Thursday, May 04, 2006

Coffee Is Not The Boss Of Me


Somewhere along the way as I was learning how to read, dress myself, multiply fractions and change the oil in my car, I forgot to learn to like coffee. I gave it a lame try during my early adulthood and I believe I accidentally ingested some as a kid and--really--that was enough for me. The bitter taste was horrendous and even doctored with a fistful of sugar and an entire cow's worth of milk, the taste was like battery acid stirred with a black licorice whip.

At the time I don't think anyone in my family dwelled too much over my negative reaction because, like many things in life, coffee is an acquired taste and it's not unusual for children to reject drinking something that causes them to shudder involuntarily. My first shot of bourbon was a walk in the park compared to...you know...coffee. During college at A&M, when staying awake was the prime motivator for learning which of the food groups contained the necessary amount of caffeine to maintain a conscious state for 72 hours straight, many of my friends fell victim to the coffee demon. After college, the necessity of staying awake using artificial means was replaced by the need to perform 90 minutes of office work using the same artificial means.

Please don't think I'm judging here. My own drug of choice was a combination of No Doz, M&Ms and a large Coke. Probably no better for me than a cup of coffee would be...maybe worse...but after college I stopped taking No Doz and I can go months without an M&M or even a soda. And staying up all night lost its buzz the minute the first kid was born.

Eventually, enough time passes that a young adult finally convinces himself/herself that coffee tastes good...good enough to drink every day. Several times a day. Constantly. By then they're totally hooked and before you know it, these same people are blaming headaches, crankiness, unproductivity at work and homicidal thoughts on the fact that they didn't get their coffee fix. Despite that, my mother maintains that coffee is nothing more than a "social drink". It hasn't helped that Starbucks has taken over the world, aiding and abetting society with their legally addictive stimulants. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying. And I wouldn't need to say anything at all were it not for the fact that my parents have struggled mightily with the concept that I don't drink the stuff.

Had my body failed to go through puberty or had I left the family fold to vote Democratic ---oh, wait--I did do that last thing--I don't think my parents could be any more surprised or dismayed. It is impossible to have a meal with my them that my dear father doesn't offer me coffee and then snicker. It's become a repetitive joke and it was one I laughed at the first few times it came up, but when I started pointing out how often THEY drank it, things started to get testy.

I would pause here to relay the saga of a long drive to Tennessee where one sister and I felt that we should accompany our parents to a family funeral rather than take a different car and just worry about their safety the whole way, but I'll give you the Reader's Digest version. How long is it from here to the eastern part of Tennessee? 12 hours? 15? Mom packed a huge thermos of hot coffee and in between conversations about family intrigue and listening to their music at decibels that allow them to hear but which also cause younger people to bleed from their ears , Mom and Dad talked about coffee. About the coffee they were drinking at that moment and about good coffee they'd had in the past.Coffee as an ingredient in other dishes. Coffee beans and different flavors of coffee. Great vacations--some in Europe--which were capped off by some even greater coffee in a sidewalk cafe. Also, they talked about foods that tasted good... with coffee. Some retired people use long drives to point out historical markers or antique shops. My parents intend to pinpoint every coffee stand between here and both coasts. "Hey...didn't we stop there for coffee once?" was heard more than it should have been. Two junkies talking about where to score some blow could not have been more repetitive or irritating. But I'm saving the details of that trip for another post.

Somehow, I guess, they feel I've failed to completely join the tribe of adults who can't enjoy life on the planet unless they're burning a tongue on a fresh cup of java or leaving coffee rings on the finance reports at work. I happen to think that I function just fine without it. Mother claims she can stop any time she wants to...but she just doesn't want to. And I could be the next President of the United States and my father will still get his biggest thrill out of offering me coffee ice cream, coffee pie or chocolate-covered coffee beans. I'm just praying that no one will make them aware of the fact that Coca-Cola just added coffee flavor to their newest crime against nature...Coke Blak. My friend Peggy says that once your parents start getting old, "you gotta love them where they are". It just so happens that where they are some of the time is all up in my face about coffee. And even though they're mostly joking, it makes me weary.

DISCLAIMER: My parents are really very lovely people and if you met them on the street they'd probably invite you over immediately for coffee and pie. I send you there with my blessings

And now for the part where I bring everything to a close with a point of trivia that is germane to my post.Since 1939 Margaret Hamilton has frightened the bejeebers out of generations of children.She aged into a really nice old lady who did not kidnap dogs nor consort with flying, bi-pedal monkeys. Near the end of her life she did, with great success, do commercials where she portrayed an elderly woman who shared the secrets of her favorite beverage with kith and kin. The beverage? Maxwell House Coffee.

