A Conversation about Coffee

The best part of waking up… is literally any kind of coffee directly streamlined into my veins. Folger’s, Maxwell House, McDonald’s, Bent Tree, some random dark-hued water that might be dirty rain water but there’s a chance it might be coffee so you go for it anyway because you need coffee… Yeah, get that to me stat.

When I was a kid, my grandparents made it into a joke about me not drinking coffee. Every time my grandma made coffee, she’d offer me some: “Would you like some coffee?” It was never a serious offer, and I consistently dramatically replied no (“Uggggck, never!”) even though I had never really tasted coffee; I just knew it was something old people drank and my parents didn’t like it so it was probably some weird deal with the devil that if the elderly continued to drink this weird, pleasant-smelling but incredibly bitter beverage, they’d stall off death for a few more hours and that’s the only explanation I had for coffee.

And it turns out, I was right!

Except it’s not just for the elderly, because basically college turns almost every student into a coffee drinker.

Once when I was a teenager, I tried some coffee at a Christmas party. It was horrifically bitter, so I added seventeen sugar packets and a half a cup of creamer to it–so that the natural rich, dark color was diluted into an eggshell hue–and it was still too strong for me. I didn’t foray with coffee again for a while after that, since I knew now it was horrible.

Then I started working at a breakfast-diner.

That wasn’t the end-all/be-all of that matter, though. I went into working there as a total novice to coffee. In fact, on my first day there, I asked someone what they wanted to drink, and they replied, “Black coffee,” and I asked, “Do you want cream with that?” to which they responded, eyeing me funnily, “No…” and I ignorantly replied, “Okay!” and bounded off.

I worked there for about a year, not drinking coffee. People asked me what certain coffees tasted like, and I’d say, “I’m told it’s really good, but I actually don’t drink coffee!” and we’d all share a laugh or something, and people would think I was charming (which I am; modest, too). I got to learn people’s different habits with coffee (some people drink it super fast, other people like a single cup, other people pour so much cream and sugar in it that they really aren’t even drinking coffee anymore, other people drink it super black) and noted the options.

It was last summer that I started drinking coffee. I don’t remember why I started–maybe a late night with friends and an early morning shift, but I recall turning to The Great Caffeine Lord for some sort of energy. I drank the flavored coffee we have at work, so I was able to endure it without any sweeteners, but boy did it give me energy.

And it was kind of a slippery slope from there. “The first one’s free.” Well, actually they’re all free, if I’m at work, because employees aren’t charged for coffee, so really it’s all free. Maybe that was the slippery slope. But I liked what the caffeine did to me. My boyfriend tried to warn me (“Don’t get hooked on it”) but I didn’t really listen. I was off on the sweet caffeine train of forced energy.

Anyway, I started with just about one cup a week, but then I’d find myself sort of lethargic, sort of crabby, so I’d have a cup to pep myself up. I’d be flying through the restaurant like one of those typical hyper cartoon characters, or like that chipmunk from Hoodwinked, which is a really old cartoon movie that retrospectively has horrible animation but I loved it as a kid.

I also started to get inventive with my coffee, like making mochas or putting ice cream in it or making it taste like a cappuccino. Whenever I kept yawning and I wasn’t feeling like being at work, I’d drink some of it and it’d propel me into a better place. (Which doesn’t make it sound like a drug or like I’m addicted at all.) One of my coworkers also pointed out that I could never just drink coffee, but I had to talk about how I was drinking coffee, for example, “I need more coffee,” or “This coffee is really doing it for me.” (That really didn’t make me sound obsessed at all, either.)

It was over Thanksgiving break that I realized exactly how much I was somewhat dependent on it. When my aunt brewed some, I had to have a cup because I was sleepy (damn tryptophan) and sort of had a headache (damn family). With only a little sugar and creamer, I reveled in the warm, glorified bean water and found solace in its effects. Really, I needed another cup, but I left it at the one so I wouldn’t seem like a coffee-holic. (I was less reserved with my wine consumption, though; a greedy three glasses I think I had of that.)

Anyway, I guess I’ve come to terms with the fact that I kind of need coffee to be a pleasant person. I mean, even then, I’m not pleasant, just hyper– hyper-grumpy. (I kid.) It does get me through my Tuesday evening, class though. It’s a two-and-a-half hour class from 4:30 to 7:00 in the evening; one week, I challenged myself to get through the class without any coffee, and I effectively drifted off for almost the whole class, and I sit in the front row! I can’t help it when I fall asleep in class, though; I get pulled into sleep and I nod off and my eyelids are way too heavy. So basically I realized I would never do that again, and a nice 12-ouncer can keep me awake enough to fake my way through the class.

I really do sort of try not to drink too much of it. I don’t want yellower teeth or to have coffee breath, but sometimes it’s easier than doing cocaine so coffee works (kidding, again, but thanks for having so little faith in me that you legitimately wonder if I do cocaine or have ever done cocaine). Ultimately, it keeps me regular and it keeps me awake, so it’ll have to stay for now, especially these next two weeks. And maybe I’ll be one of those old people who have sold their soul to the devil in order to stay alive, but hey–ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Stay thirsty, my friends.

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