Monday, September 29, 2008

In My Neighborhood

Rosemary has an entertaining blog entry today about how important it is, in her little corner of the world, to have a sturdy mailbox. (Apparently every winter, the snow plow driver is on a mission to knock over every mailbox in her neighborhood.) Too funny!

So this got me thinking: what is uniquely important to the people in my little corner of the world, here in downtown Chi-town?

Here are some thoughts—

--Living in downtown Chicago, location becomes VERY important. When I hear about a restaurant in the city that sounds really good, my first thought is, “But is it within 5 train stops, or a 20-minute walk of my apartment?” If not, you can forget about it. Hey, I live in downtown for a reason—I shouldn’t have to go too far out of my way for some Kung Pao chicken or a quesadilla.

--Living in downtown Chicago, you become very familiar with your “neighborhood homeless guy,” and it’s important to remember the last time you gave him money. It’s okay to not give to him every time, but he gets a little “insistent” when you walk by him several times without giving. Since I spend my life trying to avoid confrontation at all costs, it’s important to me to remember when was the last time I gave.

--Living in downtown Chicago, it’s important to be able to spot a crazy person from several blocks away. If he’s weaving, or yelling at complete strangers, you just casually cross to the other side of the street to avoid any confrontation. (Again, with avoiding the confrontation. OK, maybe I need a therapist to talk about my avoidance issues.) And actually, Iwanski is different from me on this one. He gravitates toward the crazies. Hmm, maybe he’s the one who needs a therapist.

I wonder what it’s like in other “neighborhoods” around the world?

I wonder if somewhere, the most important thing is to try to have the biggest rooster or cow in town?

I wouldn’t doubt it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pet Peeves

Iwanski has a pet peeve (also known as Iwanski Rule #17) that I like to tease him about. He can’t stand it when people shorten words that aren’t all that hard to say. For example, “guac” for guacamole, or “caj” (or maybe “cajh”) for casual.

So Friday morning, when I got dressed for casual day at work, I made sure to say, “Yep, I get to dress cajh today.”

Iwanski loved that.

Today, I bought an avocado and plan to make some “guac.” (Evil laugh.)

While we’re at it, here’s one of my biggest pet peeves: when someone says he/she “threw me under the bus.” Really? Is the situation really that bad that it’s like being hurled under a 2-ton vehicle? Iwanski hates this phrase, too…especially because it’s usually spoken by someone who is an extremely annoying drama queen.

But the other night on the Iwanski/Winter internet radio show, I actually heard Iwanski say a version of that phrase. The nerve of him!

Later, he said to me, “I actually said something like ‘threw me under the bus,’ didn’t I?”

“Yes, you did,” I said. “It was horrifying.”

“The minute those words left my mouth, I wanted to vomit,” he said.

That’s how much we hate that phrase.

I will punch the next person that says it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pleasantly Surprised

Did you ever have one of those moments, as an adult, when you realized that you actually like something that you always thought you hated? Or when you realized that your first impression of something was totally wrong?

I guess you could call them “pleasant surprises.” As an adult (yikes, I’m an adult?! How did that happen??) , I’ve had quite a few pleasant--and unpleasant—surprises. Here are some of them:

Pleasant Surprises (As An Adult)

--Hee Haw…I’ve always thought this show was really hokey—and I was right. But once I accepted that hokey can be funny, I actually started finding this show pretty amusing. Trust me—just suspend all your judgment of rednecks, and you will find yourself laughing at the jokes on Hee Haw. And of course, if you like country music, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better country-music musicians than Roy Clark and Buck Owens.

--Iwanski…seriously! OK, picture this—I had only met Iwanski very briefly once before, and the second time I met him, he pretty quickly started arguing politics with me. It made me uncomfortable (later I realized that was because I didn’t know why I believed what I believed!)…but very soon he started growing on me, and I actually started to like the fact that he challenged my beliefs and opinions. Now, what can I say? I guess I kinda like him.

--Baked potatoes (w/sour cream)…I grew up thinking I hated ALL potatoes except french fries. One time, as a small child, my well-meaning Dad tried to force-feed me mashed potatoes, and I immediately gagged and threw it all up. I still think that mashed potatoes are vile (I know, you probably think it’s weird—but it’s the mushy texture that really bothers me)…but several years ago, I tried a baked potato with sour cream—and lo and behold, I liked it! Of course, I pretty much like anything with sour cream—but still, it was pretty amazing for me to discover that I actually like potatoes.

