Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Imagine That: April is Vermont's Alcohol Awareness Month

I guess it was alcohol day on the front page of our Barre-Montpelier Times Argus today. Because three of the four featured articles had to do with it. The gathering at McGilluddy’s got the top spot, including a photo of Ken Squire and Governor Jim Douglas reveling in the ninniness of Red Sox nation. But there are was also the article right below it on the fella in Waterbury who’s offering his bicycle services to inebriated bar patrons and, just below that, an article about the growing alcohol problem in Vermont.

Yikes. It’s enough to make me want a drink.

Since I’ve already bored the snot out of you about the McGillicuddy’s adventure (hey, I read your comments, you know), let’s look at the other two drinking pieces.

In the piece entitled, “Soused? Waterbury Man Rides to the Rescue,” Daphne Larkin profiles Waterbury resident Alan Aitken’s services to drive pub-crawlers who are, indeed, crawling, a ride home. But when the accompanying photo features Larkin on a bicycle, the adventuring side of my drinking self said: Cool. Imagine that, go out, have too many beers, and then get this Aitken fella to try and prop you on his bike and have one hell of a ride from Waterbury’s Alchemist to my downtown Montpelier apartment. Or wait, given the time it would probably take – falling off the bike and all – perhaps he should just take me straight to work…

No such luck, though. Because it’s only Aitken who gets to ride the bike. You see, his service is about using your car, as in: he puts his bike in your car, drives you home in it, drops you off and then bikes himself back to his home. Now that’s a community service.

Here are the only caveats: You must live or be partying within 15 miles of Waterbury Village for these services to be available. And, according to the Time Argus, here’s the fee schedule: $40 to get you and your car home; $5 off if you have your own bike rack or a pick-up truck so he doesn’t have to haul his rack; $2 off “if the customer doesn’t puke;” $3 off for pre-arranged reservations; and $1 per mile “ride-back fee.”

But, Aitken tells the Times Argus, “a lot of this is negotiable.” Well, I’d hope the puking part isn’t. Come on, buddy, stand firm on the puking. Or, rather, stand away from it. Whatever.

Unfortunately, Aitken has homed in on a growing DUI industry in Vermont. Currently, there are about 14 DUI arrests a day – yes, a day – in Vermont.

And that leads us to the third article, “New Vermont Web Site Has a Sobering Test.” According to Daniel Barlow – the new hotshot at the main offices of the Vermont Press Bureau – “April is alcohol awareness month and Vermont has some sobering statistics to confront when it considers its own consumption.” Uh-ho, why do I feel like my buzz it about to get trampled upon?

State statistics show that Vermonters drink more than the national average – 64% of Vermonters drink while the national average is 55%. And 15% of Vermonters report some kind of “binge drinking.”

But wait, I’m still stuck on the fact that April is alcohol awareness month. And as I look outside at the unbearable grayness of it all and the mud to boot, I guess I understand why. Give me a fucking drink already. Hey, it’s not often that a bastard like me can claim camaraderie with 64% of the population. Hell, I’ll take it where I can get it. Burp.

But the absolute best part of the article on problem drinking in Vermont is the concluding quote from Barbara Cimaglio, the deputy commissioner for the alcohol and drug abuse program for the Department of Health (now there’s a title that’ll drive you to drink): “Over the last several years, the legislature and the governor have really given us the resources to tackle the problem.”

Yeah, but it’s really too bad on the same day the Vermont drinking problem was being highlighted in the paper that the lead photo in that same paper is of the Guv partying down in – ahem – a downtown bar. Oops.

Sorry, it’s back to work for this painter guy. Speaking of which, here’s an old painting joke: Which came first, the painter or the drinker?

We’ll talk later….