I devote some of my writing energies to a blog completely dedicated to celebrating the quirkiness of my current hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, The Sunsphere is Not a Wigshop (A reference to an old Simpsons episode which brought Bart and Milhouse to our humble little city.)
I've been doing a regular BBQ Quest series at the Wigshop in which I, a barbecue snob (born and bred in the hometown of the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest) search for the best pulled pork in Knoxville. Once every other week or so, some of my fellow bloggers and I make a pilgrimage to one of our local barbecue joints and then I write about why it does or does not live up to my expectations.
You wouldn't think that would be any reason to piss someone off unless that someone was the proprietor of one of the joints I was panning, but you'd be wrong. Behold a comment posted by a Mr. or Ms. Anonymous today on one of my reviews:
'For otherwise intelligent people, you guys seem to spend an inordinate amount of time eating, or talking about, BBQ (and the sides)--possibly THE most unhealthy food you could possibly consume. Just because it is a tradition in the south doesn't make it right. Of course, what one eats is their business, but you gotta know that there is a big world of food out there that doesn't involve pigs or "gelatinous" cheese (your word). And youth is no excuse for being oblivious; the check eventually arrives.'
I have to give Mr. or Ms. Anonymous props for a well-thought-out comment. Really I'm just sharing his or her comment as a cautionary tale, and no, the caution is not about heart disease from eating too many fatty foods ... I'm going to presume despite your youth you understand that the 'check arrives eventually'.
The caution is this: if you ever feel yourself leaving a comment in this vein on a blog, please, for the love of God, barbecue and all other things holy, take a step back and a deep breath first.
I'm guessing that comment was not about the barbecue.** Perhaps Anonymous' father had a heart attack because of coronary artery disease. Perhaps Anonymous used to run a barbecue establishment and the craptastic economy has shut it down. Perhaps Anonymous' dog got eaten by a pig.
The thing is, an attitude like that -- regardless of the motive -- is going to cause Anonymous a heart attack faster than the barbecue would. In fact, if Anonymous is dealing with a family illness or job loss, the bad attitude will just multiply those stressors. And no matter how important the issue may seem (and it may very well be damned important), it likely ain't worth your health or your sanity.
With my birthday rapidly approaching, I've become tremendously introspective in the last few days about my life and everything I've gone through in the past year with my relationship and job struggles. It sucked so hard many times along the way, and I'm pretty sure no one would have blamed me if I'd gone off the deep end somewhere around mid-January, disappeared for a few weeks and turned up in Fiji, leaving bitchy comments on blog posts about wedding cakes along the way.
But I didn't go off the deep end, and here's the secret why: I stepped back, I took a deep breath and I just let it go. Let. It. Go. Leeeeeet ... it ... goooooooooo. (Takes a deep breath.)
It wasn't the easiest way to handle things by any means. It required tremendous effort, and certainly I stumbled along the way. But it was the most rewarding path to take. I am currently happy, able to enjoy both healthy and unhealthy foods and don't get stressed out about bloggers who write about topics I don't necessarily agree with, be them mundane or not. I'm also able to laugh off commenters who choose to pick me apart.
And yes, I did use the word 'gelatinous' to describe the mac and cheese, and every bite of that gelatinous mac and cheese was worth both the comment and the extra mile I had to run to work it off. Don't forget to run that barbecue off, because the check arrives eventually, you know.
**Modern Max said to me after reading the comment: getting grumpy about BBQ is like getting grumpy about sunshine.