Sunday, October 29, 2006

You want beer with that?

One thing I just can't get used to in Greece is seeing someone drinking a mug of beer in a fast food restaurant. Sixteen-year-olds can drink here and no one gets their panties in a wad about alcohol consumption, no matter where it is. I almost never hear about drunk driving accidents, and I rarely see people walking around town shit-faced drunk (except for a few tourists).

I find it in interesting that you find the reverse to be true in the U.S., which is less permissive regarding alcohol consumption than Greece. Drunk driving accidents are fairly common in America, I can see openly drunk people walking around any given night (at least, in Nashville), and you can't drink until you are twenty-one. And you certainly can't buy a beer in Burger King.

It would seem that a permissive society makes people happier and more responsible. Either that or it makes them indifferent.


Vol Abroad said...

Maybe it's something about Anglo-Saxon culture. There's certainly a permissive culture toward drinking in the UK - but you still see drunk people all the time. Drunk driving is less of a problem (I think) - but that's because of greater availability of public transportation.

teacher dude said...

Unfortunately, there is a huge problem with drunk driving in Greece. The problem is that it is so common that it really gets anything over than the most cursory of news coverage.

Anonymous said...

As a boy growing up in a Greek village a long time ago, my father offered me a drink of wine (which he and my mother had made themselves) with every meal. I came to understand it as something common place and it did not hold any magic spell over me later in life. After moving to the US, as a teenager, I tried the binge drinking that my piers thought so highly of. It was disappointing and I soon abandoned it. Wine and beer are to be enjoyed with good food, instead of swigged like some tonic to transport via a speedy journey us to some place real or imagined. This should be taught to children at a young age, but the puritan ethic of the USA forbids it--to great harm, I might add.

Now, I don't know how drunk Greeks get or don't get these days, but I can tell you that public drunkenness was quite uncommon back in my day, because the Greek peasants ate their mezedes and drank their ouzos as well as any fancy socialites I have met since, and you can criticize them for pretty much anything, but not for being drunken, rowdy fools.

Scruffy said...

It took about 30 years to catch up. The new generation of Greeks drink just as much if not more.

Maybe they are just better at holding their drink then Anglos?

Plus, inept driving skills and brinkmanship cause most of the accidents in Greece. Greece is still one of the top countries in Europe for traffic fatalities. (albeit maybe not from alcohol)

Tim said...

Maybe it's all the gyros - something in the meat has an element that provides anti-alcohol absorbtion. ;)

Anonymous said...

Scruffy said...
"It took about 30 years to catch up. The new generation of Greeks drink just as much if not more."

Too bad it has come to this.

Also, I wrote "piers' when I obviously meant "peers." I should learn that spell check does not equal proofread.

Emily said...

The difference in attitudes toward alcohol made a big impression on me while I was in Greece. I think part of the problem with alcohol in the US is that people think it is a reasonable excuse for doing stupid things.
Sadly, I know some people (college peers) who look upon alcohol as inherently bad and destructive. If all you see is people abusing alcohol, you can't understand that it's perfectly possible to drink in moderation.

Flubberwinkle said...

Tim (comment above) might have a point. I've heard some (sober) people advise (drunk) others to swallow a tablespoon full of olive oil in order to keep the alcohol vapours from "vapourising" (?)... Maybe fatty foods
(like gyros) consumed with heavy drinking slow down the drunken reaction. I have no idea if this is true.

Sadly, Greece has its share of drunk driving fatalities, it's even sadder because sometimes you don't know if drinking's the only cause or the general, permanent problems of bad Greek drivers (lack of driving education and skills) we're best known for. Deadly combination.