The Liquor Aisle Fiasco

I was going to post something about how I went to purchase some wine the other day at the supermarket and the cashier asked if I was drunk, but I’m really not up to that right now. I feel so angry and shaken up about the incident that I’ve decided to post a few unrelated photographs instead.

You see, the whole thing was a misunderstanding. I wasn’t drunk. (Oh, yeah, the picture above was taken at the historic homestead of John Logan Campbell, a Scottish adventurer who outlived all his contemporaries with his flowing white locks and beard known finally as “The Father of Auckland,” according to the Auckland Parks Website, which does not make it clear if it was the man’s beard and white locks that were known as the “Father of Auckland,” or if it was the man himself, nor does it explain how his white locks and beard helped him outlive all his contemporaries, but therein lay his tremendous prestige and courage. Note the original Christmas tree, preserved in the condition it was in the day John Logan Campbell fell off his ladder while trying to place the Star of Bethlehem high above his head on top of it (the tree, that is, not his head)) At least I don’t remember being drunk.

What happened was this: early last Saturday afternoon, I had to do some shopping. I’d been writing all day, which I do not deny always makes me appear drunk to other people, as I usually imbibe in two or three glasses of whatever’s at hand while I’m working. But no more than that. I mean, let’s be reasonable, it wasn’t even 2 p.m. by the time I left the house to go to the supermarket in my more or less sober state.

I put a few of the day’s necessities in my cart, including a loaf of bread, a bottle of club soda, a roll of toilet paper and 12 bottles of chardonnay. (The above was the first piece of graffiti to appear on an Auckland wall since the time of John Logan Campbell, who died in 1912. His Worship the Mayor John Banks has promised to nip this graffiti epidemic in the bud. It’s curious to note that the above image is based on the last night in the life of John Logan Campbell, who died in a tragic accident while attempting to place the Star of Bethlehem on top of his Christmas tree after drinking one too many bottles from his wife’s back-woods still, uttering his famous last-words, “Merry F!#k?*g Xmas” as he fell to his doom.  The graffitist here has paid especially loving attention to the accurate depiction of John Logan Cambell’s flowing white locks and beard, the Father of Auckland). My shopping complete, I pushed my heavily laden cart of daily necessities toward the cashiers.

The express line was very long and everyone was growing impatient.

Except for me. I’m always happy to stand anywhere for hours on end doing absolutely nothing. (A poster advertising a costume shop for people who like to dress up for Guy Fawkes Day, named for one of the mercenaries in a failed attempt to kill King James I and install a Catholic king in 1605. As the poster indicates, New Zealanders love to dress up as John Logan Campbell in the various stages of his multifaceted career. Campbell was, in turn, a roller skating disco clown, Superman, the fourth member of ZZ Top, a rabbi and a pre-teen girl in a cat costume.)

When it was finally my turn at the register, the cashier looked at me strangely. (Above: Agapanthus flowers on the pathway leading to our flat, planted by John Logan Campbell.)

“Have you been drinking?” the cashier said.

I was displeased by her question. Who was she to presume I’d been drinking? (I can’t believe people live in this building designed by John Logan Campbell in 1911).

“No, I haven’t been drinking,” I insisted.

I made sure she understood how peeved I was by her question. I rolled my eyes and clucked my tongue three times (The first time because I was angry and the second two times to emphasize my anger, sort of like the way I put three exclamation points at the end of a sentence to make sure everyone knows that I really really mean what I’m saying!!!) (Above: the Parnell Library, designed, constructed and financed by John Logan Campbell, who not only donated the entire volume of 16,000 books, but wrote every single one of them as well. In long hand!!!)

“OK, OK,” the cashier said. “I was just asking.”

(Or did she say, “I was just joking?” I don’t know. I was a little drunk.)

“You want me to recite the alphabet backwards now too?” I said. (The Shangri La flats).

“No, that really isn’t necessary,” the cashier said.

“No, it’s my pleasure,” I said. (Malibu Flats)

So I started to recite the alphabet backwards. “Z, Y, X, W, S, no wait…”

The person behind me said, “No, listen: it’s Z, Y, X, W, V, U, T, S, R, P…”

“No, no, that isn’t it,” somebody else said. “Does anyone have a piece of paper?”

Pretty soon, there were four or five of us gathered around the cash register trying to figure out how to recite the alphabet backwards. It took us about five minutes, but we got it down pat eventually, which just goes to show you there’s nothing you can’t do if your name is John Logan Campbell.


  1. I feel like I’ve just been rushed through the set of a Woody Allen movie. I’m exhausted. I need to sit down and have a glass of wine….”clink”

      1. Perhaps I might move to Australia then. How much do they pay for one to become a breathalyzer? What is the pay scale? Benefits? Retirement?

  2. I wouldn’t know about the pay scale and benefits for a job in Australia, living in New Zealand myself. Not exactly the same. But at least you got the right planet.

  3. And if you spell “stressed” backwards, you get “desserts”. Hey barkeep— hold the chardonnay and send out the cannolis.

  4. Yes and if you spell radar backwards you get radar. Fascinating how meaningless word games now fill my head where once there was hair.

  5. So, in a country of drunks, they thought you were drunk. And don’t say it is not a country of drunks. it is populated by those of Celtish descent and I know Celts, they drink. That’s like getting flagged on Route 9 (anywhere bar on route 9 will do) New Jersey and being told you’re too drunk to drink. that is hilarious. Have you shaved? Maybe that’s it. Kiwis have a desire to shave everything, the sheep really don’t even need it but once they started the Kiwis couldn’t stop. Sometimes I heard the go over to Australia and shave the spiders.

    Im about to shave my cat. Bastard!

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