Of all life’s unanswerable questions—how many stars in the sky; how much beta-carotene in a serving of John Boehner—none is as perplexing as this: Why can’t Marylanders buy beer and wine in the damn grocery store?
Did we defeat communism just to have Free-Staters forced into making multiple stops on their way home from work?
I’m from Ohio, and say what you will about the Buckeye State’s shortcomings—our casserole-based economy; the Cleveland Browns—we know that hardworking people deserve to buy their pinot and Pringles in the same place. (And presumably serve them at the same meal.)
It’s in the Constitution. Or so I assume.
But here in Maryland? That’s another story.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the idea of wandering into the neighborhood wine shop—here’s looking at you, Viniferous—and chatting up the owner about the perfect Riesling to accompany tonight’s wilted greens and goat cheese salad. But that’s hardly how most of us do things.
If you’re a parent like me, your evenings go something like this. It’s a Tuesday night, and you’re having Froot Loops for dinner. Again. And you’re out of cat litter. Again. You can’t not go to the store (see “out of cat litter”), but you also can’t not get a bottle of wine to make life more bearable (see “Froot Loops”).
And you know what else you can’t do? Take care of it all in one place.
It’s like the terrorists have already won.
If Maryland’s lawmakers want to give back to us, the poor, over-taxed citizenry, all it needs to do is take its antiquated liquor-purchasing laws, slip them a roofie, and put them on a train back to the 19th century where they belong.
Speaking of the 1800s, many years ago my husband, Ben, our preschooler, and I went to Deep Creek Lake for a spur-of-the-moment overnight. Our tactical error? Going on a Sunday. Because of Garrett County’s draconian blue laws, the Sabbath-day sale of alcohol was verboten.
During what can only be described as a despondent meal at our hotel, the waiter explained the horrifying situation to us, and then proceeded to set up a booze-buying scheme worthy of “The Wire.”
“There’s an old phone booth down the road about a block away from here,” he explained under his breath, his eyes darting nervously. “If you give me some money, I can take a six-pack from the bar and leave it for you under the seat inside.”
Ben and I looked at each other, wondering at what point our impromptu getaway had turned into a drug buy.
Skeptical, but wary of spending a beer-free night holed up in a cramped room with our feral 3-year-old, we gave the waiter 10 bucks and then quickly exited before the feds descended.
An hour later, Ben walked to the appointed drop spot, and there was the stash. Er, Heineken. It was even chilled. He looked around before heading back to our hotel, half expecting to spot Stringer Bell in the shadows.
Which brings me back to today. The year 2015. Are we any closer to enjoying basic beer-and-wine-shopping conveniences here in the Free State?
See that ad for Two-Buck Chuck at Trader Joe’s or that pallet of pinot on sale at Costco? Not here you don’t. In Maryland, we buy our drinks the old-fashioned way: by driving all over town and stopping at whichever liquor store doesn’t have our bad checks taped to the register.
Either that, or by flagging down a waiter from the Barksdale crew who can hook us up.
[This piece originally appeared in the Frederick Gorilla; illustration by Matt Mignanelli.]