My Drinking Problem

Brief Encounters, Tales of Everyday Life: Sep. 2012

It’s just not on that the smallest bottle of vodka sold in my local supermarket is an oppressive 70cl. Also irresponsible is that bars serve large chocolate milkshakes to customers in 43 degree heat. Both end in tears.

My experience with drinking in Vienna is tragic enough to have you reaching for the bottle. And I can’t even do that right.

Waiting for Bon Iver to come on stage at Arena, I got thirsty. I made my way to the bar, five euros (I am on a budget and had already eaten that day) and a grossly inflated belief in my language abilities in hand.

A large glass of wine – €2,80-. Cracking. I ordered auf Deutsch and awaited the (fermented) fruits of my linguistic labours. Yet my manically self-congratulatory leer was met with narrowed eyes. “A large glass?”

“Of your finest, sir,” I thought. “Feminism has happened, and I will drink what I wish and I’ll be pleased if you’ll wipe that patronising smirk off your face!”

What I actually said was, “Yes please.”

And so it arrived: One pint, of house red, in a plastic cup. I argued, of course I argued, but the bartender had apparently just eaten a large slice of I-told-you-so cake, and was now gleefully and relentlessly spewing it in my face.

Financial liquidity in a cup, I thought. A pint of wine has to be at least €12. I guess it’s gruel for dinner this week.

“Six euros, please.”

“Like, six-teen euros?” He shook his head. “Six-ty?” My heart sank.

Nein! Six euros!” I smiled and thanked him, drinking a secret toast to the wisdom of the Austrians.

– Kate Abnett

“Brief Encounters” are readers’ narrations of the funny, surreal and bizarre of everyday life in Vienna. 

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