--Living in the city…I grew up in a small Wisconsin town of a little over 1000 people…and I never—not in a million years—dreamed that I would live in a big city—much less enjoy living in a big city! I figured I would end up living in a small town or in the country—like my parents, and their parents before them. Now, I love living here in the city of Chi-town. I love the culture and the public transit and the variety of restaurants and people in this city. I am ever-so-grateful that Iwanski and I decided to move here from the smallish (40,000 people) town we lived in, in Wisconsin.

--Owning a cat…I grew up thinking I was allergic to cats—I was convinced of it. But then, a chance encounter with a beautiful white fluffy cat who purred and rubbed all over me with his tail (and was later returned to his owners) really made me reconsider my “allergy.” I wanted a cat, and so Iwanski and I got little Autumn from the local humane society. Guess what? Besides just a tiny bit of sniffling, I had no real allergies to speak of! Three months later, we decided to get another cat, and we picked up our little Hattie from the shelter. Now I love having cats…even when I’m trying to finish writing on my blog, and they’re whining and harassing me to feed them. (They're driving me crazy right now...)

I’m so glad I’ve had those pleasant surprises in my lifetime. Where would I be without Iwanski and my little kitties? And living in the city has enriched my life in more ways than I can count. And as for Hee Haw and mashed potatoes? Well, they are just two ways of making life fun and delicious.

But what about unpleasant surprises? Well, I can only think of two things:

--Owning a cat…because of the vomit and the noises, and the vomit-noises.

--Slowing Metabolism…I have reached age 35. I’ve noticed it seems harder to lose weight nowadays and far easier to gain it. Yep, it sucks.

Well, I’m glad to see that my list of pleasant surprises is much longer than my list of unpleasant surprises.

I guess I’m just one lucky (and pleasantly surprised) Miss Healthypants.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Let me tell you a little something about Iwanski.

Iwanski and I have been married for over 11 years, and I love him more and more every day. Every single day he makes me laugh. Can you imagine being married to someone like that? Life is grand when you’re married to Iwanski.

And not only does he make me laugh, but he also makes me smile when I’m feeling down. Ever so often, I have what I’ve recently referred to as a “meltdown.” During that day or two, I’m completely irrational and get upset about the littlest things…and finally, I break down and cry for a good hour or two, all the while spouting crazy melodramatic thoughts. Iwanski just sits there and listens, and then holds me and helps me see that everything is really okay, and that everything in the future is going to be okay.

He is my soulmate and my best friend, and I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Even though today is no special occasion, I had these feelings welling up inside of me, and I just had to write them down.

I love you, honey. Thank you for being the best friend and husband a girl could ever ask for.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lost and Frowned

I have lost my MP-3 player.

I can’t tell you how sad I am about this—especially since I think I actually left it down in the exercise room of our building. How could I do this?—you may ask. Well, I’ve asked myself that question about a thousand times already, and I can’t conceivably figure out how I could have done that. But I haven’t been able to find it in our apartment after extensive searching—so I have to figure that I must have left it down there. (Yep, of course I checked down there, too—it wasn’t there.)

When I first lost it, I thought it was probably just deep in the bowels of our recliner—which is where it ended up the last time I lost it—but not this time. I have dug into the bowels of both our recliner and our couch, but no dice—well, actually, there were some dice, but no MP-3 player. I found other unsavory items, as well—but I guess that’ll happen when you go bowel-digging.

Then I checked with our doorman, Danny—who’s this sweet 80-year-old man—to see if anyone had dropped it off down there. When I told him what I had lost, he said, “A what? Could you please spell that?” When I said slowly “MP-3 player,” he said, “OK, an M-T-3 player. You’ll have to forgive me, I don’t know what that is.” “Um, it’s like a radio with headphones,” I said. For a second I thought I was talking to John McCain. But Danny hadn’t seen it, either.

So then I really started searching—into every nook and cranny of our house. Our cat, Autumn, followed me around as I dug into the farthest recesses of our home—like underneath my dresser—and dug out lots of little fuzzy toy mice—but no MP-3 player. She was delighted as I pulled every little toy mouse out from under the dresser and the couch and threw it at her.

Finally, exhausted from all my searching and sneezing like a maniac from all the dust I had kicked up, I gave up and sat back, watching Autumn play. She was really having fun with those mice—tossing them up in the air and then rolling around with them, biting and clawing at her “prey.” As I sat there and watched her, I thought about the fact that Autumn had no idea that those mice had gone missing months ago, and obviously she didn’t care, either.

