As you approach the end of your final term in office, Gov. Ted Kulongoski, I would like to urge you to take an action that will make future generations bless your memory and secure your legacy as one of the great governors of Oregon history:
Fire the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Fire the whole damn agency. Fire every single one of 'em, from the commissioners themselves down to the guys who clean the lavatories. And replace them with people who, collectively, have an IQ approaching triple digits.
What brought on this tirade was an experience at a popular local restaurant yesterday evening. (I won't name it, but I can mention that it's in the Old Mill District.) My wife and I had just sat down and ordered a couple of cocktails from the friendly server - she a martini, me a gin and tonic.
The drinks arrived and the server asked us if we'd like a few minutes to look over the menu. Shortly he returned and we placed our orders. I told him I would like a glass of Syrah to go with my entree.
"I'm sorry, sir, but I can't serve you two drinks at a time," he said. "It's an OLCC rule."
My initial reaction was an increase in blood pressure to approximately 380 over 250. My next reaction was to say, rather loudly, "What???" I might have added a couple of words after "What???" for emphasis.
"I'm sorry, sir, but those are the rules," he continued. "As long as you have the gin and tonic on the table, I can't bring you the wine."
Okay, I was thinking at this point, the kid is young and probably confused. Maybe he came here recently from another state. Maybe he doesn't really know the rules. I'll check with the manager.
The manager, appearing slightly annoyed, confirmed that such was, indeed, the OLCC rule. "If that's the rule, it's a goddamned idiotic one," I gently remonstrated.
"That may be, sir, but it's the rule and we have to follow it."
Now, I have been eating and drinking in Oregon restaurants for almost 25 years and nobody, in Bend or anywhere else, has ever mentioned this insane rule, much less enforced it. You go into a place, you sit down, you order a drink to enjoy while you engage in a little conversation and peruse the menu, you order dinner and some wine, the dinner and wine arrive while what's left of the cocktail is still on the table, you eat your dinner and drink your wine and, maybe, finish the cocktail.
This does not result in any Bacchanalian orgies, people stripping naked and copulating on the tables, vomiting all over the floor and urinating in the potted plants. At least not in the places where I generally hang out.
One of the many oddities of this policy is that I could, theoretically, have as many drinks as I want as long as I had them one at a time. My wife and I could have had a magnum of champagne brought to our table and drunk it all by ourselves - the equivalent of two full bottles of wine, or about six drinks apiece - and the OLCC would be cool with that. But a G&T and a glass of wine on the table at the same time? Horrors!
The Wandering Eye has written before about the imbecilic policies of the OLCC, a Prohibition relic that evidently exists for the sole purpose of writing dumb-ass rules and enforcing them, and has called for reform of the agency.
But after last night, I have decided the OLCC is too far gone for reform. It is terminally stupid. It must be razed and rebuilt from the ground up. It must be extirpated. It must be destroyed, root and branch.
Governor Kulongoski, fire up your chainsaw.