James Lileks
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By now, the annual attempt to repeal the Sunday ban on liquor sales has become a tradition. You wish they'd make it into a fun event everyone could enjoy. On the Capitol steps two groups could engage in a tuneful back-and-forth:

Customers: "We want to buy bottles of merlot!"

Legislators: "Alas it is Sunday, so no no!"

Customers: "Not even a six-pack of Surly?"

Legislators: "Should've done it on Saturday, early!"

Customers: "But we want to buy beer that's quite hoppy!"

Legislators: "It'll hurt the stores Mommy and Poppy!"

Customers: "Can we compromise so we can both win?"

Legislators: "Sure! Take a nice drive to Wisconsin!"

Customers: "So don't drink and drive, but drive for your drink?"

Legislators: "And no shopping for cars! That's what we think."

Both sides, together, big closing number:

"Sunday, Sunday, some stuff you can do, but some stuff you can't / Sunday, Sunday, still there are wine fans who hopelessly fant / asize about buying a bottle for dinner / without the impression they're really a sinner."

Then the bill to legalize Sunday sales would be presented by the sergeant-at-arms, who would set it on fire.

Perhaps this year we'll see a compromise: Sunday sales are permitted, but stores are closed on Tuesdays, because no one can play the "Oh we're having a last-minute dinner party" card on a Tuesday unless it's 1936 and you're Noel Coward.

Or: Grocery stores can sell wine on Sunday in exchange for giving up selling milk on Saturday.

I am sympathetic to the notion of making Sunday a day of rest. When I was growing up, nothing was open on Sunday except a few restaurants and a Stop 'n' Go convenience store, and its brazen flaunting of the norms made that seem disreputable. Only harlots buy milk on Sunday, we thought.

The mall was closed, so we had no choice but to go to Embers and stare at our coffee and think, "Man, we could be looking at black-light posters at Spencer Gifts, but, no, the government says we can't."

Somehow we occupied ourselves, and when the world opened up again on Monday, it gave the day a sense of newness and purpose.

But that horse has left the barn, run to the next county, died of old age and was sold for glue. Plus, the barn fell down and was replaced by a 24-hour gas station that sells that new scratch-card game, "Close the Barn Door!" Sunday will never be a day of rest again.

Officially, at least. Personally, it's up to you.

Same goes for the Mom-and-Pop stores that don't want to open on Sunday. So don't! But somehow, my local hardware store is open Sunday, competing with the big box joint. Why would I pay 35 cents more for a light bulb? Because I want them to succeed. And they have popcorn. And I can bring my dog.

Just wait until the 2020 session for the debate about letting drones deliver spirits. They'll have to take off by 11:59 p.m. Saturday, or the stores — by then open on Sunday and doing fine — will kick up such a fuss.

james.lileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 • Twitter: @Lileks • facebook.com/james.lileks