Alcohol

Alcohol

Just as with inhibited sex, the average American must live with a disturbed relationship towards alcoholic beverages.
To him or her they are narcotics rather than part of a hedonic culture meant to waken the joy for life in us.

From Hollywood films we all know the brown paper bag, in which a person, thus branded as an unsteady character, hides a bottle. His hand grasps the bottleneck, wrapped in the crumpled paper and guides it to his unshaven face.
Et voila! An instant outsider of society.
And while we’re in Hollywood films:
The bad guys are the ones that smoke cigarettes and the criminals are identifiable by their foreign accent. Believe it or not, that includes Englishmen!

In the early Sixties, I once bought a carton with six beer cans in the supermarket of a little southern town.
Shopping for the ingredients of a European supper that I intended to cook for my host family. I hoped to keep them from drinking Coke with my oeuvre.
During that time, the useful “multipack” cartons were being introduced.
Clever engineers had developped a machine capable of cutting, embossing, plying and printing this box, all from a single piece of cardboard, including a handle for carrying.
The cashier tucked the multipack, including its carrying grip, into one of those brown paper bags (see above).
A bit less comfortable to carry but:
“…. so people can’t see what you’re carrying home with you”, the helpful woman said.
Moderate drinking, especially the European custom of enjoying some wine with a meal are the exception here.
The main meaning of “drinking” in American parlance is neither slaking thirst, nor is it enjoying a glass of burgundy to go with the steak, it is synonymous with excessive drinking.

Other nations seem to have problems with moderation, too. Including some Scandinavians, perhaps.
But people in the wine-producing countries of the Mediterranean hardly drink excessively. In Italy for example, you never find the streets adorned with staggering men at night.

No doubt, America has just as much to learn from modern European culture as vice versa.
Unfortunately, it appears that Europeans are more prepared to pluck prunes from the orchard across the Atlantic (they have such a “trendy” appeal), than Americans are willing to adapt any European way of doing things (what would you do, if your own style was the best in the world).

One day perhaps, Americans may discover “..we’re not alone!”