Sunday, September 14, 2008


While visiting in Utah, my family went to supper at a Mikado's Japanese Steakhouse. We sat in the back where the "traditional dining" booths were and placed our orders. The party beside us, four young women and a young man, was loud and raucous--not just verbal, but table-pounding, yukking-it-up, hollering loud. One of my sons looked over at their antics and muttered, "They're drinking Volcanoes." Sad that he even knew that, I posed no more questions and simply watched on as another round of "Volcano paraphenalia" arrived.

Essentially, the imbiber perches a shot of liquor atop his chopsticks which are precariously set above a glass of beer. By pounding on the table, the shot falls into the glass and mixes, creating a foaming, volcanic concoction which they quickly chug. Got the picture?

So each Volcano is a beer and a shot, and our lively neighbors downed at least three such sets while we sat there, growing ever more loud and disturbing with each round. Our waitress was clearly concerned about the situation as was the group's waiter, but since one young lady, the presumed designated driver, held back, the waiter continued to honor the call for successive rounds.

This group had a designated driver. Sadly, I've seen groups chugging away who did not. But even if this group did arrange a tea-totaler for the evening, is that really reason enough to serve that much alcohol to a patron in so short a time?

What if the DD had been sleepy, or gotten sick? Can we assume this inebriated group would have waited for someone else to pick them up, or is it more likely that one of them would have "stepped up" and assessing themselves as able, volunteered to drive?

I don't understand laws which allow the open sale and consumption of alcohol in locales where the patrons drive to and from. Some might call it trampling on the Bill of Rights, (which I love and honor, mind you), but personally, I'd like patrons to surrender their keys before being served, and I'd like them to be retrieved only after the patron passed some sort of breathalizer test. At the very least, why aren't we limiting the amount of alcohol a person can drink at any given establishment? Sure, they can roll on to the next place and drink more, but wouldn't an establishment's drinking limit at least serve as a deterrent to some people, reminding them that they had already consumed the prudent max?

In a world far too aware of the cost of driving under the influence, isn't it ludicrous that we serve liquor and then watch people shuffle into cars? Are we crazy?

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