Are You Exercising Proper Flask Etiquette?

In a July 1927 issue of “Life Magazine” was a stand alone comic titled, “The Old Hip Flask.” Under the picture of two young guys saying good-bye at an ocean liner port was the caption, “Say, Bill, will you take care of this while I am away?”

Obviously, the flask has been a coveted item for generations and there are a certain set of mysterious rules that accompany it. For example, if you leave the area by boat, you should probably put your dearest friend in charge of your flask. The custom of having someone watch over your flask when you are on vacation may surprise you, but it is only one of many funny points of etiquette throughout 700 years of history that center upon this common item.

Modern advice: Do not be the butt of a hip flask joke

Mel Greene does an excellent job of informing us how to do the wrong thing socially and become the object of, “The Greatest Joke Book Ever.” For instance, Greene details the roadway collision of a doctor and a lawyer. Clearly, the doctor was traumatized by the event and so the lawyer offers him a sip from his hip flask. The doctor was expecting the lawyer to also take a drink and inquired why he was not doing so. The lawyer replies, “I’ll take a drink after the police show up.” While it is definitely a humorous joke, the rules to learn here have not changed throughout time. Obviously, your hip flask is great, but it can get you in trouble with the law. Interestingly, history tells us it can pretty much solve any other kind of problem.

Etiquette for being the only one with a flask

Recounted in, “They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They,” by humorist Patrick F. McManus, is a tale of that awkward moment where you realize you are the only one with a flask. However, we soon learn that this is no reason to worry about having bad manners — because your life just got easier. Mainly, McManus teaches us the unspoken rules of hip flasks. This includes the times that your friends forget their liquor when you go camping and you threaten to withhold sips from the flask you remembered to take. In particular, McManus says, “They immediately acquiesced to the old military principle that he who has remembered his hip flask gets to command.” Naturally, throughout this 1970s weekend, McManus manages to produce an over-abundance of sips in return for favors. This led to one of his friends saying that he was going to get a hip flask just like McManus’ and asks, “Where do you get a two-quart hip flask anyway?”

Hip flasks a Tea Dance must

Business tycoon and horse breeder EP Taylor settled down to dictate his biography in 1977. In it, he discusses his wild days at Canada’s McGill University in the early 1920s. In those times, he was a young college man of high fashion and was sure to hold to social standards in every way. As he did later in life with business, the young Taylor paid attention to detail. For instance, Taylor says, “We used to have tea dances in those days, and it was the day of the hip flasks, too. You weren’t socially acceptable unless you had a hip flask when you went to a party.” In the end, we learn that there will always be oddball situations (such as tea dances) and we should always remember to keep a spare flask in our cars. If we do not remember this principle, we will become social outcasts.

Hip flask Etiquette After Beating Enemies

It might surprise you to know that flasks were once used to diffuse a social faux pas during the Middle Ages. Alas, in the pages of Shakespeare’s “Othello” is a description of the scene between Gratiano and Cassio. In the observations of author Virginia Mason Vaughan, “Drink as a form of bonding and succor returns when Gratiano offers his hip flask to the wounded Cassio. Drink thus becomes a sign of intimacy and temporary equality. The sharing of a flask provides comfort and communion between one soldier and another.” Obviously, this proves that you should always use good sportsmanship and remember to offer the other side a sip from your flask after you beat them down.

Hip Flask Social Advice from the 1300s

The “Canterbury Tales” was a story written about storytelling in 14th Century England. Among the various depictions is a one centered upon the awkwardness of telling an offensive joke. Needless to say, we soon learn that the proper way to get out of the difficult situation of talking too much and saying the wrong thing is to use a flask. In this case, getting the cook drunk will amuse the host and forgive any previous social transgressions. Altogether, it is difficult to find a set of rules or regulations written by Ann Landers about the proper art of flask usage — but the pages of history let us know that a flask is almost always the cure to any social ills.