It's been a week since my last post, and I do have to say that I have a good excuse for being lax lately. Excuses actually. It rained about 12 inches in the span of about five days last week. Roads washed out. Rivers overflowed. My yard made squishy noises when walked upon days after the rains stopped. School was canceled for the students Friday and Monday and I had to scramble to reschedule two rained out tennis matches so we could finish region play before the end of the regular season this week, not to mention the chaos brought by having the last day of research for term papers being rained out.
At the end of all of that, I drove up to Athens (the one with the University of Georgia, not the anti-police riots) for a beer festival. I haven't been going the past couple of years because of distance and scheduling conflicts, but this was a highlight of my beer geek year for a significant period of time after college. The only reason I mention all of this is because this weekend involved one of my favorite parts of life: showing something new to someone and seeing them really enjoy the novel experience. In high school one of my friends called me her "guru" after turning her on to several fairly obscure musical acts over the course of our senior year. That's still one of the more satisfying parts of my grade school career, right up there with getting to play in the semifinals of the state tennis tournament and graduating. My wife managed to flatter me by becoming a bit of a beer snob at my tutoring. I still feel pride every time she drinks a nice stout or IPA. This weekend, it was my buddy Rentz's turn to give me a sense of worth.
Rentz isn't much of a beer geek. In the past, he's consumed my homebrew politely and claimed he enjoyed it, but he has also told me that Terrapin (the brewery that drew my wife into real beer) was horrible. I kind of expected the festival to be a disaster for him.
I was in a good mood when we arrived at the festival, so I wanted to shock him with his first sample. I drug him over to the Dogfish Head table as soon as we got into the festival venue and commanded him to ask for the Aprihop. Dogfish Head is known for extreme beers, including an imperial stout clocking in at more than 20 percent alcohol by volume, IPAs that register more international bitterness units than the human tongue and brain are capable of perceiving, and beers recreated from archaeological findings in the Middle East and China. The one I had him try was Dogfish's apricot infused IPA. Aprihop isn't one of Dogfish's boldest offerings, but it's not a beer for newbies, either. I was both pleased and a little disappointed when Rentz expressed pleasant surprise after trying the beer. I was thrilled to realize he was going to enjoy the festival, but a little disappointed that my attempt to gross him out failed. Suddenly, I'd gone from expecting him to follow Hank and I around with a look of disgust as we enjoyed our samples to getting to watch a guy suddenly excited by an experience he never really knew existed. Over the course of the afternoon, he'd talked to a distributor about adding the Oskar Blues' lineup to his store, and gone back repeatedly for more Dragon Stout. It wasn't until his last beer, when I finally forced him to try Terrible from Unibroue (a Belgian-themed brewery from Quebec) that I finally got one he wouldn't finish. The funky, yeasty, alcoholic beers from Unibroue are a little out there if you aren't used to Belgian styles.
This wasn't the only time during the trip that I got to feel that sense of pride at introducing a new love to someone during this trip. On the way up, Rentz requested me to play any This American Life shows I had on my mp3 player. I'd played a couple for him when K and I had taken him up to Atlanta for the Stone Temple Pilots show and he'd apparently fallen in love with the program. He'd even bought the first season of the show's TV version on DVD between our two road trips.
On Sunday after the festival, we went to an Indian restaurant for supper before heading back home. Rentz had never tried Indian food, so I was a little worried. The spices can be a little overpowering and strange to the uninitiated, but I love the food. Again, Rentz seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience, noshing curries and rice until he was physically uncomfortable. Oddly, the Indian rice pudding, by far the least exotic offering of the dinner, was the only thing he didn't care for.
Finally, on the way home, I played for him one of my recent discoveries (something I found through Courtney's blog). Rentz was a history major in college and after a bit of discussion driving up on Saturday, I decided he'd enjoy Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast on the trip down again on Sunday. I queued up Carlin's part II and part III of his series on the Punic Wars and Rentz was again enthralled, making sure to get the name correct before heading home that night after we got back into town.
Maybe this is why Mickey seemed to enjoy hiking with me last year. He was able to pass on his enjoyment of backpacking to someone who was genuinely enthusiastic about receiving the new knowledge. It's a shame I can't work this sort of fulfilling experience into my life more often.
And a tip for those of you trying to get into my pants or manipulate me for your own purposes. Forget flattering me with false compliments. I'm far too self-loathing to buy into flattery. Forget gifts and free food. I like food, but I'm just not materialistic enough to be won through gifts. Instead, let me teach you something I love and pretend to love it as much as I do. You'll have me in the palm of your dastardly little hands.