What do Lysol and Listerine have in common? They both start with "L", right, but not what I'm looking for. Actually, they both contain a fair amount of alcohol and can apparently "do the trick" if you're really in need of a buzz.
On our third or fourth day in Bethel, I was at the store looking for lysol and I couldn't find it anywhere. On my way through the check out line, however, I noticed that all the Lysol was stacked on a shelf behind the counter being guarded by the cashier. I asked the cashier, "Why is the Lysol behind the counter with the Listerine?" He looked up at me with an amused smile and said, "You're new here, aren't you?" With a chuckle I replied that, yes, I had only been in town a couple of days. He proceeded then to explain to me that these items were high theft items. I was surprised. "Why would Lysol and Listerine be high theft items?" I ask. (I have a picture in my head now of people stealing Lysol and running home and secretly disinfecting their houses.) The cashier explained to me that these items have alcohol in them and people steal them to drink them when they run out of booze. They call it booze here alot. Cooking wine is also kept behind the counter, but it is in pretty limited supply.
Bethel is a "damp" community. This means that it is illegal to buy or sell alcohol, but legal to drink it and possess it. All of the surrounding villages are completely dry. There is an alarmingly high rate of alcoholism here, even with the laws. For me it means that if I want to buy alcohol, I have to order it from Anchorage or somewhere and have it shipped or I can bring it home with me if I happen to be somewhere to buy it. There are also regulations on how much you can bring in, but I'm not sure of those details yet. I have signed up for a wine club so that I can at least keep a couple of bottles of wine on hand. I brought a bottle of Absolute with me on the barge, but it is almost gone now.
This also means that if you are feeling especially nice or needing to do a good deed for the day/week/month, you can send me a bottle of any kind of alcoholic beverage and it would be much appreciated. Just make sure you send it UPS...it is illegal to send alcohol through the United States Postal Service. Who knew? I would never have known that if I didnt come here...the things I've learned...character building life lessons here folks.