Am I Blue!








Ah yes, the Blue Laws, often forgotten, but still not gone.  Ontario is not the most morally repressive place on the planet.  There are places in the Muslim Middle East, matched by the American Bible Belt, where anything even smacking of enjoyment, is flatly forbidden, or fiercely frowned upon.  In Ontario, some killjoy politicians may pass legislation, but after that, it’s just the rule-following sheep who work to prevent the goats from having any fun.

Alcohol and tobacco are moving in opposite directions here.  A recent visit to a smoke shop in Detroit reminded me of what I haven’t seen around here in years – dozens of brands of cigarettes, and cigars, and loose tobacco, cigarette holders, pipes, ash trays, even bongs.

In Ontario, convenience stores are forced to hide all that behind plastic or cardboard covers.  See no sin – do no sin!  That worked so well during Prohibition.  When a pack of smokes is pulled out, the manufacturers are forced to use ¾ of the package to display pictures of diseased organs, rotted teeth, and a saggy cigarette, hanging down in a 90 degree arc, above a notice warning, “Caution!  Smoking may cause impotence.”  F**k you!…..if I could.

Ontario has come a long way towards normalizing alcohol enjoyment and use, but we still have a long way to go.  Up here in ‘civilization’, a “party store” will provide paper hats, candles, confetti, crepe paper, and Happy Birthday banners, whereas, down in the states…..

My childhood neighboring small town was “dry.”  No alcohol of any kind could be bought or sold.  It remained that way for years – as long as the voters could stagger to the polls.  Bootleggers were endemic.  Average alcohol consumption was estimated at twice what my town’s was.

Past, and present, rules often seem to make no sense.  No establishment which serves alcohol may have double-swinging “barroom doors,” whether external or inner access, although Ontario will let you have a beer while you watch naked strippers, something many American locations will not allow.

Bars, and licensed restaurants, have only existed for the last 30/40 years.  Prior to that, hotels provided “beverage rooms,” two per establishment, one for men, and another for “Ladies and Escorts.”  You could have 11 drunks around a table, as long as there was one token female.

Waiters/waitresses could only serve one drink per customer at a time, keeping them constantly moving, bringing out all those singles.  If you saw a friend over in the corner, you were not allowed to pick up your drink and go join him.  The law required the already overworked server to carry your drink over for you.

When bars and lounges started popping up, you still couldn’t order just booze, food had to accompany it.  A round of drinks would include a vending-machine cheese sandwich.  Often, the server would scoop it up with the empties, and re-deliver and charge for it with the next round.

Beer was bought at buildings labelled “Brewers Retail,” until enough confused American tourists forced the monopoly to rebrand clearly, as “The Beer Store.”  There, that wasn’t hard, was it??  😕

They’re starting to sell a bit of beer now, but for years, the government-owned Liquor Control Board monopoly stores sold only wine and distilled spirits.  No spectre of Big Brother there.   In my lifetime, we have come from:

Immediately after WW II, you had to go to the Liquor Store and provide identification and proof of age (21 years).  You were given a small notebook, and were allowed, once a week, to buy only as much as you could list on that week’s page.  If you missed so much as a 2-ounce bottle of bitters for whiskey sours, you were forced to wait until the next week.

In the ‘60s, we moved to a paper slip system.  Write the catalog number of the booze(s) you wanted, and a clerk disappeared into the nether-world of the back room, where, presumably, elves brewed the stuff up, out of the sight of the susceptible public.  Since people didn’t move around, you could be put on The List.  If you were caught drunk in public last Saturday night, the liquor store would refuse to serve you this Thursday, and perhaps for several weeks, until a manager unilaterally decided to annul the sentence.

Finally, we have reached the point where we can actually see the stuff on the shelf, put it in our own little shopping cart, and pay for it at the checkout.  Be careful though.  Some of those weird rules still exist.  “Only people 19+ can legally handle alcohol in LCBO stores.”

