There it is, right alongside a list of other tentative album titles: Group Tightener. An expression I’d almost completely forgotten.
Group tightener. A beer your friend needs to finish so you can all leave but he can’t do it alone, and a beer is a terrible thing to waste, so you all pass it around and drink it as fast as you can. Group tightener.
It is a thing you shout to exhort your friends to help you finish your beer, disguised as a fun communal activity. I’m realizing this all now as I’m typing it. It’s an expression I haven’t needed in years.
I don’t know if people still say it. I’m driven to suspect not. All the mentions on Google are back from when we would have been using it. A painfully hip expression I didn’t even know was painfully hip. ‘Cos I mean, how fucking hip can you be literally begging your friends to be codependent?
Group tightener. A thing a gorgeous scruffy boy at the bar shouts in a corner to get you to come back to the table. “Group tightener!” When your most desperate and broke friend re-materializes ex nihilo at 1:49am. “Group tightener!”
The number of strangers I swapped spit with in dive bars out of social convention is … honestly astounding. But doing drugs comes with some faith. Passing a joint. Sharing a cigarette. Hoping the bobby pin this lit ball of opium is jammed on didn’t just come out of somebody’s hair.
I can’t remember ever instigating a group tightener. More, I can’t imagine myself instigating a group tightener, because that would mean admitting defeat in the face of alcohol. I mostly just remember standing off to the side of them, desperately wanting to be outside, smoking, planning our next move.
I must really have thought something of this phrase back then. I must have known it marked us out. For being utter douchebags, probably, but, all the same…well, you townie peace of shit, you like it here and you like what makes it here. And you can reach way back when the night was still yours and get a four-beer chill without touching a drop.