Years ago, while driving through Southern Minnesota to meet my future in-laws, my wife issued me a warning.
“Don’t be a snob,” she said.
I didn’t think I was.
I told her that.
“I know you,” she said, “you are going to grumble about the coffee and the beer.”
“What makes you say that?”
She took her eyes off the road long enough to fix me in her gaze. “Folgers and Bud Light?”
Our arrival was met with the obligatory cup of Folgers. Later came a can of cold Bud Light. I graciously accepted both. Who wants to come off as a snob?
When they came to visit us a few months later, my wife issued another warning.
“They are not going to like your coffee nor your beer.”
“Wait a minute,” I said, “when we went to their house, I accepted what they had to offer, why can’t they accept what I have to offer?”
It only seemed fair.
“Because real people don’t drink what you drink,” she said.
I couldn’t understand the logic. It didn’t seem fair – but after we moved to the land of weak coffee and watery beer, I came to appreciate those things.
In a place where everyone knows everyone and where everyone’s parents knew everyone else’s parents for all of their lives, tradition stands for something. It is not that people are unwilling to change, it is that they expect change to prove itself first.
It is not that new things are bad. Far from it. But newness can be addicting and like any addiction – become an end in itself. Craft beer is great – but do we really have to add pumpkin spice, cranberries and God knows what else?
Where does such madness end?
So when someone offers you a pumpkin-spice/cranberry beer topped with organic cracker crumbs and a shot of espresso – the logic of digging in your cultural heels at Folger’s and Bud Light becomes abundantly clear.
I still drink the same snobby stuff that I always have and frankly I don’t care what anyone thinks about it – and people around here are good with that because while I have yet to prove myself, I have at least proven myself to be not all that bad.
There are still those who say my tastes in coffee and beer are snobbish but at least it is a snobbishness they have become familiar with.
But times and tastes are changing.
I don’t have to drive as far to find my favorite coffee and the local liquor store stocks some pretty good craft beer and a lot of people that I know around here are drinking snob coffee and snob beer. Still, I must remain mindful.
Recently, a neighbor came over and I offered him a beer.
“I dunno,” he said, “the stuff you drink tastes like what I use to Sealcoat my driveway.”
“Yeah,” I told him, “and the stuff you drink has less taste than my well water.”
“Speaking of your well,” he said. “I hear you are having a problem with it.”
“I got a case of Bud Light cooling in the garage,” I told him, “let’s head in there and I will tell you all about it.”
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