Gongol.com Archives: March 2024

Brian Gongol

March 17, 2024

Health The third meaning of "Closing Time"

The song "Closing Time" has been a familiar anthem for more than 25 years, used countless times since it was released in 1998 to shut down bars and clubs with the familiar refrain, "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here". It's a cheery but firm reminder to move along. ■ The song even contains a second meaning; the songwriter intentionally incorporated a birth metaphor ("This room won't be open till your brothers or your sisters come" really was a reference to leaving the womb). Yet it's another line that deserves a second meaning, even if we haven't granted it over all these years. ■ "I know who I want to take me home" has the obvious overtures of finding romance on a night out. And taken with the writer's intended double meaning, it's about parents taking a newborn home. ■ But a third meaning altogether could easily belong to the simple idea that more youthful nights out than not end up going home in the company of friends. Friends are vital to any well-rounded life, and they're especially crucial to formative years of early adulthood. A survey of the cohort of students currently in college found that "nearly one in three students spends no time weekly on extracurriculars and campus events". Unsurprisingly, those disengaged students also had radically lower satisfaction with their school experiences than their peers. ■ The problem of social isolation -- even among the age group one might naturally expect to be socializing the most -- is such that the Surgeon General went on a college campus speaking tour, effectively begging students to make friends with one another. (There's even a deck of cards that tries to describe how to improve the practice of being with friends.) ■ Having friends is a self-evident good throughout all of life, and it's conclusively advantageous in an educational context. Everyone needs friends upon whom one can count to "take me home", in Semisonic's words, neither out of the obligations of family nor the desires of romance, but out of the entirely necessary condition of being a human being freely making connections with other human beings. It ought to hold our attention that so many people living in America today -- especially young ones -- seem to be struggling with the process. Friends are indispensable to health, wellness, and well-being.

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