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August 8, 1996

Acquired Tastes
Copyright 1996 - Greg Bulmash - All Rights Reserved

I like beer. I like it very much. I've even been to the Guinness web-site and scored pretty well on their brewing simulation. But when I was a little kid, I hated beer. My father liked it and I'd always ask him how he could stand it. He'd always reply, "it's an acquired taste." I didn't acquire mine until I got to college and joined a fraternity.

When you join a fraternity, drinking beer is required. If you drink wine or wine coolers, you ought to join a sorority... which isn't a bad proposition, but generally only happens in movies they show late at night on cable, and according to those movies, usually requires dressing up in women's clothing. So I stuck with the fraternity thing, drank beer, and found out what "acquired taste" means. It's like banging your head against a wall. The more your head hits that wall, the less you feel it.

In the beginning, all that was important was that the beer was cheap and it would get me drunk. This was the period in my life when I shotgunned and beer-bonged, played drinking games like "Quarters" and "Up And Down The River," and taste was the last thing I cared about. My main goal was to drink as much Meister Brau, Mickey's, or Lucky Lager as possible without being the first one to barf off the fire escape.

But as with most people, as age intervenes, the thrill of things like falling down, being unable to form a coherent sentence, and barfing off the fire escape wear thin. And as an older member, I was expected to "maintain," because someone's got to keep the freshmen from falling off the fire escape. Now I drank my beer slowly, and as I sipped at it, a thought hit me... "hey, this stuff still sucks."

But I was still required to drink beer. So I went exploring at the liquor store, trying to find better things. I experimented with ales and stouts, imports and domestics. And then, because it was actually touching my taste buds for the first time, I started to develop a taste for it.

It was a disturbing period in my life, because now that I was going to parties and not getting blitzed, there seemed to be a less plentiful supply of beautiful women. Now that I was physically able to form a coherent sentence, the women actually expected me to be mentally able to do so as well. Let me tell you, it can be quite frightening the first time you try to make party conversation with a woman who's not blurry.

Amazingly, as I acquired my taste for beer, I also got my first taste of being a mature adult and having mature interactions with women. Unlike beer, though, that takes much longer to get used to.

As a matter of fact... I'm still working on it.



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