One For The Road

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It is an Edinburgh-wide truth that a lone female’s ability to grab a cab at the end of a night out decreases in direct proportion to the upward height of her heels. Slip on a pair of ballet flats and you’re sure to find a fleet of taxis for the picking. Rock your hottest, highest heels and you, my fashionable friend, are destined to walk the stag night gauntlet of inappropriate propositions and public displays of urination. And, it was in this latter situation that I found myself not too long ago when The Hubby was out of town.

With no orange light in sight, I sent my girlfriends in one direction and started off upon my stilettos in the other – tottering my way home along the cobbled streets with all the grace of a baby deer, learning to walk, on ice, after being shot by a tranquilizer gun. Needing to rest my feet momentarily, I did what all classy girls do and stopped to lean against a kebab shop window. As I looked up to respond to the drunk guy munching chips that no, this hen disnae, in fact, want tae go hame with him, I noticed another man casually strolling down the street – cigarette in one hand, pint glass in the other.

What was this wanton disregard for public drinking ordinances? Get this man a brown paper bag, or at the very least a Solo cup, lest he be destined to spend the night in the drunk tank. However, no one else around me, including two police officers, seemed to notice.

Maybe it was the pain of my vanity finally getting to me or maybe it was the consequence of one too many bourbon and gingers, but I started to consider the contrast of quaffing in the two countries I now call home, and I came upon a startling truth. That being, nothing reveals the true character of a nation so well as the way in which it conceals its public consumption of alcohol.

In America, the right of privacy is tantamount to a holy tenet to which we all adhere – agnostic, atheist, and evangelical alike. Couple this with a rocky relationship with alcohol laws and voilà the red Solo cup and its less elegant brother, the brown paper bag, become your everyman heroes. Useful to the homeless and the hoity-toity alike, these are the ubiquitous symbols of the necessity for what I like to call crunkulation without observation. Our society operates on this very principle, and I dare say, without its protection, it would all descend into chaos.

That brings me back to Scotland. This is a country without pretense or guise or overtly enforced open container laws. You buy your drink, you earn the right to drink that drink anywhere the mood strikes – inside the pub, outside the pub, walking along the street, sitting in a park or at your desk on a Friday afternoon. This testifies to a more fiscal view of life: take the world at face value and always make sure to get your money’s worth out of it.

Had I just generalized the heck out of two noble nations? Well, yeah. That is what we, the human race, do best. When faced with the unknowns of a long (and cobbled) road ahead, we stand artificially tall, try to make a little sense out of the world, and toddle forward.

Image credit: Solo Company