Baltimore shot etiquette
Owl Meat Gravy starts this guest post with a confession that could get him in lots of trouble. And for the record, I've always been curious about this shot-taking tradition myself:
First let me say that I'm not from here, even though I have lived here quite a while on and off. I don't like steamed crabs (yeah, yeah, yeah) or Natty Bo.
In my defense, I did drink National Premium when I was in college here (once). Does that count? No? OK.
After college and graduate school, I figured that all the ways that made me superficially different from Baltimore people were exposed. Wrong 'em, boyo.
In the past couple of years, I've gotten to know a lot of people who grew up in Baltimore. Being a thirsty creature of the night, I know them from local watering holes.
I recently noticed something that may have been there all the time, but eluded my occasionally blurry vision. Put simply: I have a problem and need help.
Shots! Shots! Shots! Wanna do a shot? Uh, OK. It seems rude to answer otherwise and if I say "no" then the question of my man-parts is on the table. Ugh, I'm too old for this. Nah. So lately I've noticed that everybody clinks glasses, then taps them on the bar, and then drinks. It freaks me out ...
I've been clinking glasses my whole life here and in other parts of the world. Why is this local custom suddenly flippin' my wig? Is it a local custom? Just a Little Italy thing? That seems unlikely. Is it new? I'm lost. Here's what I'm comfortable with – clink clink clink, drink.
When you raise your glass with your friends and clink glasses it implies a (momentary) bond of good will. Here's to you. And you and you and you. Oh hell, I just had a weird flashback to the Sound of Music. I have no problem rolling with the local custom, but this seems new to me. Clink to your momentary bestest friend and then bang it on the bar before drinking? It seems dirty to me, like the bond has been broken.
So does anyone have an explanation? Is it new, really local, or have I been oblivious to local customs for the past 20 years?
Does it have some significance, like here's to the guy that built the bar? Or to remove demons? I'm clueless. I'll buy a shot for anyone with a reasonable explanation. Really.