birthday, a divorce, or just celebrating a sunny day can be the impetus for a casual get-together.
Next, there’s probably no set location, no specific guest list, no theme, and no host until midday on Friday. Spontaneity can be described as a pillar for the FAC, but proper planning does have merit.
An overly fastidious individual can take ownership of the gathering and showcase a funny cocktail napkin for the fête. I’m especially fond of those napkins saying something ridiculous like, “Stop me before I volunteer again!” or “What wine pairs well with a can of chocolate frosting?” No doubt this is an extremely classy touch, one that will make you feel special, especially if you use cheap paper towels the rest of the week.
For one FAC years ago, I even zested lemons and spent half the day dusting off crystal goblets. I made an appetizer, too. Nowadays, I prefer using the concentrated, obviously organic lemon juice and just use stainless steel cups. All my elaborate drinking glasses disappeared a while ago, and I now barely have time to clean the toilet before someone sits on it during their visit to my home.
After the idea of a gathering is voiced aloud, the FAC takes on a life of its own. Some individuals clamor to host, while others are just looking for a place to unwind and unload before heading home. For example, a few co-workers set up happy hour in the lobby of our workplace one cold afternoon. We grabbed a few Dixie cups and opened a bottle of wine. Even though sitting in chairs meant for toddlers and snacking on goldfish crackers wasn’t ideal for my joints nor waistline, the conversation was stellar.
In addition to simplicity, there’s an immediate intimacy FAC breeds. This allows for juicy topics and vast opinions to be shared loudly, as was done at the table with some girlfriends during my impromptu birthday lunch last week. Discussing the desires and acute needs of mature women is not for the meek, nor was the colorful choice of vocabulary, either. But the waiter appeared highly entertained, if not crimson.
At the heart of a truly fabulous FAC is the guest list, or lack thereof. Everyone should be invited to a FAC at least once, even the annoying neighbor or mere acquaintance. Different personalities, backgrounds, and genders are all great additions for Friday afternoon conversation and cocktails. I’m a firm believer that the eclectic weirdo brings buoyancy to any gathering. And every now and again, I dare myself to seek out someone completely new, just to keep things extra-spicy.
Lastly, as any veteran FAC-er will tell you, the final prop for a successful gathering is employing a solid exit strategy. At some point, you’ll want to leave the party or have everyone get out of your house. From experience, I can tell you, being blunt is best. That’s because we’re all confident there will be another FAC the following week.
HOW TO MIX THE PERFECT FAC
2 parts exasperation, stress, fatigue or need. Depending on market availability.
3 parts personality
1 part flair. For decoration purposes only.
Dash of organization
1-16 oz. beverage of choice
Mix well and measure for taste. Enjoy responsibly.
Andrea Chacos lives in Carbondale, balancing work and happily raising three children with her husband. She strives to dodge curveballs life likes to throw with a bit of passion, humor and some flair.
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