This post originally appeared June 28, 2018, on the Chile Today Hot Tamale! website. (www.chiletodayhottamale.net)
A few weekends ago, Kathy and I attended a baby shower in Asheville, at The Grey Eagle. They don’t normally hold baby showers at The Grey Eagle, as it is a music venue, but the owner is friends with the parents-to-be, and so it happened. A couple of summers ago, I saw Don Eason and his excellent Allman Brothers tribute band, Idlewild South, at The Grey Eagle, so I was thinking of Don as I entered. Sure enough, I discovered that Don and his band had been there just the weekend before the shower.
A friend once told me that Don had owned a bar in Chapel Hill, sometime after my days at UNC. It occurred to me that Don never knew the role I played in the success of his bar. I suppose I should tell the story.
During the time I lived in North Carolina, it was tough to get a mixed drink. If a county or city voted to allow alcohol sales in the jurisdiction, it was limited to beer and unfortified wine in grocery stores, gasoline stations, or bars, and hard liquor only in state controlled ABC stores. You could get a beer at dinner, but not a scotch and soda. The one exception was the Brown Bag law: if a restaurant had the proper license, you could bring your own bottle, turn it over to the waiter, and then have the waiter serve you mixed drinks, out of your bottle, for a set-up fee. This of course caused problems if a group of, say, four people were going out to dinner, and each member preferred a different libation.
The other problem with brown bagging was an unintended consequence. Once the seal on a bottle of liquor was broken, it could not be transported in the passenger compartment of a car. You could transport the opened bottle in the trunk of a car, but for some reason, that didn’t seem to be as appealing as killing the whole bottle at dinner, resulting in more DUI arrests than should have happened.
Around the time I was finishing up at Chapel Hill, North Carolina changed its drinking laws so that local municipalities could vote to allow “liquor by the drink” instead of “liquor by the bottle.” Therein lies my tale.
I believe the “local option liquor by the drink” election for Chapel Hill was held in October of 1978. I don’t remember the exact date. I do know that it was on the day that the moving van was packing up our little apartment for the move to Maryland and my first professional job. After the moving van was packed, I strolled over to the church behind the apartment (no longer there), our polling place, and cast my vote for the proposition. I then hopped into my Fiat and drove away, never to return as a student, and very seldom to return as a visitor.
So, Don, to the extent that a few mixed drinks contributed to your success, I’m happy to have helped!
I finally met the surgeon who will remove my cataract, and we got along just fine. After a bit of conversation, we discovered that we were both at Chapel Hill at the same time: he was an undergraduate student while I was a graduate student. Further, he was an undergraduate taking a chemistry course I taught. The dates suggest that he could well have been my student. (The odds are not great, though: a lot of grad students taught freshman chemistry labs, as UNC graduated more bachelors degree chemists than any other school in the nation at that time.) Of course, my first thought was “Did I treat this guy right, or was I an arrogant jerk?” The doctor’s first thought was “Did I behave as a typical obnoxious pre-med student, or was I okay?”
We laughed. Neither of us remembered the other, so I suppose it doesn’t matter. It is funny, though, that our first thoughts were of past behavior. Both of us wondered whether our behavior then met our current standards. It never would have occurred to me back then that I would be asking such a question today.
So, here is some advice, free for the taking. Always treat others as if, one day, they will be holding a sharp object next to your eyeball.