And I realized that that is probably one way that cats are superior to humans—they have no attachment to material things. Even if you waved a hundred-dollar bill in front of their faces, they would probably just eat it.

So I decided to test that concept. I gave Autumn a dollar bill (being fresh out of $100 bills) just to see what she would do with it.

See? She started eating it and playing with it. She had no idea—nor did she care—what it was. To her, everything is either a toy or food—and nothing else. And she couldn’t care less when, two minutes later, I took the dollar bill away from her. She just went in the corner and took a nap.

And I decided right then and there—I want to be more like that. I don’t want to be so attached to material items that I feel extremely sad when one of them comes up missing. Yes, I will miss my MP-3 player—but it is entirely replaceable. It’s not like I lost SOMEONE—just some thing.

And happily, after spending just the right (irritating) amount of time lecturing me about being more careful with my things in the future, Iwanski has agreed that we can purchase a new MP-3 player for me very soon.

I know I probably don’t deserve it—after being so careless with this one—but I will certainly be happy to have my music back.

Because that’s really the only part that I’m sad about—that I can’t take my music around with me. But until I purchase a new one, I will just try to enjoy the city sounds as I walk to and from work—and I’ll swallow my medicine and learn my lesson so that I’ll always have my music with me in the future.

Buck as Hank

Have I mentioned that my good friend Buck kinda looks like Hank Hill from "King of the Hill"?

Don't believe me? Well, check out this video of "Hank" and our cat, Autumn. (Although Buck keeps calling her "Hattie," which is our other cat.)

I laughed SO hard when I was filming this. Buck makes one funny Hank Hill--don'tcha think??

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ya Gotta Have Fun

Buck and I have exercised three times this week. Yay us! I can already feel the pounds falling off me…

So we’re going to celebrate by having some wine.

Kinda defeats the purpose of exercise, doesn’t it?

But hey, you can’t always be good! And I believe that it’s very important to have variety in life.

And also wine. Because I like wine.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Found in the Morning

This is what I saw on the kitchen counter when I woke up this morning.

Yes, that’s right, folks—I live with a hobo.

I actually asked him if he ate it right out of the can. Yesiree, I did. But he didn’t. Thank God.

I guess he’s not a hobo after all.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So Very Pathetic

OK, I’m really, really trying to be positive here.

I really believe that in everyone’s life, there are times when you’re on top of a mountain, and sometimes you’re down in a valley.

I’m in a bit of a valley right now.

Honestly, I think the end of summer is kind-of getting me down. Isn’t that crazy? But I think that I really enjoy the summertime and the warm weather more than most people do.

What I really need to do is think of things that I actually enjoy about the fall.

Like hot apple cider…Chicago Bears games (when they win, anyway)…a cup of hot coffee on a cool day…the crunch of leaves underfoot…getting to wear clothes I haven’t worn in a while (it’s like a new wardrobe!—whoo hoo!)…apple and pumpkin season…a cool walk in a colorful forest…

Can anyone else think of any other good things about fall?

Does anyone else feel the way I do?

I know I’ll be up on top of that mountain sometime again soon…but in the meantime, I will just have to try to be grateful for all the good things in my life—like my wonderful husband, a job that I enjoy, and great family, friends, and blog buddies!

I hope you know I appreciate y’all! I really do.


OK, now that I wrote all this, I am looking back at what I wrote, and I’m thinking:

Oh poor Miss Healthypants. She’s so depressed about the damn weather. There are people in the world that don’t have enough to eat, and I’m depressed about THE WEATHER.

My, how pathetic I am!

I am exactly what’s wrong with America.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Remembering Grandpa

In a few weeks, Iwanski and I are planning a trip up to Cheeseland to see my family. As part of the trip, we are planning to surprise my Grandma Diedrich (pronounced “Deed-rick”—yes, very German) by visiting her on her 93rd birthday. I can’t wait to see the smile on her face as we walk through her door.

I have realized that I’m very lucky, at my age, to still have a living grandparent. My Grandma is the first of five generations of us, and although she has lots of physical complaints (who wouldn’t, at age 93?), her mind is still going strong. And she is also a very sweet, loving person.

Often, when I think about my Grandma, I also think about my Grandpa, her late husband. Grandpa Diedrich died when I was in sixth grade, but I still remember him so well.

