By Mike Creamer (yes, his real name)
I confess. I’m addicted.
When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is sniff the air, hoping to catch a whiff of the coffee that brewed itself for me ten minutes before I woke up.
Whoever invented the self-timing coffee pot — thank you.
I stagger to the kitchen and set out two cups, one for me, one for my wife. Roomy, capacious cups that can swallow half a pot into their porcelain depths. I measure in the Splenda, one teaspoonful for my wife, three for myself.
Yes, I like my coffee sweet. Some might even say syrupy. But no whitener, please. Ironic it may be, but I despise creamer (check the name, bucko).
After the spoon swirls, mixing the rich Columbian and the Splenda, I have a dark, sweet caffeinated confection, the perfect mug of joe, the Angelina Jolie cup of coffee: rich and full-bodied.
Nothing is quite as sweet as that first sip. Nothing is quite as warm as that mug against my hands. Though many, many more cups will follow this one each day, that first sip, that very first cup, is special.
And so are the other dozen I’ll have that day.
That’s right. Dozen. That’s an estimate, of course. I honestly don’t know how many cups of coffee I slug down each day. I don’t count — I drink. But twelve is as fair a guess as any, even if it does likely err on the side of caution. By the end of the day, I’m so hopped up on caffeine that my eyes glow like the hound of the Baskervilles. My body twitches with a speed that makes hummingbirds gape.
When did my addiction start? Like most addicts, I remember my first, forbidden sip. My grandfather’s Masonic mug sat on the table beside his La-Z-Boy recliner, wisps of steam rising from the black water. The smell was exotic, intoxicating. No one was around. Grandad had stepped into the kitchen to grab a Krispy Kreme before the wrestling matches continued on TV. My chance had come.
I raised the cup to my lips and took a deep, long draught.
The world turned. The coffee poured — no, danced — over my tongue, swam down my throat, hit the passing lane into my stomach, then took the off-ramp to my cerebral cortex. The jolt was like nothing I’d ever felt before.
After this, I was doomed. There was no going back.
Soon, like the other teenage addicts, I was stealing my parents’ coffee, slipping away behind the barn for a forbidden sip, meeting behind the gym at school with the other caffeine-sodden ne’er-do-wells who would bum mugs of java off each other while standing with twitching fingers in smoky clouds of coffee-steam, never getting enough, itching for the next cup.
High school ended, and college came and went, a four-year blur of coffee houses and mall bagel shops. By then, I’d done ’em all — Maxwell House, Folger’s, Millstone, Green Mountain, the specialty blends, the exotic, the domestic. Coffee was my albatross. I was a slave to the demon bean.
Today, I accept my addiction. Who am I kidding — I embrace it. I greet each mug of coffee with the enthusiasm of young love, and I protect each cup with the fierce devotion of the mother wolf.
Still, my message to the youth of today is a simple one: beware of coffee. She is a harsh mistress. Yes, she gives warmth, life, vigor, and purpose. But she demands her tribute, too. Your wallet will drain into the coffers of the Starbucks empire. As you drain each cup, you will pursue the next with the zeal of Galahad grasping for the grail.
Yes, the demon bean will claim your soul, as it claimed mine years ago.
But then, isn’t that a small price to pay for true love?