Under-Age Drinking, German Style

Regensburg – August 2007
The restaurant where we ate dinner was by the bus stops. Behind them a small triangular raised municipal garden without any plants in it.
Shortly after we sat down to eat there appeared a group of youths, maybe 15- or 16-years-old, carrying bottles of cheap wine which they slugged down quickly. Boys and girls, though it was primarily the boys doing the slugging.
One fat lad with knee-length shorts bagging around his bum finished his bottle of wine and lobbed the empty bottle into the municipal garden. And – only in Germany could this happen – one of the girls retrieved it from where it had landed and put it in the rubbish bin. The rules say we don’t litter, so we don’t litter, however dismissive of society we might be.
Baggy bum went home but the rest of the youths hung around, smoking cigarettes and lurching about, though – again very particularly German – they at one point went into the bakers and bought doughnuts. Every country has its switched-off youths who drink excessive alcohol and hang about destructively, and well-off seeming Regensburg was no exception. We wondered what will happen to these particular youths. Perhaps they’ll get a job in the BMW factory (of which there is one at Regensburg) eventually. Perhaps they become the next generation of blotchy-skinned and grimy suntanned drunks who will discourage diners from sitting down at the restaurant tables of the future (as I talk about on Drunks in Restaurants). Perhaps they’ll give up eating doughnuts. We’ll probably never know.

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