I loved my Grandpa Diedrich. In my eyes, he was just the jolliest, happiest guy around. He worked as a janitor in the public schools of the small town where I grew up, but from his attitude, you would think he was a millionaire. I’m sure there were times when he felt sad or angry, but I don’t remember ever seeing a frown on his face. Whenever I think of him, I think of him with a big smile on his face, his eyes twinkling, teasing me about one thing or another—like how I pronounced the word “peas.” (Like a true Wisconsinite, I pronounced it with two syllables: “pee-ahs.”)

I also remember that Grandpa paid lots of attention to me. I remember that he had a bar in his basement, and he would regularly make me “kiddie cocktails” (cherry juice and 7-Up, with lots of marachino cherries in the glass). Then, after a party at his house, when there were lots of dirty glasses and stir-sticks littering the bar, I would help him clean it up. He would always reward me with a big smile and a big shiny quarter. (Wow, how much money a quarter seemed to be in those days!) I would also get a quarter and a smile for helping him clean out his shed in the yard.

Later, when I was a little older (maybe about 11 years old), he would watch game shows on TV with me. Since I was just starting to become interested in boys, I always wanted to watch “Love Connection.” Now, I’m sure Grandpa had no interest in watching that show, but he would sit there and watch it with me, and we would both guess on which girl the guy would pick to date (or which guy the girl would pick). The funny thing was, my Grandpa always guessed correctly. It was amazing to me. I thought he must have been one of the smartest guys alive.

Grandpa died just before Christmas, in 1984. I remember coming home from school, all excited about the Christmas gifts that I’d gotten from my friends, and my older sister Holly was home early from school, just lying there on the couch. I asked her why she was home so early, and she said, “Grandpa Diedrich died today.”

I was shocked. I just sat there, feeling sad and confused. To me, I had never even considered the fact that he could die someday.

Later that night, I remember that my Mom looked exhausted and really, really sad. All I could think of to do was give her a big hug. I could imagine that she felt even sadder than I did.

And at my Grandpa’s funeral, I remember that all my brothers and sisters gathered to sing “The Prayer of St. Francis.” Ever since then, I have loved that song. “Make me a channel of your peace” is a statement I would always like to live by.

In my memories, Grandpa was definitely a channel of peace. He brought me joy and laughter, and I will never forget how he always made me feel so special and loved.

Nowadays, the show “Love Connection” has been replaced by other reality shows, like “Big Brother” and “Flavor of Love.” Although I don’t watch too many of those shows, whenever I do, I can feel my Grandpa right there beside me, always guessing the winner—and always guessing right.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wii Miss You

I am committed.

This should come as no surprise to those of you who probably think I should be committed. But seriously, folks, I have joined forces with my good friend Buck to commit to exercising for a half an hour, four days a week.

Four days a week. That should be manageable, right?

God, I hope so. It will certainly be better than my current schedule of NO days a week. OK, to be fair, I have still been doing my “8 minutes in the morning” strength-building exercises—but not as consistently as I would like to.

And my poor Wii Fit. Yesterday morning, I got on the Wii Fit and heard it cry softly about missing me.

No really, it did.

OK, it didn’t. But it did chastise me about not having been on there for 43 (!) days, and even teasingly called me “Iwanski.”

The poor thing. It has had nothing to do for 43 days. I really must pay more attention to it.

But regardless of my Wii Fit activities, Buck and I have decided that we will at least walk on a treadmill or lift weights every day from Monday through Thursday, and we’re going to do it!

We have to. Otherwise I can no longer go by the name Miss Healthypants—I will instead have to be called Miss Fattypants.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Guess I Needed a Nanny

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Miss Healthypants became sick again today.

But never fear, it was nothing that lots of water and assorted Gatorade-type beverages, an hour-long episode of Nanny 911, and then a four-hour nap couldn’t cure.

Yep, apparently that dizzy, hot, light-headed feeling just meant that I was REALLY thirsty and REALLY tired.

And apparently needin’ some Nanny 911 therapy.

OK, am I the only one who loves loves loves this show? I’m guessing yes. I can’t help it; there’s just something so satisfying about watching two idiot parents and a bunch of bratty kids get their come-uppance. And of course, there’s also that sentimental side of me that really digs on the fact that there’s always a happy ending.

But I realized something recently: the families on this show always have at least three or four horribly misbehaved kids. So my question is: if each time these parents kept having brattier and brattier children, then why on earth did they keep having them? Have they never heard of birth control? Or are they just gluttons for punishment? See?—idiots.

