October 25, 2001

13. Canadians sense a moral obligation never to drink during work hours.

Not even at lunch! In bars. They seem to avoid the hard stuff. --You jest!, contradicts Mehmet, incredulous. No it's true. They won't touch anything harder than Perrier. And even this last is considered marginally sinful. Most Canadians have the opportunity to drink every lunch hour that they head down to their local imitation pub (see: plaster walls), but they refuse to take advantage, only consuming the most modest amounts when in the company of their closest, most intimately trusted colleagues, when a lunch meeting takes almost the form of a rude mutiny. Mehmet's sitting-room spins, as if he had just circled sixteen times around a coffee-table trying to yank the ham from his dog's mouth. You must be more understanding of Canadian culture, Mehmet. It's not that Canadians have any aversion to drink; far, indeed, far from it. But the culture of drinking starts to emerge at an early age into an oppressive atmosphere of prohibition, stemming very likely from the Prohibition itself, and the enhancing act becomes a gesture of sinful shame. When the legend is such that anyone caught drinking before the permitted age will be ex-communicated, but the minimum age is higher than the age of majority, the resulting consciousness can only be confused. Why can't I, an adult, do what others can do? As the unanswered question is instilled early into every Canadian mind, but alcohol remains available and encouraged by media and the parental example, the only option is for the maturing consciousness to take on the role of protector of the great secret. Thus no one dares to admit that they enjoy what they believe is a sin, but they sin all the more in their quest to learn why they shouldn't. Fingers of free champagne cause nervous laughter.

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