Happy Birthday From Marlboro

IMG_0990Today my secretary walked into my office and said, “I didn’t know you smoked.”

“I don’t,” I responded.

“Marlboro apparently thinks differently,” she replied with a laugh, and then handed me a black box that I’d gotten in the mail.

I looked at it, and sure enough, the return address on the label said it was from Marlboro.  I removed the black cardboard outer sleeve, and inside was a black flip-top box with “Happy Birthday” written all over it.  Not exactly festive birthday colors, there, Marlboro!  It was almost like Dr. Kevorkian was sending me birthday greetings.

And then I realized that, coming from Marlboro, black was probably a pretty appropriate color.  But what the hell kind of birthday present would Marlboro send?  A black carved wooden figure of the Grim Reaper?  A black cigarette lighter?  A black ashtray with a laughing skull or a blood red caduceus in the center?

Nope.  Underneath a card that showed a cowboy pitching horseshoes somewhere out west were some ear buds for an iPod, with different sized plugs depending on your earhole size.  Customized ear buds!  Pretty weird, Marlboro.  Pretty darned weird.

It didn’t make me want to go out and buy a pack of cigarettes, by the way.

In A Sour Mood

Let’s face it:  things seem pretty darned bleak right now.  From the presidential choice to the fighting overseas to the fact that the “Bathroom Bandit” is ripping off plumbing parts from public bathrooms throughout Columbus, leaving luckless patrons who need to tinkle high and dry, the news just isn’t good.

So why shouldn’t my beer of choice match my acerbic mood?  That’s right — I’m going to go sour for a while.

20140316primaryimagesoursI’ve become more of a wine drinker these days, but when warm weather comes (that is, if it ever comes) nothing satisfies like a cold beer.  I’ve enjoyed the craft beer explosion that has given a tremendous range of choices to those of us who relish a glad of suds now and then, but it seems like too many of the craft breweries focus on variations of IPAs.  I’m really not an IPA guy — they are just too hoppy and bitter for my taste.  When I drink an IPA, I always feel like it’s kind of a chore to get to the bottom of the glass.  So even though lots of ale aficionados argue that IPAs are the creme de la creme of craft beers, I don’t care.  If your taste buds don’t allow you to truly savor your glass of brew, what’s the point?

Recently I was out and about for lunch on a weekend and randomly selected a draft beer from the menu at a local restaurant.  Unbeknownst to me, it was a sour beer.  I took a sip, and after thinking “what the heck?” and screwing my face up at the tartness, I took another.  By the end of the pint I was sold.  The taste was bright and refreshing and a welcome relief from the hoppy hell of IPAs.

So now I search my local shops and pubs for sours.  They’re much harder to find then the ubiquitous IPAs, but successful searches are amply rewarded by the sweet sourness.

I’ll probably continue my mood/beer choice approach and stick with the sours for a while.  In fact, I’ve already planned my beer choice for after the election.  With a nod to our British friends across the ocean, I’ll be going with bitter.