But I do have to say that this is the perfect show for when you’re feeling tired or sick or down in the dumps, because it’s all about hope. Each time, you think “This has got to be the worst family. If the nanny can turn this family around, then anything can happen.”

Like today, the show I tivo’d had a family with a kid who absolutely refused to be toilet trained. However, he would gladly use the front lawn or the flower garden to do his business. The kid was so terrified of using the toilet, he would hold it for hours and scream bloody murder at the mere thought of going in the bathroom. The poor nanny tried everything—she even brought a bunch of plants in around the toilet to make him feel like he was outside. But nothing worked—even him having an accident in his pants didn’t help. Finally, she enlisted the help of his big brother, who was finally able to make him feel better about using the toilet. Thank God, because it was a pretty disgusting habit he had gotten into. Something had to work—and it finally did.

Iwanski doesn’t quite understand why I like this show so much. The other day, I was watching an episode where a couple of little girls (sisters) were talking about the fact that they were adopted (and feeling badly about it). The nanny looked at them with tears in her eyes and said, “Being adopted means that you’re special, because you came from Mommy and Daddy’s hearts.”

I just lost it. The tears were flowing, and Iwanski was just smiling at me, clearly amused by my sentimentality.

OK, maybe it is more of a chick show.

But that’s okay, ‘cause I’m a chick. And I like it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cheeseheads in Chicago

Yesterday, my sister Mary and three of her kids—including the lovely Sfoofie—and her quietly funny husband Nabil, came down from Wisconsin to Chicago to spend the day with Iwanski and me.

Let me tell you, this was the most Chicago touring that I’ve probably ever done in one day. It was a whole lot of Chicago. And it was a whole lot of fun.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get too many pictures (Sfoofie and Mary were in competition for “top number of pictures taken in one day”)—but I kinda liked this “in action” shot of Sfoofie, Mary, Mary’s other daughter Savannah, and me playing around in the Crown fountain. We were running around, splashing each other like a bunch of five-year-olds, and it felt so good! Sometimes you just gotta act like a kid, you know?

So besides remembering how fun it is to splash around in a fountain, here are other things I learned yesterday:

1. Buck really is one of the most generous people I know. When he heard that my sister—who hadn’t been to Chicago in probably about 20 years—was coming down on Saturday, he immediately invited us all to come over and come up to the rooftop of his building (Marina City). It’s a fantastic view, and I think we all enjoyed it very much.

2. My sister Mary is a lot more like me than I ever realized. A few cases in point:

a. We both love weather. When we heard the Field Museum has an exhibit about weather, we both decided to pay extra for that exhibit. (Note: I really hope that the volcano underneath Yellowstone National Park never decides to erupt. That would be very, very bad.)

b. Mary’s husband teases her often about being “unaware” of the people around her. Iwanski teases me about that all the time, as I tend to wander through life bumping into people and buildings.

c. We both would never DREAM of buying a big purse. We will both stuff our small little purses so full that we can barely zip them closed, but we refuse to buy a bigger purse. That just seems to—I don’t know—“old ladyish” to us. (My apologies to all those who like big purses. They just don’t feel right to us.)

d. We both have the same little black wallet with a rose design on it. OK, just a little bit weird.

e. We both like to eat all day long and never quite feel that “full” feeling that other people describe unless we stuff ourselves silly.

3. My sister Mary doesn’t like zoos. (Sorry, Mary—I just couldn’t resist!) OK, in reality, on a scale of 1-10, she likes them at an “8”…but she also said something like, “You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.” So does she really like zoos? You be the judge.

4. Sfoofie is just the biggest sweetie, and is like a sister to me. (Well, okay, I knew that before, but yesterday just reinforced that fact.)

5. Sfoofie’s husband Nabil is a pretty quiet guy, but when he says something, it’s usually really funny. I love his sense of humor.

6. Mary’s son Zach—who is 14—is also pretty quiet, but also very funny. For example:

When Zach ordered a fish fillet and Mexican rice at a Mexican restaurant, this surprised Mary, who assumed that Zach would just order tacos. She said to him, “Wow! Zach, you’re expanding your horizons.” His reply? “Not really. I’ve had fish and rice before.”

See? Funny.

7. Savannah is nine years old, but she really is—as Mary said—“going on fifteen.” She is a beautiful, smart young lady who enjoys shopping and dancing dances from High School Musical. (When I was her age, I don’t think I ever thought about shopping or high school. I think my main focus was playing with Barbie dolls and watching “Little House on the Prairie” episodes. Wow, kids grow up so quickly these days.)