Have a wonderful weekend!

33 Comments:

Blogger SUEB0B said...

Your mom can quit anytime she wants. She just has to endure a 3-day-long icepick-through-the-head headache if she wants to. Been there, done that.

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Daxohol said...

Man, you amuse me ENDLESSLY! You write about coffee and I'm glued!
I'm love me my coffee in the morning...some days I tell people to come back to my offices in 5 minutes, I need my coffee first!

6:29 PM  
Anonymous sarcastic journalist said...

I don't get the New Coke. WHY THE HECK WOULD IT TASTE LIKE COFFEE? Huh? please explain.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

I'm with ya sister, no coffee for me. I can't stand the taste, and even worse is the aftertaste and the bad breath that goes with it.

People know that, right?

I'll take tea any day of the week. Since Trader Joes started selling their gallons of kettle-brewed, it is my beverage of choice. No sugar.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Annie, The Evil Queen said...

On the rare occasion I do drink coffee first thing in the morning, I'm usually sorry in about 45 minutes nad feel hung over the rest of the day. I can do the occasionaly afternoon or evening coffee if I have food in my stomach.

And what is the deal with all the food fusion? Nothing is just one thing anymore. Salsa is now 'mango chutney salsa' and every soda and water is flavored to taste like something else. Why mix coffee and coke?

8:11 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

I know...the whole Coke and Coffee thing makes no sense whatsoever.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous lildb said...

mmmm... coffee... drooool. dude, I'm kind of, scratch that, exactly, as in the antithesis, of you regarding coffee. I actually start thinking soft, loving thoughts about tomorrow's cup around mid-afternoon (caffeine sort of prevents me from sleeping if I have any after midday, which I find really hard to talk about, so I won't) each day. I'm probably going to end up at the same rehab clinic as your parents...

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Irene said...

I've never been able to drink coffee. actually, coffee gives me gas.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I never drank coffee until my year of articles. The office I worked in bought a $1400 coffee machine, with the most fancy pants beans, and, since I worked super long hours there I needed something to keep me up. I haven't had the urge to drink it since I stopped working there.

4:51 AM  
Blogger Nilbo said...

You know, I think this may be the most perfect blog posting I have ever read. Amusing, insightful, personal without being too much of a peek behind the curtains, strong and consistent point of view ... and a lovely flourish at the end with some fascinating and perfectly relevant trivia.

I am in awe.

I am also one of those who has risked scalding by quickly moving to cover my coffee cup at restaurants. I drank Coke for years, until I realized the sugar was killing me. Now I'm drinking Diet Coke WITH LIME! and taking my risks with aspartame because fuck it, caffeine IS an addiction and I've given up everything else I loved that was bad for me.

I'm gonna go back and read this post again. It's that perfect.

6:09 AM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Fascinating post. Seriously. You made me think of my own coffee-infused life.

In college, coffee was a culture. Coffee shops were underage bars and they were everywhere. I drank lots of coffee, but I used No Doz when I really wanted to stay awake.

My real addiction began in TV news, when I was getting up at 2 in the morning for the morning show. At some point, I started drinking so much that I got shooting pains in my chest and quit caffeine completely. I got headaches like you wouldn't believe!

Now, I have one-two cups a day and I'm very happy, thank you very much. My husband drinks around 12 cups a day (um, news career?) but that's another story for another time.

The end.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Marcie said...

Coffee is the boss of me. But only with lots of half&half.

6:49 AM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

Coffee is not my boss but it is a glorified co-worker who gets paid much more than I do and has better taste in clothes.

And I might be the only person who, as a kid, liked (and felt sorry for) Margaret Hamilton in the Wizard of Oz.
The monkeys, though ... that's another story. If they ever start shilling coffee I might have to switch to that darn Coke "Blaaaaak."

7:18 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

It's all a matter of what you drink. Maxwell House = nasty nasty beverage not at all related to real coffee.
Jamiacan Blue Mountain freshly ground in my home each morning = nectar of the gods.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Hey, Irene! Coffee makes me fart too! But I drink it and toot a lot anyway. Actually, I quit the caffeine variety almost 2 years ago when I got pregnant, now I'm wondering if there's a need to go back. No, right? But I like the taste, and caffeinated tastes much better. Ah boy, could go on and on, but I'm boring myself...

11:47 AM  
Blogger Jozet said...

BAH!!!

"Two junkies talking about where to score some blow could not have been more repetitive or irritating."

WHHAAA!!!!

Hey, but you know, you just haven't had the *eh-hem* good stuff. Step into this dark back alley with me. Yeah, that's right. I got some Kona here, real smooth, no burn. Pure. This ain't cut with no Maxwell House. Man, it will blow your mind.

