There are very foods, places, movies, or anything else in the world that I hate – that don’t include the Dallas Cowboy and Green Bay Packers. My personality is such that I will give anything the benefit of the doubt, and I’ll give credit for anything I try that didn’t kill me or put me in the hospital. However, there are outliers that irk me to the point where their presence in my life is at best tolerated. I don’t hate them, but if I never have to deal with them again, it wouldn’t bother me one bit.
The Cheesecake Factory
This isn’t the normal hate where I won’t dine there; I hate the menu. Variety is a good thing but what I don’t want to do is feel like I’m reading War and Peace to determine if I want pasta or steak. Everything about the Cheesecake Factory screams suburban hostage. The décor is meh, the service is ok, and the quality of the food is nothing to write home about. As for cost, most outings with the wife won’t break the bank. I could easily walk out spending less than $75 but liquor adds up fast and I’m a generous tipper. For people who are less adventurous, or would rather not risk a bad meal with an outing with the kids, it works well. If you’re on a first date and are not sure about the culinary taste of your acquaintance, having them peruse through the restaurant’s industry version of Remembrance Rock.
My high school years flew without me having indulged much in alcohol. While my friends were “knitting” dimes to buy Mad Dog 20/20, I stuck with sips of Budweiser and rarely finished an entire beer. The military changed that and I discovered the hard way, beer and vodka. I avoided the dark stuff and fully committed to vodka mixed with everything imaginable. Then one morning after a night of drinking I woke up with a terrible headache. I didn’t think much of it until it happened again after drinking just two shots of Absolute vodka. Eventually, the headaches came soon after drinking vodka. I switch brands and now understand that the quality of the vodka determines how my head responds to it. My love for vodka has waned. I stock my bar with Top Shelf vodka for friends and mixed drinks, but I now lean towards whisky and wine.
I went to Houston on business but my secret mission was to scope the layout of the land and determine if it were suitable for relocation. Although the schedule was not of my making, I’m glad that I was forced to visit Houston in the month of June. I walked out of the airport to the rental car shuttle bus stop and within five minutes I knew I could not live in Houston. It was hot. It was humid; But you’re from Chicago. Isn’t it humid there, asked several people. Yes, it is hot and humid in Chicago. But this was a different type of humidity. It was the type of humidity that made think what it must have been like to live in the Jurassic Era. It was perfect weather for a stegosaurus, not a human.
The second issue with Houston is that it is too damn big. We tend to judge cities on population not in square miles. But Houston will make you factor square miles into your equation. It is almost 600 square miles. Just to give you some perspective, that is the size of New York City, Chicago and most of Lincoln, Nebraska. You would think an advantage to a city that large it would be easy to get around. It is not. Traffic is terrible. You can drive an hour from one point in Houston to another point in Houston, and still need another hour to get there. And with all of that, most of Houston doesn’t look like a city. There are certain neighborhoods that feel “urban”, but most of the city feels suburban, and I’m being generous. It’s the most rural city I’ve ever visited. I think Sacramento is the only other large city where I felt like I was in the country.
Lord knows I tried to love it. Upon returning to Chicago after living in Los Angeles for a few years, I wanted to take up a winter sport so the winter wouldn’t drag on forever… and ever… and ever. Skiing was something I always wanted try if only to not look crazy should I ever attend a Black Ski Club event. The first couple of times hitting the slopes was fun. I enjoyed it and I was an ok skier even having forgone formal training.
The lack of training came back to bite this last winter. The initial fall wasn’t that bad. Yes, I bit the snow, lost a ski and rolled several feet. It was the trouble I had getting back on my feet while watching five-year-olds ski past me like they were little Lindsey Vonn’s and Shuan White’s. My embarrassment was palatable and the “you poor man” looks I received from other adults when I finally made it down the hill said it all. Their faces said, “…there is a reason we’re sitting here watching our kids.” Lessoned learned: If you’re going to fall on your face, do it at the bar where there is a chance you won’t remember it and no else will either.
I like golf. I don’t love it. You’ll never see me put a lot of effort into getting really good at it. If I can hit the ball relatively straight on a semi-regular basis, I’m happy. Golf is a craft that requires some dedication to getting good. Taking formal lessons is a must or you better have a patient friend who is willing to teach you.
Along with the time requirements, golf is expensive. Especially, if you want more than a driving range or nine hole course. The equipment is expensive, playing rounds is expensive, and lessons are expensive. If I fell in love with golf I would have to add the cost of playing in my budget. I’m just not willing to do it. But I’ll admit, of the five things on my list, golf is the one I could love.