Mom was staring at my plate in shock. It was covered with a messy pile of bacon, cheese and chicken.

“What is *that*?”

I was stunned myself. “It’s…it’s a…salad.”

Ah, the danger and the mystery that is the American roadside restaurant. You never know quite what you’ll get served. Somewhere, underneath all that protein, a few wilted green leaves could be found, or so I suspected.

But I was a wimp compared to my fellow eaters. Other families seated in the Kozy Kitchen dining room placidly awaited their deliveries of greasy eggs and meat, with two and three dishes per person, while here I was, a rank amateur, unable to handle a simple “salad”.

“There’s no way you can finish that.”

“Maybe I can, but I’ll need a stent right after.”

Let’s face it, on our trip through the towns of Southern Oregon, we must’ve acted like the most obnoxious of tourists. “Do you have anything with kale in it?” “Why doesn’t this store have an organic veggie section?” And things got even worse when it came to the alcohol department. “What do you mean you only serve Bud, Coors and Corona? This is a joke…right?” At least I dissuaded Mom from her idea of bringing her own personal lime into restaurants with her, so that she could “fix” the Caesar salad dressing. I figured the natives wouldn’t take too kindly to that.

Leaving my little hipster nest to travel the rest of the state has made me realize just how Portland I’ve really become, and has made me appreciate living here much more.

And my bacon and cheese salad? Well, I managed to eat about half of it, and was sick for the rest of the day. Like I said, I’m a total wimp. My review of the Kozy Kitchen–it’s only for the strong.

So the Stephanie Miller Show was discussing Philip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic death recently, and one of the guests was explaining the dangers of heroin.  How with heroin, you never quite know what you’re injecting into yourself, or how good/pure/lethal it might be.  And then she made the comparison to alcohol–when you see Bud in the store, you always know what you get, and there’s no such thing as bad Bud.

As a beer lover, I feel I have to correct that statement…it would be more accurate to say that Bud is always bad.  In fact, Bud is always terrible.  However, I agree that it’s terrible in a way which is consistent, and which won’t kill me.  It will also never shock me by tasting like a delicious craft brew when I open one up.  And while Bud isn’t dangerous, you might waste your life drinking bad beer…a fate not much better than death, in my opinion.

 

When I leave the office after a long week of overtime hours, after hundreds of questions from customers frustrated with their health care plans, I need a drink.  I need a drink that feels like I feel.  A beer that is dark and bitter.  The taste isn’t easy.  Something that is flirted with by irritating hipsters and shunned by normal people.  Something that shouldn’t be marketed to stay at home moms.  There might be a little chocolate or blackberry flavor mixed in there, but that won’t make the drink any friendlier or less intense.

Yeah, that’s exactly the sort of drink I need right now.  Man, it’s been a hard week.

It’s possible I’ve said it before, but it needs to be said again:  in these difficult times, I often find myself taking my amazing hometown for granted.  I whine about my life, I wonder if it would be more spectacular if I lived in Brooklyn, and then I read a news article about how our bike lanes or our microbrews or our seasonal organic food is the envy of other cities around the world.

So here’s to you again, Portland.  I love your costumed erotic balls and your steampunk-themed croquet matches and your confusing art festivals.  I love your fantasies about a city filled with bicycles and streetcars, its shiny buildings run by sun and wind alone.  They may never happen, but damn it, I dream about the same shit, so I’m a good fit for you.  I love that if the country turns Republican, we Portlanders will continue to be that tiny band of brave progressive resistance–and that we are so progressive right now, Obama seems like a Republican to us.  I’m willing to forgive you for some of the things which annoy me, like hipster moustaches and guys playing banjos.  The unemployment may be high and we may be low on the list of business-friendly states, but that’s not a bad thing.  We know there’s more to life than money.  And yeah, I love the beer.  More than that, after hearing what was on the menu during the caucus at the Iowa State Fair, I’m thankful for the food, too.  No midwestern style cuisine here, please.

So I promise never to take you for granted again.  You may not be as big or famous or exciting as other cities…but you’re perfect for me, you hopeless little dreamer, you.