You like this, you come see me. I'll just need your bank account number and some upfront.

Signed,

Jo "The Venti" Halushki

1:47 PM  
Blogger Alan Smithee said...

Don't forget that Margaret Hamilton was Mrs. Eddels in the great "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters."

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My challenge to you is to make a post of 50 words or less.

1:57 AM  
Blogger Nilbo said...

I have a post of two words for anonymous.

6:33 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

Dear Anonymous,

If your reading skills are challenged by writing that is longer than a paragraph, I suggest you either hire a reading tutor or simply stay away from lengthy blogs. That said, my challenge to you is to be man (or woman) enough to be critical without using the protection of anonymity. It's really the cheapest and most cowardly kind of commentary.

7:30 AM  
Blogger CISSY said...

I love the smell of coffee. But never drank it until I had to start sitting through the legislative sessions in Missouri (insert any other state here.) I needed the caffeine to stay awake. I only drink it occasionally, but I do like it.

Kudos to you for sticking to your guns. My dad, who was a nonstop coffee drinker all his life, recently quit drinking it. Now he extols the health benefits of being caffeine free.

So I brew a lot of coffee when he's here, just to be annoying.

7:44 AM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

I think coffee tastes like dirty water.

I hate the way it makes my pee smell.

I'm a tea drinker.

Re: Coke Black. Haven't had it but here's my guess on why it exists. In the South, due to the heat, lots of folks start their day with a cold coca-cola rather than a hot coffee. I'm guessing Coke is trying to lure more coffee drinkers into the soft drink habit.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

I LOVE it when anonymous commenters try to be snarky/critical because, numero uno, they're never as smart as the blog author and other commenters, and numero dos, they can't defend themselves because they're cowards. Yay! Let's kick some anonymous ass!

Hey Anon! Come on over to my blog and try to say something funny and critical! Please?

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help me, someone!

10:18 AM  
Blogger Binky said...

My idea of true serenity involves driving aimlessly across scenic byways with a french vanilla iced coffee in hand. After years of drinking iced coffee, each new cold jolt is still a treat. I can't explain it. But I can talk at length about it anyway. I think I would enjoy your parents tremendously.

10:49 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

Anonymous- You obviously need help, but it's the kind of help only a professional in the mental health field can provide.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Nilbo said...

Anonymous: if you go to mignon's blog, I have two words for you: coffee farts.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

This is just wonderful. You make me want to drink coffee again, which I haven't done for nearly 9 years, not counting the trips to Sarajevo where to refuse would be rude. It would also mean sleeping since that stuff is STRONG but feh. Who needs sleep when you're traveling, right?

Oh, and my challenge to anonymous? Check out "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish." It's short, the words are all one syllable, there are many pictures to break up longer strings of words (we call them sentences) and I think you'll find it easy to follow. Enjoy!

2:48 PM  
Anonymous lildb said...

Wordgirl, I not only remember Mickey Dolenz a la Monkees fame, I remember when Davy Jones guested on the Brady Bunch and I even. remember. the song he sang in the recording booth, that Marsha got to eavesdrop on. "Wake up, sleepy Jean." Yessiree, I loves me some Monkees (and some Brady Bunch, because corn is yummy). But I digress. I just came by to say thanks for leaving such nice comments at my suite. I really appreciate it! :)

4:44 PM  
Anonymous sweatpantsmom said...

Coffee is totally, absolutely, unequivocally THE BOSS OF ME.

Now if you'll excuse me it's been seven minutes since my last cup.

*slurp*

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

my sister and stepmom don't like coffee, either. But they don't like soda, either. I, on the other hand love both coke and coffee (even when it's decaffeinated. Perhaps I just like brown things? Like chocolate :)

And coffee Coke? Mountain Dew, Jolt and Red Bull are not enough? Yichhh!

Loved this post...cracked me up!

10:34 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

I love this post. The tyranny of coffee and the Wicked Witch of the West. Love it.

I was deeply opposed to coffee in my youth. Of all the yummy things there are to drink, why bitter black water? Then I moved to Europe, and became a cafe snob. And then went to graduate school, began writing academic papers and teaching and, yes, coffee became the boss of me.

And now that I'm a new mother, perpetually sleep-deprived? Coffee *owns my soul.*

7:34 AM  
Blogger Rock said...

I saw Mickey Dolenz in Beverly Hill's Peninsula Hotel bar a few years back...

One of my first loves got me goin on coffee my senior year in high school during a rainy day at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. It was almost sexual. Hey that would make a great....

12:48 PM  

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