I was born an indiscriminate beer drinker. Recently, however, I've started to get into wine. And that's only because my friends now have real jobs. They've stopped asking, "Want me to leave room for cream?" and started asking truly scary things like, "Were you thinking fixed or adjustable rate?"
The combination of getting older and not being devastatingly broke has turned them into alcohol snobs. Sure, they'll occasionally drink a cold can of Pabst. "Ahhh..." they'll say, swallowing quickly to protect their taste buds (which are now apparently precious and vulnerable, like a freshly liposucked news anchor within reach of buffalo wings). "Here's to slumming."
Really, my friends' newfound love for wine is nothing more than clever packaging. If a 30-something man drinks a six-pack of PBR on a Saturday night, his girlfriend will scatter Alcoholics Anonymous brochures around their condo. If he downs a bottle of Pinot Noir on a Monday afternoon, she'll say, "We should totally go wine tasting in Napa."
There are advantages to being a newborn wino. One of them is the ability to genuinely enjoy Two Buck Chuck. On the evolutionary chain of wine drinkers, I'm the missing link between Boone's Farm and Chablis in a box.
In an especially frisky moment at Trader Joe's recently, I picked up two bottles of Chuck. I fondled them, looked at the sticker price and felt a deep wave of contentment.
"Oh, Troy. You're not buying Two Buck Chuck, are you?" said a voice. I turned to realize it was a gal I'd met at Landlord Jim's. She had been playing pool, and I was slurping a pint of beer and realizing the world was a better, less wobbly place when you shut one eye.
"What?" I stammered, immediately shamed.
"That's OK. That's what first got me into wine, too," she smiled.
I silently wished hair lips on her future children.
The following week, I was at a downtown wine bar with my snobby friends. The owner was sharing a 10-year-old cabernet from his personal collection. He stuck his nose inside the glass and breathed deeply, like a romantic ass-man who's been given one free shot at J.Lo's underside.
"What's the story with Two Buck Chuck?" I asked him. He pulled his nose from the glass as if someone nearby had broken wind.
"Basically, he found all these grapes that no one wanted," he explained with a sigh. "The owners wanted $10 a ton, and he said, "Call me when you want $1.' And they eventually did call him."
Realizing he'd just rained on my wine parade, he softened his stance, adding, "But I think it's great. It gets people into wine-into the tradition of it. Then, once they realize they like wine but they've been drinking dog shit for a year, they come to my bar."
All of this is exactly how I feel about Common Sense. For those who are unfamiliar, Common Sense is a self-proclaimed "surf groove band" that had a radio hit in the '90s called "Never Give Up." They're still intensely popular, especially among Southern California girls who have, at some point in their lives, memorized the entire Greek alphabet.
They are the worst band in the world. And I am an ugly, pretentious person for saying so.
Like Two Buck Chuck, Common Sense is just good enough to be liked by mass quantities of people who don't know any better. Talk about the band with a record-store clerk and he'll mutter vague, mean things about the lack of fluoride in the municipal water system.
First of all, the lead singer is a hunk. A professional skim boarder, he wears wife-beaters that showcase his gymtastic body. On stage, he doesn't groove to his own music-rather, he appears to do a series of flexing moves designed to make lesser women ovulate.
He is also incapable of wearing his baseball cap correctly. It is always either worn backwards or in some state of askew atop his head.
Then, of course, there's the whole thing about a white dude from Cali using words like "riddum" and "inna." The music itself is to reggae what anything by Kenny G is to jazz.
I could go on. But as a recent victim of snobbery, I realize I'm just a bitter prick who's unable to comprehend this band's contribution to music. My future children will undoubtedly be born with web feet because of this fact.
Like Two Buck Chuck and weed, Common Sense is a gateway band. If this whole evolution thing really works, their fans will eventually find their way to Burning Spear's album, Marcus Garvey. At the very least, Common Sense gets mass quantities of people excited about music. They help pretty girls get so lost in the moment that they don't mind that sweat-real sweat-has begun to pool in their supple armpits.
They also help men with tribal tattoos get handjobs.
More importantly, it is completely fine if the aforementioned bro Nick Hernandez is your personal Bob Dylan. If his music makes you smile and dance and forget about your genital herpes for hours at a time, then it's something good in this world.
Stand strong. Don't let snobs convince you you've been listening to dog shit for years.
I'm off to buy some Two Buck Chuck.Common Sense plays at the Belly Up Tavern, 9 p.m. on Feb. 4. $12. 619-220-8497.