Sunday, December 4, 2011

Coffee, Stat

OH MY LORD, are we out of coffee? Really? What time does Starbucks open? Not till 5:30 AM? What the #@%"&# is the matter with them? We are experiencing a caffeine crisis here, people. I cannot be held responsible for my actions if I don't get some arabica beans ground, and, pronto!

For most of our marriage, Steve has brought me my first morning cup of java in bed. When I mention this to people, they are big with the "aww's" as in "aww, that's so sweet/thoughtful/romantic." Not at all. Steve's daily gesture is pure self-preservation. He approaches me, mug in outstretched hand, much the way a zookeeper throws a tidbit to the resident lion: keeping a safe distance, he makes his peace offering, hoping not to have his hand bitten off.

I vividly remember my premiere foray into the mysterious grown up world of coffee drinkers. We were on vacation at the Jersey shore. I was 11.  A family tradition was dinner at the Normandy Inn. One night as usual the grown-ups ordered that mysterious after-supper beverage known as Sanka. In as blasĂ© a tone as I could manage, I ordered some Sanka for myself. Oh yes, I assured my grandma, I now drank Sanka every day. The steaming cup arrived at my elbow. All adult eyes on me, I took what I hoped was an experienced sip. Wow! I thought. That was--that was---disgusting!

What began as a bad first date, soon blossomed into true love. By high school I was a daily coffee drinker. I never returned to the foul Sanka, but instead became addicted to the real thing. It was a wake-me-up, a pick-me-up, a keep-me-up (to write that pesky philosophy paper at 2 AM). I grew to love the strong, slightly bitter flavor, the unmistakable buzz. Coffee was, for me, the most fun you could legally have.

And the affair continued, and continues, to this day. Oh, we've broken up from time to time (5 pregnancies), but we've always found each other again (5 minutes after each birth). Coffee is a delicious and energizing constant in a changing world, a drink as delightful to share as it is to enjoy solo.

One of my proudest moments as a mom was the day Rosie became a barista. Suddenly I had a bona-fide expert in the house! Best of all, she (we) had a nifty perk: a free pound of coffee every payday. Rose now lives in NYC, a college grad with a good job...but she still works part-time in a coffee shop. Like her mom, it seems caffeine is in her blood.

Oh, I know I should probably quit. I should learn to love chamomile tea, hot water with lemon. But here's the thing: I don't want to. On the laundry list of vices, I think coffee ranks pretty low.

So bring it on, Steve. Help me struggle to consciousness again this morning with Café Verona. Give me hope. Help me cope. Give me coffee.

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