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The Canada Quarter of Whiskeytown

April 13, 2014

I noticed something the other day at the liquor store. Just last month I was telling you about my foolish days of youth, my Canadian-Mist-drinking days. I took it as a given that drinking such a thing was a sure sign the days were foolish, that the whiskey was a punchline. But at the liquor store I saw that they had a whole section devoted to Canadian whiskey. And not just a few feet. It was huge. To the naked eye the rows appeared to go off to infinity. Seeing this, I realized three things:

1) Somebody is drinking Canadian whiskey.
2) I have no idea who the are.
3) I am a stranger in this world.

Ever since then I have been wondering about these drinkers of Canadian whiskey. I do not suppose I will ever know who they are. Having gone undetected for so long already, they must be masters of camouflage and mimicry, blandly hiding in plain sight, just like the makers of their whiskey. They might might even be Canadians, dwelling among us in undetected, undocumented, inconspicuous hordes. They might be black, put off by the cracker mythology of bourbon, turning to the north for an alternative, just as their ancestors might have done, or dreamed of doing. They might be white, tempted by that special Canadian white-bread mystique, that pale WASPy niceness. Maybe Buddhists with a penchant for the understated simplicity of Canadian branding. They could be anyone, of any color or creed or nation, who just wants to get drunk while also hating America, hating the Scots and Irish too. Or it could be that they just like it. Maybe they drink Canadian because they like it, and there is nothing more to it; just a taste, not a type.

But I will never know. The world is a stranger in my mind. Maybe when I sleep, and dream, maybe then I will find them. I have lived here in Charlottesville many years. As long as I lived in Charlottesville I have dreamed of Charlottesville, dreamed its shadow, a far richer place than the one the common sun shines down on. At any time I might discover an entirely new neighborhood there, some charming spot or exotic sight, a fantastic ice cream parlour, a market bazaar or subterranean aquarium. I have explored so much of it, again and again returned, but there is always more to find. It could be there, the place I will find my answers, the Canada Quarter of Whiskeytown. I could find it in my sleep. Walk through the gates, see who is there, sit down with them, share a few drinks and learn their ways. I am sure I will be welcome. Until I suddenly find myself in a wood next to an aerodrome with my high school geometry teacher, being attacked by weasels under an alien sun.

Remember, in the eyes of the Lord we are all equally drunk.

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