Thursday, May 17, 2007

On buying bourbon at mid-day

Mark didn't think it was a good idea, going into the ABC store at mid-day, but I thought it was fine. Growing up in New York I remember Mom putting a bottle of scotch or vodka into the cart along with the rest of the groceries--there it was on the shelf, and it was no big deal to buy a bottle now and then. When we lived in LA the Safeway across the street from us sold "Fresh Fish" and "Liquor," according to the signs outside--to us it always looked like they were advertising "Fresh Fish Liquor" and we used to refer to our occasional booze purchases as such. Buying booze at the grocery store seems so wholesome and normal.

The ABC store, though, with its haze of stale cigarette smoke and even staler regrets, does feel a little seedy, especially at mid-day. But I wanted bourbon for a marinade (really! 1/4 cup each bourbon and low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tbl. brown sugar--a great marinade for two one-pound pork tenderloins) and I braved the atmosphere. There was a well-dressed guy in a bow tie picking up some good gin, and I brought my bourbon to the counter proudly, ignoring the tiny bottles of schnapps that sit next to the counter, like packs of gum in the grocery store. Does anyone just throw a couple into the cart at the last minute, as they might the gum? I don't know.

So all was well until I went to sign the electronic signature pad, and my signature came out looking like I had the shakes. I tried to laugh it off: "my signature always looks terrible on these things" and the clerk said "everyone's does" with a mixture of condescension and, um, was it derision? Did he think "everyone" had the shakes? Doesn't he know my signature looks just like that at the grocery store, too? (Where, sadly, they don't even sell beer and wine, let alone bourbon or fish liquor...)

But even that would have been ok. I know, after all, that my signature always comes out weird on those things. Backing out of the narrow parking lot--really, just keeping my foot on the clutch and rolling--I was thinking more about my signature than the telephone pole which I, therefore, bumped. Rather gently, but still. It's pretty scarred up, that telephone pole.

I guess a lot of people are buying bourbon at mid-day.

11 comments:

Jody said...

I get a little shaky in the ABC store myself.

It would help, I think, if they could just sell beer and wine there, too. Help the seediness quotient, anyway.

(I am almost 37 years old and I still feel a little transgressive when I buy hard liquor. Too sad.)

Libby said...

You're right, Jody, the lack of beer and wine does make it seedier. I'm 46 and I have that same transgressive feeling (though, truly, less so in places where you can buy liquor at the grocery store!).

Kelly said...

I've had that same experience (shaky signature-not telephone pole, though I did back into that old lady that one time) and it's so true that the lack of beer and wine turns up the volume on the bad girl feeling.

Claudia said...

I'm smiling. I think I've hit that same pole before. That is the world's most narrow parking lot ever.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Poor Libby! At least I can get wine at the grocery store here in NC...

sam said...

ABC stores are awful. Who decided that the state would be good at selling liquor? It's seedy, yes, but it also lacks all sorts of things that lowest-common-denominator regulation makes impossible. (E.g., my ABC store will never have Armagnac or Calvados, much less Becherovka, Slivovica, Unicum or Pálinka, the tasty central European liquors I've come to like.)

Libby said...

actually, WD, beer & wine are available in most grocery stores in VA, too--though not the one we shop at the most often. So it really is just the hard liquor thing.

Mom said...

A correction: hard liquor cannot be sold (or bought) in grocery stores in either New York or Connecticut, (where I believe you grew up!) So I couldn't have loaded it into my grocery cart....?

Libby said...

Mom, did the law change? I could have sworn there was Finast brand scotch back in the 70s. But maybe the liquor store was just next door?

In any event it's certainly available in CA grocery stores, or it was when we lived there...

kate said...

We can get hard liquor in grocery stores here. Plus you can get beer at McDonalds.

Magpie said...

Oh to live in a state where there's wine in the supermarket!

I've given up trying to sign those little electronic screen things...I kind of just do a wavy line...it has a certain insouciance.