Recently, I drifted into a cigar and beer and wine bar to treat myself to a stogie and a brew. This particular establishment is known for its extensive draft microbrew selection and a palatial walk-in humidor that would make most cigar aficionados drool.
As usual, I was looking for something under 20 bucks. Aside from the fact that $20 is all I care to invest in something I'm going to set on fire and reduce to a small pile of ash, the truth is, I really can't tell the difference between a $20 and a $100 cigar. I just don't have the palate for it, so I don't spend more than $20, which, I guess, makes me a cigar aficio-nada.
As I was perusing the options, a man—whom I presumed to be the manager—stepped in and asked if he could help. I told him I was looking for something strong and robust, something to burst the capillaries in my eyeballs and make my kidneys cry: a real rotgut blend.
He started showing these $50 and $60 smokes (his idea of rotgut, I suppose), and I pretended to be interested in them, but after several minutes of this, I mustered the courage to say that I wanted something under $20, thus exposing my cheapness and lack of sophistication.
The man rolled his eyes, retrieved a $15 cigar and led me to the bar, where the register was located.
“I'd like a beer, as well,” I told him. “Do you have Miller Lite on tap?”
“No!” he spat, giving the same disgusted look as when we were in the Taj Ma-humidor. “We only have it in a bottle.”
“Do you have anything light on tap?”
Again he gave a face, the kind of face that launched a million duels. “You should try a Stella or Blue Moon?”
“I meant ‘light,' as in, low calories. You know, Coors Light, Bud Light—got anything like that?”
“Light beer ain't beer,” he snarled.
“Whatever,” I said, with a little attitude of my own, “I'll just take a bottle of Miller Lite.”
He grabbed a beer from the cooler, set it on the bar and proceeded to deliver a little sermon for my benefit: “You know, you really should broaden your horizons. Just because Miller spends millions of dollars convincing you to drink it doesn't mean you have to,” he said, pointing to the array of microbrew tap handles pinned to the back wall of the bar.
“Thanks for the advice,” I said and left the bar area to find a table to drink and smoke off the rancor that swelled inside me.
I hate snobs. OK, I really shouldn't say “hate,” since half of my friends are beer snobs (the other half are pot snobs), but it's something that really twists my testes when people give me a hard time for the type of beer I drink. I'm not talking about good-natured smack talk between friends; rather, it's the sort of smug, superiority-drenched dismissal I'd just received from this arrogant, snotlicking walrus fucker. Had I been in an ever-so-slightly more surly mood, I would certainly have given him a little what-for.
Instead, I sat at my table, drinking, smoking and stewing because I did not say what should have been said, and what should have been said was, “Who died and made you a dick!?” I should have taken a long, big hit from the beer, slammed it on the bar and hollered, so that every beer snob in the place could hear: “For your information, Pal, I have tried all your immaculate microbrews, have pretty much tasted every single one of the 25 beers you have on tap, and they all suck!”
I remember when I first became aware of the micro-brouhaha that swept Southern California in the early '90s. All the bars began carrying these strange and heady beers like Red Hook, Stone, Newcastle, Yellow Tail, Full Sail, etc. I tried them all but never quite developed a tongue. Not for a single one. I just don't care for beers with a lot of body.
I don't know why—I didn't plan it. I didn't choose to not like microbrews any more than I didn't choose to not be queer, or not like string beans, or industrial polka-core music. I don't like heavy beers, and no amount of “living a little” is going to change that.
And who are you kidding, Mr. Bartender, when you say I'm the one who drinks what I'm told to drink? Don't forget that the cool, suave, hip thing to do these days is to drink microbrews and that it's inelegant slobs like me who drink the Buds and the Coors and the Millers. If anyone is following a trend, it's you. Isn't that why your bar only sells micros? To cater to a cool, hip clientele? To be cool and hip. Your bar is too snooty to serve Miller Lite on tap, and that's just fine. It's your bar; serve what you want. How about that? You sell and drink what pleases you, and I'll buy and drink what pleases me. What a concept!
Because no matter how many times you or some other self-superior beer snob tell me I should be drinking “a real beer,” remember this: I will never order an Attila the Honey brown ale when there's a cold light one in the house. I will never spend $60 on a cigar. I will never spend $10 for a shot of Grey Goose when Relska is in the well. I will never stop smoking schwag weed, or watching Cameron Crowe movies, or listening to Styx, or reading Stephen King. I will never stop doing any of these so-called uncool, unhip activities because the uncoolest, unhippest thing a person could ever do is not drink, smoke, listen to or enjoy something because you told them not to.
Write to email@example.com and the editor (and notorious beer snob) at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more what for, visit www.edwindecker.com.
Would you like your online comment to be considered for publication in our print edition? Include your true full name and neighborhood of residence.