One thing I wasn't used to was the liquor laws, especially in my fine province of Ontario. In Niagara Falls on that 1st weekend back, I met up with my friend Ben on the Sunday night. We were headed over to my friend's apartment, and when Ben arrived to pick me up I suggested we go and get a few libations to bring over.
In Korea, this would be as simple as going to the nearest store - supermarket or convenience. In Japan we would have even been able to scout out a vending machine on the street - it was only about 9:30, afterall. (Vending machines selling alcohol tend to shut down around exactly 11:00pm.) Ben informed me that buying beer was impossible. "WHY?" I demanded. I've been, obviously, away too long.
"Because The Beer Store is closed."
I shit you not. If you want beer in Ontario, you must go to The Beer Store. Guess where you have to go if you want liquor? DING! Five points for you if you guessed The Liquor Store! Both are government owned and subject to grandparently hours. No drinking after 8pm on a Sunday night, don'tcha know! (Nevermind if you're in Cottage Country, like I was for most of my stay, where there's - as the Soup Nazi would say, "No booze for YOU" after 6pm most nights.
What surprises me is that I doubt the way things are in regard to liquor laws is the way people want them to be. If the majority of the people - the people who drink, that is - would like to be able to buy themselves a nice bottle of wine or a "two-four" of beer at their local convenience store or gas station - why can't it be so? Why are the fine people of Ontario putting up with being treated like a bunch of irresponsible babies? Our French brothers and sisters in the fine province of Quebec aren't having to put up with this. And it's been this way forever, or, at least as far back as I can remember. Which is forever. Too long. Rise up, Ontarians. Get those silly backward Amish style laws rearranged before I get back there, or there's going to be hell to pay.
Likewise, I was going to meet my friends on a beach to play around in the water and watch the sunset. I was looking forward to it, and I mentioned to my friend, "Great! We can get get a cooler and some ice and a few beers and have some fun!"
"Actually, you can't drink on the beach," I was informed.
"Huh? Why not?"
"Because it's not licensed."
And it all came flooding back.
Unless you're in an area with a paid-for liquor license, you can't have a drink in Ontario. Unless you're at home.
I've been spoiled (or perhaps more accurately ruined) by being in Asia for so long. I've become an expert (in penises, ha ha, just kidding) in being able to drink a beer in one hand and a bottle of soju in the other with a bucket of kimchi on my head while navigating the uneven narrow darkened alleys. And I also manage to almost never bump into the Koreans who are doing exactly the same thing.
Finally, in Ontario there's a 2am "last call." Alcohol is lifted off the tables (and right the hell out of your hand) anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes after that. Why? Bedtime?
"Oh - the government thinks it's time us folks hit the hay! Night night everyone!" Again, I say "WHY?"
I'm a reasonable person, and I've been trying to think of why these laws make sense. I can't figure it out though. If someone can enlighten me, please do. Otherwise I question why the provincial government has this choke hold on "fun," and more so, why Ontarians put up with it!
22 hours ago