A local mother stopped into an LCBO store to pick up an eight-pack of Guinness for her husband.  While she dug her wallet out of her purse, her 17-year-old son helped out by placing the beer on the counter.  The clerk immediately asked him for ID.  He explained that the beer was not for him, but for his mother, who would pay for it, but the Can’t Touch It rule had already come into effect.

She went back and brought a pack up by herself, but now the manager came over, and accused her of buying the beer for a minor.  He claimed that staff is highly trained to prevent “second buying.”  All very noble, but this staff could never be accused of second thinking.

Bureaucracy exists to assure its own continued existence – and some strange restrictions and regulations.


15 thoughts on “Am I Blue!

  1. What a mess. 😀


    • Archon's Den says:

      It’s getting better. I recall my first adult trip to Florida, and finding that you could buy booze in pharmacies – like that’s healthy for you – but not on Sunday, because that’s a sin. 😯


  2. Dan Antion says:

    When laws and common sense collide, stupidity wins the day. This is crazy.


    • Archon's Den says:

      It is such a long battle to sweep the stupidity back. I sat in a hospital waiting room yesterday, and watched (and smelled) one little old lady urge another little old lady to try her new hand cream – both seated directly under the sign that said, “This hospital is a scent-free establishment. If you use scented products, you will be asked to leave.” The bagel with cream cheese that I got at the cafeteria tasted so good with aloe flavoring. Yuck! 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Wheeler says:

        Oh, man. Relative to scented stuff I can’t help but post one of my all-time biggest peeves, women who over-use perfume. Every once in a while I’ll meet one who travels in a bounteous fog of scent that permeates her surroundings and envelopes all whom she meets. Gagsville!!!! Why is it that they can’t understand that more is not always better?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dan Antion says:

        Oh, that spell. Perfume, lotion, scented this and scented that. I smell your pain.


  3. Jim Wheeler says:

    All too true, Archon. I was reminded by your post of the Ken Burns documentary about Prohibition, likely the most bizarre and yet instructive social experiment of America’s twentieth century. One particular incident stuck in my brain from that: one of the leading proponents of prohibition, a lady in Baltimore, was found to have bought and stashed a ten-year supply of booze in her basement just before it went into effect. Talk about hubris!

    People hate being told how to act and what not to do, and one would think legislators would learn that. I think the big flap over the measles vaccine and the anti-vaxxers down here demonstrates that well. Public education and building social pressure is more effective than law, and it seems to be working. It’s working for tobacco too, albeit slowly, but the same principle applies. Individual freedom can not be unlimited because what we do most always affects other people. Second-hand smoke and health-care costs affect other people, and unvaccinated kids affect other vulnerable kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Archon's Den says:

      The hubris often seems most apparent among the Religious. The Fundamentalist preacher who rails about homosexuals, and is against same-sex marriage, is the one caught trolling for queers in an airport washroom.

      Smoking, robbing banks and not getting vaccinated affects others, and makes sense to be legally controlled. ‘One drink at a time, don’t move it yourself, you have to order food, and young folks can’t even touch it’, rules don’t seem to prevent harm to anyone. 🙄


  4. BrainRants says:

    I’ve found that if you treat people like children, they’ll damn well act that way. Make something taboo, and it acquires a glittery luster few can say no to.


  5. Am I Blue! says:

    […] Source: Am I Blue! […]


  6. benzeknees says:

    Here in Alberta, every grocery store chain has its own liquor store in their parking lot – Sobey’s Wine & Spirits, Superstore Liquor, etc. Growing up in Manitoba, I had never seen this before & found it incredulous to find more liquor stores in town than gas stations + fast food restaurants. Next week we are moving back to Winnipeg so I guess I’ll get to see what changes have been made to MLCC (Manitoba Liquor Control Commision) in the last 18 years.


    • Archon's Den says:

      I didn’t know Manitoba was restrictive. I thought the blue-noses only got as far as Ontario, and the fun-loving adventurous spirits settled the west. Ontario is slowly lightening up, but don’t tell Toronto. They elected Kathleen Wynn, and think ‘fun’ is a four-letter word. 😯


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