One of the things that has really stood out to me in Aberdeen is the casual attitude locals have about alcohol. Open displays and the unsightly effects of public drunkeness are extremely common. I remember one night back in October getting a ride home from a friend's house and passing a couple just leaving the pub around the corner from our house. The woman was so drunk she could barely walk, and the man, who was also clearly drunk, was trying to help her walk. I suddenly understood in a whole new way the concept of the blind leading the blind. It is not unusual to walk into town on a Saturday morning and see people already in the pubs and bars at 10 o'clock. This has been particularly surprising for me having grown up in an area of the country where you can't even buy a bottle of wine in the grocery store.
One of my friends here works in alcohol education for young people. I was talking with her about it the other day and her simple explanation made complete sense. This is a drinking culture. From the time children are very young it is made part of their lives. In fact, it is currently legal to serve alcohol to a child from the age of 5 in the privacy of a personal residence as long as an adult is present. When it comes to alcohol, people maintain a "live and let live" attitude. Do what you want. It's your life. My friend also told me that there is a significant problem with weekend drinking among "baby boomers". They tend to have a lot of disposable income, children gone from the home, and parents not old enough to need full-time care. Their lives are relatively carefree. I was intrigued by this since the neighbors on both sides of us have already approached us with sheepish apologies "about the noise we were making the other night". Thankfully, our walls are thick and I heard nothing, but their explanation was, "I got a little drunk last night." These are people my parents' age or slightly younger. I shake my head in wonder.
While I am no fan of prohibition, I certainly suspect that the temperance movement has had a leavening influence in our culture and I have to wonder if we wouldn't be dealing with a far more serious drinking problem otherwise.