Long ago I worked at an unnamed major hospital on Kings Highway and I-64 in a fictional East Missouri city. My co-working nemesis I’ll call “Dorf,” made me want to kill my ears every time he talked. Dorf is the kind of guy who’s so loud, uncouth, and unkempt, he makes everyone run the other way when he comes in the room. Somehow I got cornered by him and, in the midst of his idiotic ramblings, he said some very profound things. Eventually I got used to Dorf’s shortcomings and really learned a lot about life from him. It took some effort, but I kind of liked him by the time I left that job. There must be a term for the process of going from repulsion to acceptance.
I went to a Greek restaurant, and the salad looked interesting. When it arrived, I tasted the white creamy cheese called “Feta,” and it was horrible. To me, it tasted like kerosene, and not the good kerosene. It tasted like the nasty kerosene out of a rusty can in the back of a collapsed barn in a snake-infested bog. The pickled octopus tasted even worse, with its dripping sour juice and the little rubbery suction cups. I used the solvent-scented cheese to mask the terrible tentacle. By the end of the meal, the cheese wasn’t that bad. Now, after eons, I sometimes crave it. If only there was a term to describe that process.
Recently, the wife and I were camping, if you can call RV-ing with AC and 14 color TV channels “camping.” Part of the camping tradition is to talk to other campers. This time we were roughing it with only 7 channels and spotty Wi-Fi at Scott Air Force Base. Our fellow stoics were in various stages of military service. While I was walking the wife’s rotund wiener dog, I started talking to a young woman who was en route from south Georgia. Since I’ve completed a mosquito-bitten tour there at the Air Force’s “Camp Swamp Rot and Gator Emporium,” we had common ground for discussion. I mentioned the local boys who drive up out of the swamps in cars that would embarrass the Beverly Hillbillies. She nodded her head in agreement and mentioned how much she loves their local boiled peanuts. I affirmed her assessment, and we agreed that their saltiness and generally mushy brownness were off-putting at first, but grew into an obsession. She coined a term when she said they’re “an acquired taste.” At last, it’s a term to describe the process of going from dislike to acceptance, to affection for a thing. You heard it here first. The term is “acquired taste.”
The Air Force lady commented on my wife’s dachshund, and I confirmed that, like boiled peanuts, they’re an acquired taste. The dogs’ look and their bad attitudes are off-putting to, well, everyone. I think that the few people who like “wiener dogs” probably have a brain tumor. Even if that’s not the case, they take considerable getting used to. I may get used to our wiener dog any year now. I could acquire a taste for them, or not.
A lot of things in life are like that. Things that seem mushy and unappetizing grow on us, and we learn to like them. Like parenthood, for example. When you become parents, you go from looking forward to staying up half the night with good friends, to looking forward to sleeping half of the night if your inconsolable infant sees fit. Sure, you love your baby, but they’re all pretty distasteful at first with all of the crying and constant bodily fluids. Eventually, you grow to love everything about them and can’t imagine life without them. They’re an acquired taste, until they become teenagers when they’re distasteful again. I’m unsure if they ever become an acquired taste again.
Work is an acquired taste. You all know the drill. At least the people who aren’t “starving artists” or “self-employed” know the drill. Okay, a couple of my couch-bound grandsons don’t know the drill either. The rest of us know the drill. You go through harrowing application and interview processes to get a soul-sucking job. By the third day of employment, you’re sure you’ll die if you have to endure one more minute on the clock. Eventually, payday comes and you gradually learn to accept the mushy brown saltiness of work. Some people even claim to like work, which makes it “an acquired taste.”
My point is, that if you stick it out, you can grow to like almost anything. Just give it time, and you can have affection for the worst job or the nastiest coworker. Hang in there, and you’ll start to like the weird cheese. The oblong dog with the snarky attitude is another matter. You may never like it.
You can Email Charlie at email@example.com or write him at PO Box 378, Norris City, Il 62869. You should acquire the taste for his book, “Geezer Rock Daily Demotivational” It’s available on Amazon.com for a mere pittance.