Posted January 25, 2007 10:25 am - Updated January 25, 2007 10:28 am

Beer and Birth Control in a Handbasket

I was going to blog about something completely different today. But then I saw the blog headline of one of my esteemed colleagues. It made me think of something I do each and every Sunday here in Bucharest, without fail. I buy beer. Every week, in this conservative, Orthodox city. A city where men are men and women hang out in the park with their babies. A city where Communism was one of the main features mere decades ago. Yet, as long as you can find it on the shelves, you can buy beer here every day of the week. It's a glorious thing. Know what else? You can buy birth control pills here too, for $2 U.S. Without health insurance. Without a prescription. Imagine that--a woman knowing she needs birth control without being told by a doctor. Maybe Romanian women are simply smarter than American women. Maybe Romanians are smarter in general. There are some pretty hellacious pits in the sidewalks and open lots around here, yet no one falls in them. No one injures themselves with coffee (cough-Stella-hem). The children aren't dying left and right on the playgrounds because there are high surfaces to fall from. Romanians know to look the heck out for themselves. They know that if you're in the street, that means you could get run over by a vehicle. They know that being on the sidewalk pretty much means the same thing. They know that dogs sometimes bite and that nails sometimes fall out of the sky around construction sites. They know to look up occasionally and move fast. They know that "almost got hit" doesn't count, and that floors are sometimes slippery, whether someone put up a sign that says so or not. And they know that drinking beer every day of the week is their God-given right.