Will someone please explain to me why my corner store can sell wine after 11 o'clock on Sunday morning but not at, say, 10:45 a.m.?
Is that to make sure everybody goes to church before getting rip-roaring drunk?
No, that can't be it, because you can buy 30 cases of beer from that same store at 10:45.
Apparently, the beer industry has better lobbyists.
The wine people have made some progress, though. Before October, stores and restaurants that now can sell wine at 11 a.m. couldn't sell wine before 1 p.m.
Clearly, that is because churchgoers suddenly started flocking to earlier services.
All of this madness stems from the so-called ''blue laws'' of days gone by, when stores of almost every kind were prohibited from doing business on the Sabbath.
But in an era when you can buy almost anything else at every hour of every day — Walmart alone runs nine 24-hour stores within 25 miles of Akron — aren't Sunday booze prohibitions pretty silly?
The American issue with Sundays dates back to roughly 1650, when the newly arriving Puritans took to heart the biblical prohibition against Sunday labor and dictated exactly what activities were permissible — in those days, virtually nothing.
Legend has it the term ''blue laws'' came from the fact that those early rules were published on blue paper or in books with blue covers. Or maybe it came from the fact that the people pushing the restrictions were so restricted themselves that they were in danger of turning blue.
In any event, you might be surprised at how recently such prohibitions were vigorously enforced right here.
On a Sunday morning in August of 1965, the Fairlawn Police Department swooped down on a discount store at Fairlawn Shopping Center called Giant Tiger. Eight employees, ranging in age from 19 to 43, were arrested. The charge: ''Engaging in common labor on Sunday.''
Fairlawn had an ordinance that required all businesses to close on Sunday except gas stations and other travel-related firms, restaurants, recreational facilities and ''operations of public necessity.''
A Beacon Journal story at the time said that ''laws against Sunday sales in Ohio generally have been upheld by the courts, but enforcement has been spotty and there has been no statewide policy.''
Fairlawn seemed to be having no second thoughts. Police Chief Arthur Swigert declared, ''This ordinance will be strictly enforced because the people do not want Sunday sales in this village.''
Well, maybe. A bit of selective enforcement was under way. Prodded by local merchants, the authorities focused only on Giant Tiger, a new store that was part of a chain based in Cleveland. Once the cases finally wound their
way to an objective court, they were thrown out.
But things got pretty ugly for a while.
The drill was repeated every Sunday. After three weeks, 26 people had been arrested. By early October, the total had reached 56.
Some of the arrests actually were initiated by Giant Tiger employees who would shop at other stores selling similar items and then swear out affidavits. Giant Tiger employees even went after the construction workers who were putting the finishing touches on Summit Mall.
Fairlawn eventually threw in the towel.
The state stopped its total ban on Sunday liquor sales in 1974, but created a special license category. And today we have no fewer than 54 different classifications of liquor licenses.
If you don't think it has entered the realm of the absurd, check out the ''D5K'' license, which permits the sale of ''beer and intoxicating liquor . . . to certain nonprofit organizations that own and operate a botanical garden.''
The last of Ohio's nonalcohol blue laws stood all the way until 1998, when the legislature finally eliminated a ban on Sunday hunting.
A select few businesses — notably the entire 1,400-location Chick-fil-A restaurant chain — still go dark once a week on principle.
It would be nice to have a communal day of rest, when all of us could kick back, reflect and rejuvenate. But that horse left the barn so long ago that the barn has been knocked down and replaced by a housing development.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.