Wednesday, July 21, 2010

18 years and 18 shots of golf

Wednesday, 21 July 2010 – Do you remember your first drink? How about your first drink of tequila? When you first sipped the amber liquid from the Scots, did you immediately swoon, or swallow hard and breathe deep?  As a Scot, I’m fairly certain that my first drink came before I could form lasting memories. A little scotch and warm milk could soothe anyone in to a restful sleep.  Teething? A little scotch rubbed on your gums made the ache go away… or the care.  Either way, it worked.

As I got a little older, my grandma and I would always have a spot a tea after shopping and running errands.  On Sundays, we would opt for a wee sherry instead.  Harvey’s Bristol Cream was the sherry of choice.  To this day, I like a spotta or a wee sherry after a day of running errands. To the Scots, alcohol wasn’t only part of the cultural blanket, but was medicinal…  therapeutic… a cure for whatever ails ya.

Then, when I was about 12, I discovered I had a sweet spot for tequila.  Turns out that tequila is pretty good mixed with grape Kool-Aid. Perhaps because there was never a huge taboo around alcohol when I grew up, that a glass of beer with pizza on an occasional Friday night was pretty good, or that a glass of wine with dinner was part of the meal, I never really hit the legal drinking age green… or stupid about the effects of alcohol.  While friends were getting their stomachs pumped after the party (well, after they left the party), I was still at the party, relatively sober.  I worked in a bar and saw enough of the crowds bad behavior to think that it would ever look sexy to get that polluted. The legal drinking age draws a line in the sand, but it doesn’t tell you what side of that sandbox hold the smarter kids.

What makes people in Canada more able to handle alcohol at an earlier age? In Canada, the drinking age is 19… or 18… or 19… or 18… or 19…   really depending on what province or territory in which you live.  In the US, it is 21.  That is 21 no matter the state, or your maturity.  Are Canadians that much more mature?  Or, is the bottle of beer so much more engrained in our lives that really, by the time you are 18 or 19, you’ve already been drinking regularly anyway, they might as well tax you.  Or… is it just that at 18 or 19 you should be taxed just because?

Today is Legal Drinking Age Day. It was in July 1984 that President Ronald Reagan signed a bill setting the legal drinking age at 21 throughout the entire country.  I guess Rotten Ronnie wasn’t able to handle his liquor prior to 21 and decided that this made the most sense.  The liquor taxes are so much smaller in the US compared to Canada that there probably wasn’t as big a financial incentive to lower the age. In Canada, folks between the ages of 18-21 probably single handedly pay for the interest on our debt just in beer tax.  We are a socialist country no?  Or are we just more social?

I got an email joke from a friend one day last week that listed a handful of words that are hard to say after a few drinks.  They ranged from words like ‘proliferation’ and ‘preliminary’ to ‘anti-constitutionalistically’ and ‘transubstantiate’, to the near impossible ‘sorry, you are not my type’ and ‘no thanks, I’m not hungry’.  What is it about alcohol and snacks that go hand in hand? Is it because the only time 7-11 could possibly sell the mystery meat sandwiches and tube steaks of questionable "tube" is when you are just too drunk to ask?  There are the Gaines Burgers and the Gaines Burgers with Cheese at the In and Out, and Jack in the Box stays open late because they only start selling when the bars are letting out.  Then there is the chips, chocolate, and Chef Boy R Dee at the local corner store.  Do you ever wonder why the corner store carries on that canned pasta? It isn’t because people do their weekly shop, it is for us drunks at 3:00 am that decide they could really go for a can of ravioli. Fortunately, today is also Junk Food Day.  Go ahead.  Eat all the crap your stomach can take.  Then when you are throwing up in the morning you can play the universal guessing game called “What the hell did I eat last night?”  That game doesn’t have a set age…  and, like golf (a sport with 18 holes because there was 18 shots of whiskey in a bottle),  it was probably invented by the Scots.  Bottoms up!

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