Last week an unexpected email showed up in The Ferm’s Inbox. Eating Our Words, The Houston Press’ foodie blog, was hiring again and I apparently caught the interest of one Catherine Matusow, who ended our last exchange with “we are looking for people with a more general interest in food.”
Hopefully I’m not ruining it for the reader, but this story doesn’t have a happy ending either. Thus, I considered naming this post after its predecessor. But my first Houston Press failure post gets so many hits (mostly from Googlers), that I decided to not sponge off its success. Sequels are usually not as good anyway. Plus, this post does not have the levity of the first. Absent in this post is the harebrained self interview, and only bitterness and scolding based on false impressions are to be found. Who is pumped for the story now?!
For a generally shy individual such as me, the Internet opens doors that I would never even dream of turning the doorknob in real life. When Cathy posted yet another job opening to write for Eating Our Words, I fired off an email without hesitation. I had nothing to lose. Two days later, Cathy responded.
Could you give me a more concrete idea of what you'd like to write for us? You may be aware of this, but we have a blogger named Mike Morris doing beer coverage. How about a list of ideas?
I was aware of Mike. In fact, Mike seemed to appear mere weeks after Cathy blew off my first offer to contribute to Eating Our Words (was he the other candidate?). Despite Mike providing the same content I had previously offered for the blog, I found it great to see Mike’s posts on Eating Our Words. Mike is someone who has taken an interest in beer and is a journalist. Make no mistake, in my mind regular beer topics on Eating Our Words is a huge step for thirsty craft beer enthusiasts in the city of Houston, no matter who is providing the coverage.
It would probably be an exaggeration to call Mike and I friends, but we have conversed back and forth through the comment section of his posts and through various personal emails. After his first post, I sent a few emails with ideas and some details on beer styles. More recently, we have tried to organize a get together to discuss determining esters in beer flavors (esters are the by-product of yeast during fermentation detectable in many ales). We still haven’t had that beer together, but I still have a folder of things I printed for him in my car.
Imagine for a moment if I had proposed to write a series on molecular gastronomy and a blogger with personal experience with the craft came along. Could both of us not exist harmoniously on a single blog? Does the Houston Press’ Eating Our Words not have more than one blogger covering the bar beat? Cocktails? Maybe beer itself carries a stigma that it is not worthy of standing with the foodie counterculture. This is one reason I am grateful for local beeros Kevin Floyd and Ben Fullelove, who are doing more to advance craft beer awareness in Houston than those of us that only write (beer+hero, I may have made up another word! If so, beero™). But I digress…
So the answer is yes Cathy, I’m aware of Mike. I’m a beer and wine enthusiast that enjoys writing, and I am passionate about sharing what I have learned through homebrewing and my beer travels. I don’t think I would be stepping on Mike’s toes at Eating Our Words (neither does he, but I won't speak for Mike here), and I expressed that in my response. We would have no doubt written posts on different topics or with different approaches. I mentioned my “relationship” with Mike in my response, as well as delivering a bunch of post ideas consisting of food, wine, and beer topics. I won’t copy my 774 word response in this post (yet), but apparently mentioning Mike was my big faux pas.
Cathy responded the next day.
Greg, I am going to say no. We've never presented Mike as an expert but a curious beer drinker who is experimenting. I don't like the way you've spoken of him here, and neither does my boss. So good luck to you.
Whoa! Well at least she wished me luck. I pointlessly replied:
These things are something I would say to him too, and I don't think he'd take offense. Like I said, we are friends. You probably misunderstood my tone. I figured we should have met first, but such is the nature of the Internet.
Let me be very honest here: I don’t let a lot of things in life bother me. My wife often mistakes this attitude as carelessness and has told me it bothers her, but she has learned to live with it, mostly because I’m so awesome. But Cathy’s response did bother me. I reread my email to her. To me it still read the same. No regrets. What really went wrong?
Am I an a-hole?
I emailed Mike, “Just checking... you don't think I'm an a-hole right?”
Mike promptly responded, “Absolutely not, I do not think you’re an a-hole at all whatsoever. On a related note, I am still interested in having that beer.”
I checked with my wife, “Yeah, you come off as an a-hole. And don’t think you are just going to leave me with the kids while you go have a beer with this Mike fellow.”
But I still love her, and I still love you Houston Press too. Eating Our Words luminary Katharine Shilcutt is arguably one of the best bloggers of any kind on the Houston scene. But while I will not be contributing with Mike or Katharine, you can bet that I’ll be filing another one of these next time a job opens up at Eating Our Words. Stay tuned...