I’m a question asker. I like explanations, stories, and answers. I like knowing things. Sometimes, though, as hard as I try, I just don’t get it. I don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense. So, at the risk of being labeled dumb or un-American, I have to ask. Could someone please explain to me why Americans everywhere seem to love beer, chicken wings, seafood and Dunkin Donuts coffee? Where’s the logic? Sound judgment? Good taste? Could someone please explain the inexplicable?
Beer. According to www.didyouknow.org, there are over 20,000 types of beer. Beer is wheat, barley, water, hops and yeast. Really? Are there that many ways to combine five ingredients? Or are they still trying to discover a recipe that will actually make beer semi-palatable? It hasn’t worked since 4300 B.C. when people first started making beer. Who knew people were such optimists? And who would put this weird concoction in a glass and think, “Mmmm, yummy”? Chocolate and peanut butter combined – that’s “Mmmm, yummy.” Mint and chocolate? Also an excellent combination. Even chocolate potato chips leave a pleasant aftertaste. Beer, on the other hand, does not. It doesn’t taste good going down and coming back up is even worse. It’s an ugly shade of urine, fizzy, thin and bitter, and, when you drink it, it gives you gas and makes you thirsty. Of course, that might be the pretzels and peanuts they leave on the bar to take away the taste of the beer, but I’m not sure. A little chocolate might improve the taste of beer, but a lot of chocolate to drown out the taste of the beer altogether would be even better.
Chicken Wings – I’m sorry, but I don’t see gristle, bone, skin and liquid inferno anywhere in the food pyramid. Eating a chicken wing is a lot like gnawing on your own finger after dipping it in hot sauce. Actually, I think most of us have more meat on our fingers than a chicken has on its wing. There’s a reason chickens can’t fly. You want to know what’s in a chicken’s wing about as much as you want to know what’s in a hot dog. And, after all the work of eating that giant .05 oz. hunk of chicken, your rewards are heartburn, burning lips and burnt off taste buds. I’ll just take a bag of flaming marshmallows instead. Preferably squished between two graham crackers and a melted Hershey bar. At least I won’t be hungry again in an hour.
Lobster, shrimp, clams, and pretty much everything that swims, crawls or squirms in the water. My lack of love for sea creatures might be my innate aversion to my food looking at me, of course. I have to admit I’m a big fan of cutting the heads off the things I’m going to put in my mouth before they’re plopped onto my dinner plate. Do you want Elsie the cow looking at you while you’re eating her? Didn’t think so. And totally aside from the death stare factor; do you know what these things are doing in the water every minute of every day? That’s right. Now imagine eating your Cocoa Krispies right out of your toilet bowl. Same thing.
Dunkin Donuts coffee. Of the four, the love of this brew might be the most bewildering. Don’t get me wrong. I love Rachel Ray and the smell of freshly fried beer ingredients, especially the chocolate ones. I’m even fond of pink and orange as a color combination. And I especially love the customer placing his order to the trash can in their commercial. But what I can’t understand is why people love the utter lack of fresh taste. Or even coffee taste. My DD coffee tastes like scorched bean, bitter swill, overly sweet burnt or a combination thereof. But they are consistent. No matter which of the 47 franchises within a 35 mile radius I buy it from, it always tastes bad. You’ll be surprised, I know, but I do like their hot chocolate. Once a week, I treat myself to a little entertainment at one of the local drive ups. Last week’s conversation:
Dunkin Donuts Worker: “Wait one minute.”
DDW: “Welcome to Dunkin Donuts. What can I get you?”
Me: “A small hot chocolate, please.”
DDW: “With or without whipped cream?”
Me: “No whipped cream.” (Because “with” and “without” sound too much alike.)
DDW: “Oh, wait. You can’t have a hot chocolate.”
Me: “I can’t? Why not?” (A list of recently committed sins ran through my head. Who told?)
DDW: “Our machine is down.”
Me: “Oh” (Not my sins then. What a relief.)
Me: “Well, what else do you have?” (Sometimes I have to make my own entertainment.)
DDW: “We have coffee.”
Me: “Nah, I hate your coffee.”
DDW: “Oh.” Long pause. “We have Chai.”
Me: “Ok, a small vanilla chai.” (Not chocolate, but I’m willing to be flexible sometimes.)
DDW: “We don’t have smalls; we only have mediums.”
Me: “You ran out of small cups?”
DDW: “No, we only sell medium chais.”
Me: “But you do have small cups?”
Me: “Well, can you put it in a small cup?” (Even when asking questions, I try to be helpful.)
DDW: “Sure, but….”
Both of us: “I’ll have to charge you for the medium.”
DDW (Making an executive decision): “Never mind, I’ll ‘hook you up.’ C’mon up.”
So I drive up without hitting anything, and we make our exchange without dropping or spilling.
Me: “So, is your machine broken?”
DDW: “No, we have an inspector coming tomorrow, and we’re cleaning it. It’s been a really long time since we cleaned our machines.” (Whoops – not executive material after all.)
You would have been proud of me. I didn’t ask how long, “really long” was. Just like the ingredients in hot dogs, and what the sea life does to pass the time, there are some things about which I’d like to remain ignorant. I do think I sort of understand that abnormal affinity for beer now though – people don’t really like the taste of the brew – it’s the quest for laughter that keeps them coming back for more.