I really enjoyed our whirlwind tour of Chicago yesterday, but mostly I enjoyed being with my family and getting to know them all again. We had a lot of good conversations, and at least a couple of times, I laughed so hard that I was crying.

With seven siblings, it’s not always easy to stay in touch with all my family members, but when we do get together, it’s always a fun and interesting experience.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Moving Days

I have spent the past couple of days moving stuff from my old desk to my new desk at work. (I am finally, officially in my new position as Customer Service Manager.)

Do you know how much crap you accumulate in nine years at an office job? Well, I’ve certainly been finding out. Yesterday, I brought home from work two big bags full of:

--t-shirts and socks (I exercise sometimes during lunch)
--several boxes of different herbal teas that I never think to drink at work (I prefer Vodka)
--several books that I’ve meant to read during lunch but never quite got around to it
--a couple of CD’s I’ve loaned to people and never brought home, and
--about 5000 packets of Sweet N Low (no, I have no idea how that much Sweet N Low ever got into my desk drawer in the first place).

It was pretty amazing to discover what I had in that desk. And in case you’re wondering (although I have no idea why you would), I also ditched about 5 wastebaskets/recycle bins full of crap. Among it was:

--a phone bill that I paid in 2003
--cough drops that were no longer in the wrapper
--several Q-tips scattered wildly about the drawer
--a restaurant menu from a deli that doesn’t serve salads (now why would I ever eat there?)
--a bottle of aspirin that expired in 2005, and
--a pack of extremely stale Big Red gum

Wow. Apparently I’m a slob at work. (Iwanski might tell you I’m a slob at home, too, but don’t believe him. He lies.) But I intend to be more organized from here on out! Because even though it took a while to get through all that stuff, it felt really good to clear out the clutter.

And now I’m so organized! Even though I’m really busy in my new job, it is still pretty great to look for something and actually find it in a LABELED basket or file folder! Wow, what a feeling!

But just check back with me in a couple of months. I’ll bet that I’ll have accumulated plenty more junk—and I’m sure that among that junk will be a couple thousand more packets of Sweet N Low.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Urban Snob

A long time ago, in my previous life as a Cheesehead, I worked for a company called Rent-A-Center. You may have heard of it—they “rent-to-own” overpriced electronics and furniture to people with no credit, who have no possible way of affording what they’re renting. So essentially, they rip people off. Which is pretty much why I don’t work for them any more. But I digress.

During the time I worked there, I had two different bosses: the first one, who was a pretty nice Fundamentalist Christian type guy who could be annoying but was certainly entertaining to argue with, and the second one who was just a dick. And it was the dick who was my manager when I decided to move to Chicago.

I remember vividly when I told him I was moving to Chicago, and he asked me what part of Chicago. When I told him “downtown Chicago,” he looked at me with a smirk and said, “Oh, so you’re gonna be one of those people going to wine and cheese tastings all the time.” I rolled my eyes at him and said, “Yeah, right.” As a 25-year-old beer-drinker cheesehead, I had no interest in wine tastings, and I certainly didn’t need to taste any cheese beyond the cheddar and curds I grew up with.

So the other night, I was at a wine-tasting with Buck, and it suddenly hit me: I have become that person! I’ve been to several wine tastings (many of them unofficial wine-tastings at Buck’s apartment—but still!), and I know that an official cheese-tasting will almost certainly be in my future.

When did I become such an urban snob?, I thought to myself. But then I realized that there really is nothing inherently snobby about either wine or cheese tasting. People have been drinking wine and eating cheese for thousands of years, so what’s snobby about that? And in fact, the two official wine-tastings that I’ve attended have been very casual—I even wore shorts and a t-shirt to one of them!

And my favorite part about wine-tastings, in my limited experience, is that the people running the tastings are very friendly and down-to-earth, and don’t make any assumptions that you know anything about wine.

In a recent tasting that I attended without the wine-savvy Buck, the guy running the tasting asked me if I had ever heard of “pairings.” I said, “Uh—do you mean like, wine with food?” “Absolutely,” he said, and went on to serve me a glass of red wine with a chocolate chip. (Yummy!) It was delightful.

See, I’m not so much an urban snob than somebody who really likes food and drink—and especially, food and drink tasted slowly, with great attention to the different flavors. There is just something very “zen” about a tasting. I really, really love it.

So yes, Mr. Jerkstore Manager, I do live in downtown Chicago and attend wine tastings sometimes. It sure beats being a jerk and getting rich by ripping off poor people.