Dear Open Container Laws,
I love you.
I was in college when we first met. I had just started my first year in Savannah. I noticed you from across the bar, a stack of cheap plastic cups near the exit. You were new, intriguing, mysterious.
They didn’t make laws like you where I came from. They do now. But back then, they didn’t.
I didn’t know how to approach you at first. I didn’t know what the rules were. But I asked around. Got the info. Then, one night, I just went for it.
I walked over to you, but I paused. I was nervous. I took the top cup off the stack tentatively, and looked around to see if anyone was watching. They weren’t. I poured what was left of my Harp from the bottle to the cup, dramatically, like Bill Nye mixing solvents.
I looked around again, but nobody seemed to notice. I set the bottle down, and then, with the confidence of a mediocre white man, I strode out into the street. WITH A BEER IN MY HAND.
To be on a public street, on a regular ol’ Friday night, wandering about, drinking alcohol—it was beautiful. What freedom. What power. What glory. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
You broadened my horizons. You opened me up to a whole new world. [Editor’s note: Don’t you dare close your eyes.] You altered my fundamental approach to drinking. No longer did I need to concern myself with the naive and unsophisticated concepts of “chugging” or “hurrying.” Enjoy those, plebes, but I have places to walk to while holding my plastic cup.
Instead of evenings built on stops and starts and self-contained visits to this place and that, my nights turned into fluid and freewheeling spectrums of booze-consuming antics. People and places and beverages and incidents blurred together into a somewhat memorable if not entirely discernable run-on sentence of an experience that required a decent amount of Memento-ing and note-checking to piece together the following day.
It was sublime.
I cannot imagine a better, more formative environment in which to construct the foundation of my drinking lifestyle than your loving and free, non-closed container environment. You are, in many ways, responsible for the person I’ve become. And I thank you for that.
But being exposed to you at such an early age also set false expectations. You became ingrained in my mind as simply “the way things are.” And that’s not the case, is it?
Too many times have I looked for you across the bar only to catch eyes with some strange patron. Too many times have I found myself in a new city and thought, “this place would be perfect,” if only you were there. And too many times have I tried to leave a bar, drink in hand, only to be rejected from the streets and forced to consume the remainder of my beverage in the confines of a place I no longer wished to be.
A fickle one, you are. But that’s also what makes you so thrilling. When we manage to find ourselves together in the same place, no matter how long it’s been, good times always ensue.
That’s why you remain my favorite of all the laws. Now and forever.